Environmental compliance and regulatory training is most commonly offered in three formats: live and in-person (in a classroom or on-site at a company’s location), live online, and self-paced online. We surveyed environmental professionals to learn whether self-guided training or the “live” (instructor-led) training is preferred.

Our survey results reveal that most environmental professionals who have participated in classroom instruction in the past believe that they get more value from classroom instruction than either form of digital learning. None, in fact, indicated that they prefer online training above the other options. Results were similar among those who have not attended training in the past; 40% indicated that they “prefer classroom training and will travel for it.”  Despite this preference for classroom instruction, however, respondents indicated that there are several impediments to attending such training, chief among them being cost and the inability to travel. As a result, while most training is still completed in person, an incongruous amount of online sessions are attended.

What are benefits of self-paced learning?

  • Learners are able to study at their own pace and even participate in courses when they are on-the-go (thanks to mobile phones and tablets). For example, if a student would like to review a core piece of content within the lesson for a longer period of time, in order to boost their retention of the information, then they are able to do so.
  • There is no scheduling involved. Therefore, if you are trying to train a large number of employees or provide coursework for eLearning students, you won’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts or venue capacity. You only need to give the learners a deadline for completion and then let them go at their own pace.
  • Ideal for permanent content. Organizations with internal content or information that isn’t going to change in the near future, such as company policies, that new employees must memorize, then self-paced learning is a great option.
  • Testing and learning confirmation can be more straightforward.
  • No travel and low course registration costs.

Does online, instructor-led training work?

Of course it does, and there are some advantages and disadvantages.

  • Real-time training presented by experienced instructors in an interactive, virtual environment can offer nearly the same experience as classroom training, without the need for travel.
  • Multiple colleagues can attend the same training, at the same time.

So why do environmental professionals say they prefer instructor-led training?

  • Many find that maintaining focus and interest is easier when information is presented by an experienced professional/instructor in person.
  • Classroom settings help minimize interruptions, and the live nature limits one’s ability to be pulled away.
  • Training is completed in a timely manner.
  • Opportunities to meet professional colleagues and learn from their questions and challenges.
  • More assurance that content is current.
Of course, you could always read a book. Seriously. For detailed study or for the diligent learner, there may be nothing better than some good old fashioned reading.

Craig Schwartz is an environmental management consultant with more than 20 years experience helping clients work toward their environmental compliance, performance, and risk management objectives. He is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA), and Certified Environmental Trainer (CET) who serves as both an AARCHER consultant and instructor for the Aarcher Institute of Environmental Training. Craig can be reached at cschwartz@aarcherinc.com.