Self-paced vs trainer-led: which way of learning is more effective?

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Self-paced vs trainer-led courses are two different ways to learn the new skills professionals need to move up the ladder into more challenging roles. Where self-paced courses give you a general gist of the skills you need to gain without needing the guidance of a trainer, trainer-led courses can help offset many of the problems students face since they are more hands-on with tailored syllabuses and a personal trainer.

There are more and more remote learning options available to users, meaning that the student can work where they want to and access the live lectures and course material from anywhere in the world. In the next sections, we will dive deeper into the topic by discussing the pros and cons of each scenario and why trainer-led courses are the best way of learning in this age!

Self-paced courses

Self-paced courses are excellent options for students who are more comfortable learning alone and do not agree with settling into a general classroom. As a learning method, it is a lot less structured. As participants work alone, students who are not comfortable managing their deadlines and syllabuses could miss out on important material.

Owing to its independent nature and no dependency on operational guidance, this system is more popular with autodidacts and experienced students. However, not all self-paced courses are like this, as a few still require some level of interaction between the instructor and students. This is especially true if there are several interactive assignments in your course.

If you want to upskill and learn complex topics that have to be readily applied in a professional environment, self-paced courses might not be the best option for you. In the next sections, we will look at this approach’s plus and negative points.

Benefits of self-paced courses

While it is difficult to beat the presence of an active instructor during classes to help with any learning difficulty, self-paced courses do offer some benefits. Some of these benefits are:

  1. Remote Accessibility: The most common selling point of self-paced courses is that since they are not dependent on physical classrooms, students can access them remotely. This enables the student to study the material at the time and place most suited to their personal needs and schedule. Most self-paced online courses are split into small video lessons that focus on targeted topics.

Some course creators also use visual aid and illustrations to make the learning process easier for remote students.

  1. Reasonable Pricing: The overhead costs of teaching a self-paced course are very low for the instructors who create them. This is because there are no repeated costs of acquiring a physical classroom or an active instructor. The only important thing for the course creators is to update the syllabus and course from time to time.

This makes it possible for self-paced courses to be priced at significantly lower rates than their counterparts. Some companies utilise the lower cost for added benefit by purchasing courses in bulk and reusing them for different groups of employees.

  1. Flexible Learning Speed: The ability to learn at adjustable speeds tailored to personal needs is another excellent perk of self-paced courses. This is ideal for professionals who are often short on free time with urgent tasks disturbing their schedule.

Professionals and students in the tech and general IT industry can use this perk to upskill at their own pace. It also helps that students can revisit the training material of the course at any time for extra revisions.

Cons of self-paced courses

Most new courses designed to help professionals are filled with data that needs to be studied in an applicable method so that students can use the information to solve real-world problems immediately after learning. Trainer-led courses can do this much better than self-paced courses, making them redundant when it comes to learning critical skills. Some other cons include:

  1. No Fixed Time Frame for Completion: This training style can easily demotivate students as there is a lack of scheduling for certain targets and no fixed time frames to complete the course. Other than that, the lack of active interaction with a trainer can make it difficult to overcome any hurdles in the learning process. This can also increase doubts in the student’s mind, and they might give up after a few unsuccessful tries.
  2. Technical Access Issues: Almost all modern self-paced courses need to be accessed through online modes, which opens the student to various problems, mainly related to access issues. You will need to keep a smart device like a phone, computer or tablet nearby whenever you study, and in most cases, you might also need a strong internet connection.

If your device and your connection are incompatible with the platform where your course is hosted, you will not be able to access the course material easily.

  1. No Interaction With Trainers: Most self-paced courses contain short videos and presentations targeted at different lessons and syllabus areas. While a good course planner will try to ensure that students from different backgrounds can easily absorb the material, it isn’t easy to replace the presence of a personal trainer.

This can demotivate students, and students who excel in learning through argumentative discussions might also feel the lack of competitive co-trainees.

Trainer-led courses

Trainer-led courses are based around one person acting as the classroom instructor. In most cases, this is a professional expert in the field and an experienced teacher who can help new students and other professionals absorb their course material easily. While most of these sessions usually happen in physical classrooms, new instructors are also adopting the remote approach. This results in ease for students who are travelling or based elsewhere, allowing them to access the classroom with virtual setups.

Most adult students can sync with this process more easily than self-paced courses since it follows a learning pattern similar to the traditional teacher-student equation. The classes are based on different applied exercises and lectures, allowing for a more robust and engaging learning experience. It is important to note that practical skills can only be taught using this technique since live interactions with a trainer are a must to excel in them.

Benefits of trainer-led courses

Ever since trainer-led courses have adopted the option of remote classes, they have managed to outdo the most appealing benefit of self-paced courses. Now, it is possible to video call your instructor, share your computer screen with them, and learn and collaborate on every exercise without needing to share a physical space. Other than this improvement, trainer-led courses also offer some other excellent perks, such as:

  1. Extensive Support Material: Trainer-led courses generally come with extensive course material. Besides the main course syllabus, you can usually expect a reference guide to help you find specific points. If you need extra support material, you can always ask your trainer to guide you to specific resources, saving you the time that would be spent on unaided online research.
  2. Guided Group Discussions: The human element and the possibility to discuss ideas within learning groups and with an experienced senior give this learning style a strong edge over the self-paced options. The competition helps to motivate students to learn and perform better, as students can ask questions with no hesitation, and they can get answers immediately.
  3. Ideal For Subjective Topics: If you are learning a subjective skill or topic that requires much evaluation and discussion about its open-ended concepts, an instructor-led session is your best choice. When you bring a subjective topic to the discussion in this learning process, the trainer performs the role of a facilitator, steering the ship of students through different ideas they have to assess, review, plan, guide and execute.
  4. Practical Application: Most instructor-led training sessions put students in a virtual environment that allows them to see the real-time application of their skills. They can try and solve different problems using the solutions they study. This makes it easier to come back better trained after training sessions to use the skill set in some professional capacity during real-life scenarios.

Cons of trainer-led courses

Despite having several ideal qualities, trainer-led courses suffer from the occasional cons like any other process. Some of these are:

  1. Fixed Time Management: This con is especially applicable in remote learning situations where different people in the class, including the trainer and the students, are based in different locations. In most cases where there are issues with time zones, it is crucial to work out the logistics.

If there are situations where work hours and class hours overlap, you might need to opt for additional classes to cover the complete syllabus.

  1. Cost: Trainer-led courses always cost more than self-paced courses since physical classroom costs and the compensation of the experienced instructor need to be accounted for. It is also important to incur these costs for each company batch, as the courses cannot be retaught after a one-time purchase.

How to pick the right course style for you?

Before you pick the right method to learn a new skill, it is important to be clear on your end goal. If you are looking for a serious certification and planning to excel in practical skills, trainer-led courses are hard to beat. The presence and guidance of a live trainer can help you to trudge through demotivating topics, and it also allows you to work through any hurdles immediately without needing to research solutions online.

On the other hand, if you are more interested in learning specific topics, you should go with self-paced courses. Some skills require both face-to-face discussions and straightforward lessons. In this case, users could opt for a trainer-led or blended learning method. The blended learning method allows students to experience the best of both worlds.

Whether you opt for a self-paced course or a trainer-led learning system, it is clear that training to upskill in your current career or while switching jobs is crucial. Regardless of your final choice, it is hard to beat the benefits of trainer-led courses and direct contact with an expert.

If you’re interested in finding the right trainer-led course so you can advance further in your profession, schedule a career consult today!

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