Online Learning can never replace Classroom Training

Is an internship or a learnership a better mechanism to fuel the growth of your business? 

Covid changed the world and the training landscape with it. Distance learnerships and online learning proliferated through necessity but now that life and learning are returning to some semblance of normality, does this form of training still have a place in skills development?

Sean Sharp, Executive Head of Sales EduPower Skills Academy, says that virtual learning served its purpose during the worst of the pandemic but in-person learnerships cannot be beaten, particularly with regard to fully hosted learnership programmes such as those offered by EduPower.

“Considering the alternative of no education, eLearning proved to be an important tool to sustain our learnerships during lockdown. But it is no substitute for face-to-face instruction, especially in the absence of universal access to infrastructure,” says Sean.

He explains why he believes classroom training and in-person work experience are critical to the delivery of learnerships:


Online learning requires a reliable electronic device, a stable internet connection and data along with a quiet learning environment. In South Africa, most of our youth on learnerships were previously unemployed and simply don’t have access to these tools, cannot afford the ongoing data costs and their living environments often do not support home-based study. We found that the shift to virtual education for many of our learners was, therefore, difficult and they have been more than happy to return to “work” at the Academy. 

Learner/Facilitator Interaction

Classroom training offers face-to-face interaction of a longer duration between learners and facilitators. It provides a dynamic experience as learners can actively participate by asking questions and getting their queries resolved. Our facilitators find that in a traditional classroom they are also able to cater to the strengths and weaknesses of each learner, especially those who may be struggling.

Development of Soft Skills

In-person training encourages discussion and critical thinking, not to mention the enhancement of social skills – all of which are essential for a learner’s future work readiness and employability. Our learnerships are run as regular jobs so our learners are expected to attend the Academy five days a week and work normal office hours. This teaches them responsibility as it takes discipline to arrive on time every day, properly dressed and with the right attitude. 

Peer to peer interaction

As our learners interact with their peers, we see so much personal and professional growth, and regular face-to-face conversations also allow them to further develop their social skills. It gives them the opportunity to learn to work collaboratively, where they build on each other’s ideas and produce better performance and results than they would achieve on their own. 

Practice while you learn

With a combination of theoretical learning and work experience, learnerships allow our candidates to immediately practice new concepts learnt in the classroom as they can apply this knowledge whilst they work. Our work experience is hosted in a contact centre where learners work on real campaigns and their development is encouraged and validated by direct interaction with a mentor or coach – an experience that simply cannot be duplicated in an online environment.

Sean says that though eLearning has many benefits, it’s not a replacement for the traditional classroom, especially in South Africa.

“While online and classroom training both have advantages and disadvantages, the convenience of virtual learning will never be able to replace the experiential learning of human values and the character development that is an essential part of the classroom setting,” he concludes.

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