There was a time when training always meant live in-person group sessions. With employees more dispersed than ever, however, the in-person training model has become harder to pull off, and organizations are leaning on a number of remote learning formats. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a few remote learning models.

Remote Group Sessions

This format feels the most familiar, bringing the tried and true live session to a virtual meeting. Just like its in-person counterpart, remote group training benefits from giving learners direct access to an expert instructor for any questions they have. You can also be sure everyone in the session is receiving the same learning experience.

The main downside of group sessions is that the instructor has to choose a single starting point and set the pace for everyone participating in the session. Participants who already know the basics may be bored, and at the same time, the learners who are coming in cold can feel like things are moving too quickly. The cost of a live remote trainer can be high, too, but it becomes fairly reasonable when spread across large groups.

Group sessions are a good fit for organizations with an adequate training budget, that want direct access to an expert and whose participants are likely to be at similar starting levels.

Self-directed Learning

In this “DIY” format, learners consume content on their own, at their own pace. These providers make video-based content available for organizations to license at affordable costs. The first benefit of this model is the low cost, made possible by leveraging recorded lectures instead of live instructors. Another advantage is the ability for learners to make their own schedule and consume material at their own pace.

The downside here is the lack of guidance and support. When participants need help, this format does not offer much in the way of support. This limitation can make it easy for participants to miss critical concepts or to become lost and overwhelmed.

Self-directed learning may be the right option if you have a limited budget and want to give employees the option to learn on their own schedule. Be aware that you will likely need to dedicate some internal resources to your learning initiative and that support will be limited.

Self-paced Guided Learning

Like the self-directed format, the guided learning model leverages video lectures that participants can consume at their own pace. However, in this format, the service includes designing a custom curriculum for each participant, based on an understanding of his or her starting skills and the organization’s learning objectives. Instructor support is another differentiator here. When a learner needs assistance during his or her self-paced study, the learning vendor’s instructors provide one-on-one support.

The advantages of this model are the availability of guidance and coaching with a relatively low price tag and the ability for learners to set their own schedule and pace. The major limiting factor of this model is lack of availability, as it seems to be the least common remote learning model. You may or may not be able to find a guided learning provider, depending on the subject matter.

Guided learning can be a great fit for organizations that want participants to have some direct access to guidance and support from instructors, while keeping costs on the lower end.

Which Remote Learning Model Is the Best?

There is no one right way to approach remote learning for your organization. Each of these formats can be great under the right circumstances. Most importantly, don’t let the current environment impede your organization’s ability to access top notch training content. The training vehicle may have changed, but investing in people is more important now than ever.