Training – Online or In Person? Making the Best of Both

I’ve been reflecting recently on the Remote Years, as I now think of those 2-3 years during the height of the Covid pandemic. I was pleasantly surprised how easily we were able to make the transition from doing most of my training events in person to suddenly having to do all of it online. I’m really enjoying the opportunities to meet in person again now, but I’m very grateful that we can also continue online meetings and trainings when that’s the best option. Much of my work is still done online, but many organisations are moving back to meeting in person too, so I get to make the best of both. I’m also getting more involved in developing stand alone e-learning modules which can be very effective as well.


Which brings me to the question, how do you make the best of training, whether it’s online or in person? So below are three really important basics that I think need to be in place to make training effective, regardless of the methodology.


1. Context

Training needs to be done at the right time and to be relevant to the day to day life of those completing the training. For example, GCP training should be proportionate to the person’s role. The Regulatory Affairs Executive does not need to know in detail how to conduct Source Data Verification, and the Clinical Trial Monitor does not need to know how to complete an application on the regulatory applications system. If they can’t see the relevance to their own role they won’t engage with the content. The training also needs to be done in an environment with minimum distraction, which can be very tricky when someone is participating from home or in a busy office. Time and space need to be set aside, and the training prioritised over meetings, e-mails, message notifications etc.


2. Content

The content should be clear, simple and engaging. The information should be presented in a way which captures attention and explains complex information in a way that aids understanding and helps with implementing the behaviours, processes or other changes needed. I still see slides and other materials with far too much information or very complex diagrams and they can be difficult to see clearly, let alone understand. In my view the old saying “less is more” is absolutely true in the training setting. A training event should not be used to explain every last detail, it should be a signpost for the topic, describing key concepts, requirements or principles which then need to be supplemented by on-the-job training, reading of relevant regulatory documents and applicable procedures. If you list every specific detail they will not remember it, you need to identify the main messages they do need to remember and focus on those, and follow up with further resources to supplement the training.


3. Interaction

When people are actively involved they pay more attention, they enjoy the session more and they also remember more. Whether you are presenting online or in person or you are designing an online learning module, there are ways to include interaction with, for example, quizzes, polls and case studies. If the session is live you can also use whiteboards and other idea generation tools, the technology for all of these is in the software we use every day. There is really no excuse today for death by PowerPoint. All it takes is a bit more work and a bit of creativity to make your content come alive and to drive home your key take-aways.


I hope these tips are helpful, they underpin everything I do when I’m designing and delivering training. And, of course, if you need someone to come and help you create or deliver content using these important principles, then please do get in touch to talk about how we can work together!

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