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The right training?

ComputerUser readers take the floor.

I read your article on IT training. Which studies are you referring when you state that “students who interact with their teachers and other students tend to retain more than those who don’t.”?

My experience and education have taught me that adults learn by doing. Whether they acquire knowledge alone or in an open forum means nothing unless it can be readily applied in a real-world situation.

I would agree that communicating face-to-face is the preferred method for many, but that can be attributed to habit. Online learning can transfer knowledge successfully if the student can apply the learning immediately. Not only is it cost-effective, but the student also can learn asynchronously due to scheduling issues and simple work-life complications.

Many companies today have extensive online learning repositories where workers can improve their skills whenever and wherever. My opinion and research lead me to believe that online learning will be a widely used tool in the future regardless of personal preference.

Thank for writing about such a thought-provoking issue.

Claire Beguin-Bennett, MA

BearingPoint Inc.

Atlanta

[email protected]

Get to Class

I just wanted to respond to your “Class Warfare” article and say how much I enjoyed it. As an educator myself who teaches in both of those formats, I am familiar with these pros and cons. And as a student who has taken classes in both of these formats, I have seen things from the perspective of both teacher and student.

However, there are some key points the article failed to mention that I feel potential students should definitely take into consideration.

# 1: If you are considering getting any sort of degree or certification, especially IT-related, you just can’t beat classroom-based learning! With it, there’s absolutely no doubt whatsoever that you were actually guided and instructed by a teacher, and have been evaluated on your performance along the way.

IT is one of those fields where hands-on experience tends to matter most, and with 100 percent online training, you just can’t get that. So classroom-based learning would without a doubt be the best way to go.

# 2: If you are looking for an introduction or overview of something, rather than a degree or certification, then online training might work equally as well as classroom-based. While classroom-based training still carries more clout and creditability, in this particular case, online training can give you a well-organized introduction into things like terminology and facts, history, job titles and responsibilities.

# 3: You can blend classroom-based and online learning by taking what’s blended or hybrid training. When it comes to IT, instruction is generally done online, while labs and possibly exams are done in a real classroom. This way, you can get the best of both worlds. As far as creditability goes, hybrid training ranks in between classroom-based and online.

# 4: Visual aides and handouts are more effectively used in classroom-based learning because we can control exactly when, how, and how often they are used.

Prof. Ron Auerbach. MBA

Kent, Wash.

[email protected]

On the Contrary

Roland van Liewcites research showing that both completion rates and retention of material in online classes pale in comparison with normal classes.

Research with quite different conclusions has been done in community colleges, showing completion rates and retention of material in online classes on a par with normal classes. Something’s not right here!

Yes, college students face a different situation from employees in a firm. IT trainees are studying as part of their job, whereas college students are generally studying in order to get a job later. Yes, IT trainees are studying technology subjects, whereas college students might be studying almost anything.

Nevertheless, such differences hardly seem adequate to explain such counterposed results. True, IT trainees do not have a teacher hovering over them threatening their chances of improving their GPA, but they do have a boss. Does the boss generally check if the employee has completed the training, and if so, are there any consequences for the employee? I think yes.

Does Mr. Van Liew have an explanation? I wish I did.

David Winet

University of California-Berkeley

[email protected]

to start a discussion or ask a question, e-mail [email protected] letters may be edited for style, length, or content. writers’ e-mail addresses will be published unless requested otherwise.

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