When it comes to training, webinars and online courses have their advantages – as someone who completed her Master’s in Library and Information Science program as a distance student, you certainly aren’t going to hear me argue otherwise! For employers a chief advantage can be that webinars undoubtedly save you money. ALA 2016 is right around the corner and a quick glance at the price tag (and that’s not including travel, hotel, meals and anything else you may need to compensate) shows why you may want to abandon traditional face-to-face trainings for online-only education. Fewer people still may be familiar with all the costs of hosting your own staff training days, but shutting down libraries for a day, feeding everyone, finding money for honoraria…. these costs can add up quickly.
However, we also have good reason not to abandon the face-to-face model entirely – it is often more successful. In the community college world, online learning’s flexibility has led to a vast increase in the number of online offerings. However, studies at these institutions expose some of the deficiencies of this type of education. Online-only students are, for instance, more likely to fail or drop out than face-to-face students.
I recently came across an infographic that almost makes the webinar seem like a no-brainer. Basically, it attempts to display a visual interpretation of “seminar” (a bunch of people in a row looking toward presentation on a screen) versus a visual interpretation of “webinar” (one person alone looking at the same presentation on a screen).
The message is clear: Sure, you could pay to have everyone sit in the same room and watch a presentation or you can do the same thing more cheaply with a webinar!
But not every training is a lecture, and not all people learn the same way. Take some of SWON’s Level-Up lab topics, such as an upcoming lab for “Makerspace on a Budget.” Many of these ideas can be transmitted via print or in a slideshow, but when it comes to working with new tech and unique materials, the opportunity to put your hands on the items and learn how to work with them is invaluable. (And it is worth pointing out that our Level-Up Labs are FREE!)
We offer plenty of webinars here at SWON and we are proud of the variety of trainings this allows us to bring to you. We, too, appreciate the webinar’s ability to provide cost savings, convenience, and to bypass barriers of space and of time. But we also value our face-to-face training, as well! The chance to interact, have a real exchange of ideas, and to get in there and get our hands dirty provides us with the kind of learning a webinar can’t.
Fortunately, for our SWON member institutions, face-to-face learning is part of the package deal. We offer 4 free consulting hours per year to every member institution, which many take advantage of in the form of in-person trainings. Melanie can host excellent customer service trainings based on her expertise in personality theory or I can come out and show your staff the ins and outs of Office 365. Have other needs? We are always here to be your partner in crafting training programs tailored to your needs – something else you can’t accomplish in a generic webinar.
So while we are delighted to see your names in the enrollment logs for our Innovation Conversations, and we hope you take advantage of the many webinar opportunities we pass on to you, we also hope to see you faces at our Level-Up Labs, our Staff Training Symposiums, and our many of our other fun and educational events throughout the year. And don’t let those free consulting credits go to waste! We are happy to help you out on your Staff Day or any other day of the year – making us more personalized and just as affordable as that free webinar.