Online Education: Pros, cons

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Pros:
- Consistency of education. Course curricula are created according to job description, and content is delivered consistently across locations.
- Easy tracking of course completion and test performance. Such documentation is required for accredited
- Training occurs at the employee's pace, any time of day. "There are only a few hours a day we don't see people using our system, usually between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.," said Sara Bauer, VGM's director of education.
- No travel or time out of the office. Providers save money on related expenses and eliminate wasted travel time.
- Course content kept up to date. DMETrain's courses, for example, contain up-to-the minute regulation changes, saving the provider time in tracking
these updates.
The Cons:
- Auditory learners may have difficulty learning online. These employees take longer with the material and may require more tries to pass the test.
- May require technology upgrade. Rural companies with limited Internet access or small companies that share a computer may not be able to take full advantage of online education.
- Human oversight still needed at times. A supervisor must assist in training and testing during courses like equipment preventative maintenance.
- No peer-to-peer connections.
"Online education providers will need to incorporate a forum for informal conversation between peers," said Kim Brummett, a member of Medtrade's educational planning committee and a vice president at Advanced Homecare in Greenville, N.C. "I often learn more from mixing with my peers at a seminar than I do from the speaker."