As I have been thinking, reading and learning about e-learning, I had a chance to do some face-to-face training here at the Mission Vitality Center.
We had 12 people attend training on Saturday to get started with new church websites using Squarespace. The training was sponsored by the Hill Country District, but we had attendees from other districts as well.
I think the training went well, and I know that at least one church walked away with a nearly complete website. We are going to do it again shortly because we had a few more that wanted to come but couldn’t make it.
However, as a reflected on it, it occurred to me that this training might no only be feasible as an online course, it might work better. Here is why:
- People need to have a computer for this training.
One of the objections to online learning is the fact that not everyone has access to a computer and internet. If someone is going to be designing and maintaining a website for their church, they are going to need to have access to a computer and internet access. So, that is already a prerequisite for the course and it won’t be adding an additional obstacle.
- Better connectivity
Unless you have a computer training center with hardwired computers for all participants, offering training that requires live internet access (such as training on a cloud-based solution like Squarespace) is complex at best. Trying to get 12 people with varying degrees of computer experience and every possible configuration of hardware and operating systems connected to WiFi takes a little time. If people are taking the class from their home or office, this would be less of a barrier.
Teaching in a hands-on method is always tricky. If people are trying as they learn, there will always be people working at different paces. It is certainly no different in technical training. You will always have some who get it right away and have to wait until everyone catches up and people who just can’t possibly keep up. While there some excellent ways to deal with this during face-to-face, hands-on training, e-learning, properly formatted can avoid this problem altogether.
- More instructor attention
Unless you improve the instructor to student ratio (which we will do next time), it is hard to help everyone who needs it. If the e-learning course was developed properly, those who needed extra help would have plenty of time to get it.
Most of the participants in our Squarespace training here at the conference office came from within a 60 mile radius of the office. While some people might be willing to travel greater distances for training, it does become time and cost prohibitive. There is no need to travel for online training.
But what is missing? Of course, we know that people learn in different ways. Some might benefit from being in a room, face-to-face with the instructor and the other students. E-learning can do some things to simulate that, but it will never be the same. There is also something to be said for the power of learning together in groups. There is a social aspect that is critical to the learning process. As we work together as a church, there is also the added benefit of creating and sustaining relationships.
That being said, as I have stated before, there is no reason to do away with classroom learning. E-learning just gives us a different platform.
So stay tuned for the online version of Squarespace Training for Churches. Coming soon to a screen near you.