Technology may be instant, but learning is not. Knowing something in the moment is not the same as absorbing its full connotations and digesting its impact on other areas of your understanding. However, just as speed and accessibility of information do not guarantee learning neither are they mutually exclusive. When judging technological learning resources, we have to assess quality as well as what we mean by “just in time”.
All online learning is not created equal – ease of accessibility doesn’t necessarily make it good. Certainly, the convenience of online courses is not to be underestimated – accessed from your location – removing unnecessary travel time and expense which can often be a blocker to learning. Online courses, once attended, can be replayed, such as Kaplan Altior’s Live Online. Certainly the “just in time” nature of re-watching training has proved successful with our Live Online PSC candidates, who have a 96% pass rate on the Financial and Business Skills exam, typically achieving a higher pass mark than those who opt for classroom learning.
Yes, convenience is important, but not at the expense of true learning- the bluff of relying on a quick answer is no substitute for real understanding. Online learning should be engaging, interactive, contain quality research and information and be delivered by industry experts who can take questions and provide real time answers. As solicitors, we have a duty to remain compliant and continuously serve our clients in the best way possible, being equipped to deliver the service that we claim we’re able to. This is why the SRA tried to discourage the last-minute approach to CPD, scrapping the old model of 16 annual CPD hours and replacing it with one that placed greater emphasis on personal responsibility for ongoing learning needs.
What’s important is that the delivery method fits both the content and learning need and this should be constantly revisited. For example, we wouldn’t suggest that advocacy skills were best learnt and practiced via a computer screen. At least not yet. Even our approach to advocacy skills will in future have to change to accommodate the growing trend for online and telephone court work.
Personally, I prefer face-to-face training, but good online learning products provide a convenient and engaging alternative. Others may see it the other way round. Rather than obsessing over which is better, it makes more sense to use both and instead focus on training that is planned and of the best quality as only that can be “just in time”.