Online training, is it a good way to learn?

By Judy | Personal Development

Dec 07
Employment Life Skills Training

Online training, is it a good way to learn?

I don’t think the question is right. Maybe the question is: How do we make online training a good way to learn for Indigenous youth and adults?

I want to take you back in time for a minute…..

Just a quick storey….it was eight years ago, I woke up very early one Sunday morning and began to write. It’s common for me to wake up early and start writing, but….that morning, was very different.

I did not just start to write, I began drawing pictures, diagrams, and charts as well as words that flowed out of my head faster than I could physically write.

It was like watering flowing from a tap.

After over 45 minutes of writing I realized what I had drawn out was courses online for Indigenous youth and adults.

Eight years ago I was pretty good on Microsoft office, using word, excel, and a few other smaller programs but I had no clue how to develop an online course or even begin to think about putting it online and my first immediate thought was, online courses will not work for Indigenous youth and adults.

Even though my first thoughts were forget that, I started down the journey to figure out how this might work.

Struggling, learning, testing, researching.

Does online training even work?  Do students even learn?  Will students learn this way?  Is this possible in the communities I work in? The questions for me went on and on…

At one point in my career I was part of a team of professionals’ who tested a pilot computer lab in a community.  It was a university project.  The life skills training program took place first, and then the lab opened and students  started learning online, it was mildly successful and at that point I thought, mildly successful, was not good enough.

At that time many people told the team training online was not a good idea.  Some were hopeful.  Others tried to help make it happen.  Over the years, with technology changing rapidly and our young people embracing new social medias (YouTube) signs kept pointing to online as a very practical solution, given the right circumstances and setup.

In late 2014, Oho Education launched their first online training program into communities and every student that enrolled, completed.  Yes, it was a hybrid online training program (more on that in my next post), but it worked.

Since then we have launched several online training programs, not all as successful as the first (for a number of reasons, all learning experiences), but all our online training programs can now leave a bigger, more positive footprint.  What I have realized is, I can only teach so many students in one year in a class room, now I can help far more.  If I can reach more students and help them, so could many other great programs, we just need to get this started.

Of course many questions kept creeping in…..

Will online training work for everyone?   When I teach, I want to do my best to make sure that what I am teaching is going to work for all….but that is not a reality, not even in a physical classroom.

Online training does not work for everyone either…

But it will work for many.

Let me tell you about a brief Ted Talk Video I watched recently.

What the speaker spoke about in the Ted Talk was:

  • education is expensive
  • costs are increasing
  • in the past, it has been difficult for many people to take training of any kind and this is not getting better
  • College and university classrooms have limited class seating
  • one teacher can only teach so many people physically at once, in a classroom
  • even when students do manage to get a higher education they often can’t find work in the field they trained in and find themselves in jobs they don’t like, even after years of training
  • thousands of people around the world that want education can’t access it because of limited seating for the amount of people who want to enroll
  • the program is not offered in their community
  • there is no funding for the community to put these program on and/or
  • students can’t afford to leave to take training outside of their community

All that being said top Universities from around the world have done some experimenting with some of their most popular programs.  These program seats in a class are normally full, with sometimes over 400 students at a time taking one program.

Some experiments showed that if they took one popular program and offered it for free online around the world, they could enrol thousands of students at a time, instead of hundreds.

One example was over 100,000 people enrolling in one online training program through a top University in the USA.

What they found was amazing.

Yes, not all students completed the training.  But….what might have taken them 45 years or more to teach to that number of students, took them one class online.  The overall results were staggering.

Thousands more students completed the program than could have completed in a physical classroom in the same time frame.

I’m not saying it’s okay for people not to complete successfully,  but what if we could offer more students in communities basic skills online, getting them used to the platforms and then they began to branch out to college and university courses?

Our footprint could be much larger, faster.  We could impact more people, faster, significantly impacting both rural and urban communities.  We could help more people faster, making a more significant shift in education than any other teaching platform.

Let’s explore this for another minute.

The beauty of online courses is the student has a lot of flexibility.  They can start when they want and stop when they need to.  They can mute the instructor so they can catch up and rewind when they don’t understand.  They can watch something over and over again until they get it.  That’s why our young people love YouTube Videos.  They are learning already online.

Often with online there are forums they can go into to get support as well or a course could be designed to give them more hands on support and still be less expensive than the traditional methods we are now using.

Yes, procrastination is still very much alive, where many students may not complete the training.  But, what if they did learn, maybe slower than the other people in a classroom setting, but learn on their own, when they need to, and they begin to embrace learning on their own terms.  Would this not be a significant break through?

What if we could offer more students training, more often for less cost?

Students could learn technology while they were also learning concepts that interest them.  Keeping them up with the world around them.

Getting them exciting about learning one small course at a time.  One concept at a time. At their own pace.

Instead of training 10-16 students in a class in a community at one time we open it up to more.  Give them the opportunity to take it when they want and how they want.   They can design their own training and take what they need, not all the fluff they already know.

What often happens in many Indigenous communities today is the community decides they need to do training in a certain area, an example might be Life Skills Training.  The solution: offer Life Skills Training in community.  See the problems below:

Solution Problem Student Problem
Offer a Life Skills Program Program takes place at a particular time They are not able to take it at that time
Program only offered at a particular place Student cannot attend at that place, at that time
# of Student limited seats They miss out because not enough seats
Costs are high Students don’t realize the costs of the programs, therefore may not value the training


I have seen the model above used for years.

If you are an Educator, Education Coordinator, Education Director or Teacher in an Indigenous community:  Is the above class room model helping enough people annually in each community?


Should we try something else?

Is, how we are training now, going to work into the future?

I am aware that there are Indigenous communities who are embracing technology and training online and it is working for them, but there are many that are still not.

What about a flipped classroom model or a form of this model?

Online training lends itself perfectly to this model. (more on that in next post)

I have more ideas on how to help make this work but I would love to hear from you as an educator or even as a student who is or wants to take courses.  What do you think?

How do we embrace technology in a big way to help more students get the training they want and deserve?  What is working for some communities with regards to online training?

Please share in comments below.

If you are a student would you take online training in your community or better yet in your home if you could?


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About the Author

"Judy Michaud is the author of Planning To Get Anything You Want, a FREE eBook you can download instantly to learn how to achieve amazing results both in your work and your personal life. Not only will you get more of what you want in your life you will have more time enjoy it. Check out our home page for access to this great resource.