In-person learning makes a comeback
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, on-site in-person courses were common, and in many settings, they were the norm. I feel a sense of nostalgia for the moments before the class begins — people streaming in, one by one or in small groups, hot drinks in hand, setting up their spot at the table with their water bottle, laptop, special pen, jacket on the chair. Sometimes there were snacks and colorful training supplies. As a facilitator, I aspired to welcome each learner at the door, calmly and with a smile.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person classes became almost non-existent. Now, in-person classes are making a comeback as a learning option with unique delights and benefits.
In an in-person course, the learner can expect the following:
- Skilled facilitators: The presence of one or more facilitators skilled at building relationships with and amongst the learners.
- Dialogue and discussion: Opportunities to learn through interaction with others with different identities, styles, and perspectives.
- Customization: Facilitators can adapt to the needs of the moment, adjusting pacing and content in response to the group dynamic.
- Various learning methods: In-person classes can include visual, auditory, interpersonal, and kinesthetic learning experiences. These enhance motivation, engagement, and learning.
- Collaboration: Adult learning theory tells us that adults learn best with opportunities to learn collaboratively, sharing knowledge and experience with peers.
- Community: Ample opportunity to meet new people, network, and learn as a team.
- Practice and feedback: Practice new skills and receive immediate feedback from peers and/or instructors.
For many learners, the rich experience of being in a room with others — the body language, facial expressions, social cues, and “water cooler conversations” — increases the sense of connection and belonging. This may be in-person learning’s greatest gift of all.
Jodi Kline is a learning design and delivery professional with Workforce Learning and Performance at the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES). She is honored to facilitate leadership development trainings for supervisors and managers across the enterprise.