Online Training vs. Classroom Training: Three Things to Consider

Posted on Posted in Driver Training

As a time-crunched manager, you are flooded with decisions that must be made. Between scheduling, maintenance, new products, new routes, and new people, ongoing training can fall between the cracks in your list of priorities. But it has to be done, especially if you’re adding new drivers and employees on a regular basis.

Assuming you’ve made the commitment to train, you’re faced with options: Should you use remote, online training? Should you bring everyone in for group, classroom training? Here are some considerations to help you decide the best approach to delivering training.

1: Scheduling Time for Training

With online training, scheduling is the most flexible. You can often assign topics to everyone, to small groups, and/or to individuals based on their needs. Typically this is done through an admin site — an LMS or “Learning Management System” is the term you see most often. Scheduling is up to the individual. You let them know that they have training assigned and tell them it needs to be done by a certain date. The LMS tells you if they’ve completed the training, and if they answered questions correctly.

With classroom training, scheduling is more rigid. Once you arrange an instructor, a classroom, a yard, and the equipment or vehicles, you will have to block out time for each employee. That means time away from productivity. And that’s assuming that you have all your people in the same geographic area, otherwise it means routing drivers back through some central hub, pulling managers away from their people, and paying for hotels and per diems.  Beyond that, there are the variables — employees and kids get sick, there’s a snow day, or some other issue prevents attendance. What then?

2: Understanding is the Goal

With online training, the software and media do the training for you. Interactive exercises, multiple choice and true-false questions throughout the lesson help the student understand and retain the main teaching points in the lesson. Mastery-based training, such as that with PRO-TREAD, ensures that each topic is built on understanding of the last point. If they don’t understand the basics, they can’t move on to the more advanced topics.

With classroom training, you will need to either prepare a lesson plan yourself, or buy an off-the-shelf program. You’ll also need to print support materials and quizzes, and make sure you have the time to grade them afterwards. You’ll also need a follow-up plan for failing grades. You can also hire outside trainers for general topics — adding to the scheduling logistics — and add “color commentary” for the specifics of your company and workplace.

3: Tracking Their Progress

With online training, the LMS will track each individual student’s progress. It will also record a time and date that the student completes the lesson. The LMS provider should, like PRO-TREAD, provide hosting of all records. In the event of an incident where attorneys subpoena training records, this prevents either party from suggesting the training records were doctored.

With classroom training, the instructor will need to have a sign-in sheet, which each student must sign to record that they attended the session. You should also provide and grade quizzes, and maintain scanned evidence. If you’re only concerned about checking the box, these techniques can work.

However, if you’re concerned about mitigating risk, many lawsuits have a very easy time poking holes in those records. How do you know a person didn’t cheat on the quiz? How do you know an employee’s buddy didn’t put their name on the sign-in sheet? While these may seem like unlikely situations, you’d be amazed what attorneys will do when hundreds of thousands of dollars of lawsuit settlement is on the line.