Remote v Classroom teaching: some musings on training in Canada

I’ve been doing a fair amount of training with Canadian companies this last year, which sounds great, but mostly that has involved talking to delegates over Skype. It’s not a terrible way to deliver training and it obviously has the benefit of being cheaper for the client. It is also very cost-effective for me, only having to ‘travel’ up the stairs of my home to my office.

This week I had the opportunity to travel to Ottowa to deliver a course in person. The client had tried other courses remotely and didn’t feel it was as good. I had a good time and the delegates did seem to get a lot out of the two days. There was far more interaction than the remote courses, as you might expect, and I got to do a little sightseeing while I was there, so that’s a bonus.

I am musing though, in this day of advanced communication tools, whether the traditional classroom delivery is destined to become obsolete. I see the benefits, but I wonder whether sometimes we (the clients and myself) hold on to the classroom delivery because it’s simply what we’re used to.

I’m writing this post on the 8hr flight to the UK from Ottowa. 3,400 miles and over 2 days travelling to deliver a 2 day course is quite an overhead, albeit not one I’m complaining about.

Could the delegates have got as much out of a remote course? Not as much, I don’t believe, but possibly enough to make it a sensible option. I’ve had folks in the UK ask for remote courses to save the expense of me travelling the relatively short journey to London and I expect it will be a growing option for many.

A year ago I had some discussions with some folks in Nairobi about delivering training there. We are still working on it, but it has stalled due to the cost of flying me over there. That seems a shame, because Nairobi is going through a tremendous tech boom at the moment and there is a big market for good quality training. We may explore the remote option, but I have to be honest and say that part of my aim in developing training in Kenya is to give me the excuse to visit that country more often.

It does depend on the course type to a certain extent too. It seems slightly incongruous to teach about Agile development, which asserts that face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication, and then choose another medium. It is also more challenging to run exercises remotely and I’m not a big fan of lecture-only training courses.

I’m investing in better collaboration tools that will facilitate online training, which provides more choice for delegates. However, for the timebeing at least, classroom-based courses are still the predominant delivery approach and I hope to get plenty more opportunities to travel across the world for a good few years yet.