Among the many adjustments that all businesses have had to undertake during this ongoing pandemic, the shift to online learning has become inevitable and necessary. It is also near the top of all “to do” lists for companies that need to transform to survive in our new reality of working from home, and doing almost everything online.
Many have cited the need to upgrade the skills of employees to do tasks we previously thought could only be done face to face, such as client visits or introductory meetings, which have now migrated online.
But how to choose the best option? We tackle three aspects that you’d need to consider to make an optimal decision for you and your team.
Webinars vs. Workshops
Webinars are mostly an aggregation of anywhere from one to three to four speakers who discuss a specific topic. They normally speak, and follow a PPT (Power Point) outline. Interaction tends to be minimal — usually a moderator will field questions from the audience, but due to time limitations, not all questions are discussed. Most webinars are streamed live on Facebook, or on Zoom, or posted after-the-fact on Youtube.
Workshops, on the other hand, are “live” and more interactive: the facilitator asks questions, runs online polls or other structured learning games to ensure understanding of the topic at hand. Sometimes, there are even virtual breakout rooms for group work or group discussions. The likelihood of your particular concerns or questions being addressed are higher in this learning format.
Whatever you choose would depend on the learning outcome you would like for yourself or your team. Is it to familiarize yourself with a topic? Or you want to be inspired? Or maybe reassured? Then maybe a webinar would be more apt for you. Do you wish your team to upgrade their skills? Or to address a particular skills gap? Then perhaps an in-house workshop would be more suitable.
Asynchronous refers to a stored online webinar or tutorial. There are hundreds of thousands (even millions) of examples of asynchronous learning. Online tutorials, plus the MOOCs (massive open online courses), encourage unlimited participation and open access.
But you’d have to be very motivated to maximize learning this way. Sometimes, with all the choices, you wouldn’t know where to begin. It can all be very overwhelming. I would suggest reading reviews and selecting the topics you are most likely to continue pursuing, to take full advantage of this learning opportunity.
Synchronous means “live” and usually, moderated. There is an actual resource person (RP) or teacher doing a live presentation. This set-up is ideal for most first-time learners and for basic education. Why? Because the teacher or RP is right there to clarify and explain difficult parts, answer most questions and respond to your specific concerns. Studies suggest that moderated, synchronous learning leads to better learning outcomes, such as higher test scores.
Speaker choice: CEOs vs SMEs
Apart from those who are actual CEOs of their companies, we also refer to leaders of professional organizations, or government ministers and high-ranking officials. Speakers from such lofty ranks tend to talk about the “forest” or the big picture as it pertains to macro trends or forces which could affect the region, the country or an entire industry. For example, they could speak on how the 4th Industrial revolution (or the “internet of things”) could affect all businesses, and enumerate ways on how we could all prepare.
SMEs or subject matter experts would focus more on the “trees” and be more specific on how these forces could impact your company and your employees. They could then assist you on particular ways to upgrade your skills.