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Alternate Routes

If the classroom is not for you, here are some home training options.

What’s new in IT training? Certainly not budget increases. Since the tech bubble burst, companies have tightened their belts when it comes to allocating resources for IT training and professional development. IT departments have been forced to use creative strategies and identify practical, cost-effective solutions to strengthen their workforces.

As popular as instructor-led classes are, they are expensive and not overly convenient to companies and the individuals who take the classes. The investment in classroom instruction may include the cost of enrollment, course materials, or instructor fees. Travel, lodging, and meals can add significantly to the total cost if the class isn’t offered locally. And this doesn’t even include the cost of lost time on the job. While on-site classes reduce travel and travel-related expenses, the cost of time away from the job and for the instructor can still be high.

Video training programs have become a viable option to instructor-led classes. They are high-quality, flexible and cost-effective.

Whether or not budget is an issue, IT training videos provide quality tutoring at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional instructor-led classes. They also enable IT professionals to reinforce learning by having access to information on an as-needed basis. Companies and individuals can take advantage of studying several subjects at any given time. Over time, this brings the cost of training down even further without negatively impacting quality.

In addition to cost savings, video training offers flexibility and efficiency that aren’t available through instructor-led classes. By using training videos, IT departments can schedule training when it is best for them and not only when a class is being offered somewhere. In this way, companies can spread out training, do it on their own schedule and minimize interference with work.

Further, video courses allow companies to be in control of their training. Not only are they a solid reference tool, they allow individuals to learn on the job. IT professionals can access high caliber training whenever they need it.

Until a few years ago, IT departments were growing by leaps and bounds, but today they are affected by budget cuts and shortfalls just like other business units. However, there’s a catch, to remain competitive, they still need to provide new and continuous instruction for their employees. Now they can without breaking the bank.

Traditionally instructor-led classes have been the standard in IT training because it’s what businesses knew and how they’ve always done training for nearly every department. Other training options were not up to speed and were only used as supplements to the content learned in these courses. But with the advancements in video training technology, there is less of a need to incur the costs to travel to attend instructor-led classes.

Videos can also provide high-caliber instruction from top industry experts, recognized leaders in a technology and published technical authors that you won’t find teaching at a local training center. Some of the training videos available in today’s market are incorporating personalities and professional, real-world insight into the instruction. These productions are capturing the attention of the audience and making viewing a pleasure while teaching at the same time.

Video training can also enable participants remote access to training, virtually any time, any place. It is an on-demand format in an on-demand world.

Jeff Short is the director of marketing for CBT Nuggets Inc. based in Eugene, Ore.

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Online training (also known as online learning or e-learning can be defined different ways depending on who you ask.

The reason for the variations in definitions is the media and delivery method used in each situation. In contrast to the traditional classroom training, online training is delivered through an electronic medium and can be a passive or interactive. Some online training programs are delivered as a series of Web Pages or documents that the student studies and is tested at the end on the material.

In other online training, students are presented a series of questions and tasks so that they can interact with the system as the training is delivered. Some programs may also contain graphics, a streaming-video lecture, or various other multimedia presentations. Another type of online courses are CD-based or downloaded with limited connection time, often referred to as computer-based training (CBTs).

Most online training programs are self-paced, meaning that students work on the course when it best suits the their schedule. The main advantage of this is that students can work on the course at any time convenient for the student. The only problem is that the student must be motivated and structured in order to successfully complete and benefit from the training.

Online training has been popular over the years and continues to see growth. Yet the lack of interaction with an instructor and the inability to ask questions in real time has many people skeptical about attending online training classes.

Recently a new type of online training has gained popularity: live online training, sometimes referred to as instructor-led online training. This method of training is conducted live with a trainer delivering the training via the Internet. The instructor is able to send voice, video, whiteboard, and other training media through (ideally) a broadband connection in real time for the student to hear and see. All the student needs is a connection to the Internet. In addition, the student is able to participate and has immediate access to someone who can clarify concepts that might not be clear in the course’s other materials.

Instructor-led training provides a pre-set schedule and access to equipment for direct hands-on experience. This type of training is gaining popularity thanks to the flexibility it offers in scheduling. Also, it requires no travel to the training site and all the benefits of a classroom training environment.

Alex El-Jack is an IT Consultant and Technical Trainer in Southern California.

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