Self-Paced Online Courses VS Virtual Instructor-Led Courses – Is There a Clear Winner?




With the advent of advanced communicational technology and more diverse content consumption media, training and learning has become easier than ever. Practical training has experienced perhaps the greatest leap forward, first with VR, and then with Augmented Reality. The one area that has remained somewhat stable in terms of training medium change is IT training.

Major IT Training Mediums: Self-Paced Courses VS Virtual Instructor-Led Training

The time of an instructor demonstrating IT concepts and operations on a screen to a group of learners, is long gone, in favor of virtual instructors conducting training classes and training courses consisting or pre-recorded videos.

Self-paced courses and virtual instructor-led courses are by far the two most popular IT training methods today; however, to a new learner, the mediums and their potential advantages over each other, can lead to some confusion regarding which method to choose. Additionally, it can lead to internal debates within organizations regarding which method is best for employee training.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the salient features, as well as the pros and cons of each method, to finally decide which method is the best

Self-Paced Courses

Following are the primary features and advantages of a self-paced course.

    • Detailed, Pre-Recorded Tutorials: Perhaps the most flexible training method, self-paced training puts into effect the ‘self-paced’ concept through pre-recorded tutorials which contain all the relevant information pertaining to the course, in a series of videos. Said videos can be watched whenever a learner chooses, thereby extending the training as much as one wants.
    • Immediate Availability of Course Materials: The self-paced course presents all the information and course materials pertaining to it immediately to the learner, instead of over a set schedule. This has an advantage for the individual learner. Firstly, if they already know part of the course due to prior training, they can start the training directly from the relevant point.
    • Exams and Assignments Scheduled Only at Course-Conclusion: With a self-paced course, the learner does not have to commence assignments or take an exam until the conclusion of the course.
    • Quicker Certification: This relates to the second point, in the way that a learner can acquire only the required learning and immediately get certified as soon as they have a passing grade in the subsequent assessment.

Advantages of Self-Paced Courses

Flexible Course Timing, Location and Pace: This form of training presents a massive advantage for individuals looking to break into the IT industry and/or organizations looking to train their employees with no timing restraints or deadlines.

Complete, All-Inclusive Courses: Self-paced courses are usually constructed to address all questions and queries that learners may have during the course. One can always go back and over the relevant part of the course.

Cheaper than Virtual Instructor-led Training: Most self-paced courses are more affordable than their instructor-led counterparts.

More Common and Accessible: Coming under the umbrella of e-learning, self-paced courses are generally more common, and accessible to the average learner. It is also the most common method of information consumption, currently.

Disadvantages of Self-Paced Courses

No Interaction between Instructors and Learners: This can be a hiccup in the way of understanding certain aspects of the course, especially if the training approach is not compatible with the learning approach.

Technological Hindrances: Since self-paced courses are pre-recorded on certain media, there might be compatibility issues in between said media and the learner’s software.

Longer Completion Times due to Zero Interaction: As there is no interaction present in this method, it usually takes longer to complete, as compared to courses where learners can ask questions to better understand learning points.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Following are the primary features and advantages of a self-paced course:

          • Conducted by a Live Instructor: As the name suggests, this type of training features a live instructor delivering the information remotely, in real time. It brings the natural human element into the course, making it more natural to the typical human way of learning, as in a classroom.
          • Interactive Learning Sessions: The inherent human element in the virtual instructor-led classroom leads to greater interaction between the instructors and learners, as well as among the learners. The former proves beneficial due to learners being able to ask questions and raise queries during the lessons.
          • More Intricate Training Sessions: Virtual instructor-led training is usually more intricate, with more close details than their self-paced counterparts. This leads to them being on a higher level, in terms of advanced subjects and terminologies.
          • High-Level Training: Virtual classrooms are usually reserved for the higher-level subjects. This is especially true in the IT industry, where each subject and learning point has various levels of complication and intricacy. Subjects that are more advanced require more in-depth training, which is why instructor-led training is perfectly suited to it.  

Advantages of Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Highly Detailed Courses: This course method is always more detailed and singular, which is good for a single subject that requires very in-depth training.

Some Courses Don’t Require Exams upon Completion: The in-depth nature of this training method negates the need for exams upon completion of the course.

Industry-specific Concepts with Regular Updates: The learning points featured in such a course are usually updated alongside emerging technology and concepts.

Disadvantages of Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Consistent Presence is Mandatory: The learner cannot afford to leave the training session for whatever reason, since the training continues without stoppage. This is not always convenient for all learners.

More Expensive Training Method: IT Instructors are well-versed in the field, which leads to them commanding greater compensation, which ultimately makes the course more expensive.

Lack of Course Diversity: Instructor-led courses are not as diverse in terms of the information they deliver in a single course.

Is There a Clear Winner?

Both methods have distinct pros and cons, as well as purposes.

In our experience, people prefer self-paced training for basic conceptual learning, and virtual instructor-led training for more advanced training.

Since both serve somewhat different purposes, there is no clear winner between the methods.

QuickStart features both training methods, in our annual course subscriptions, allowing learners the best of both worlds in terms of convenience, subject diversity and learning efficiency.

About The Author
Asad
Content Marketer at QuickStart

Asad Raza

An experienced content development specialist, Asad is proficient at crafting engaging and interesting content, with a distinct penchant for linguistic excellence. Being interested in technology and globally-significant events and news, he particularly enjoys writing on real world-relevant topics. A bibliophile at heart, he loves to read and immerse in fiction across genres.