is virtual learning cheaper

Is virtual learning cheaper than face-to-face training?

Face-to-face training has been the standard in training delivery for a long time, but with the sudden shift to remote work in 2020, most organisations moved to offering virtual learning as an alternative. While many L&D professionals and organisational leaders were skeptical of virtual training delivery and its effectiveness, over the last few months opinions have been challenged as the benefits of virtual learning have come to light.

Today we’re going to dig into one of the common beliefs around virtual learning, and uncover whether or not this widely held assumption is actually true.

Keep on reading to find out whether virtual learning is cheaper to deliver than face-to-face training.


What are the costs of face-to-face training?

If you think back to a time where you were coordinating the delivery of face-to-face training within your organisation, you may remember the many decisions that had to be made before training could commence.

For example, depending on venue size you may have only been able to have 30 participants in each face-to-face training session. This would mean that you’d have to coordinate multiple training delivery days across various locations. Trainers may have needed to travel to different offices or even completely different parts of the country, contributing to costs through accommodation and other travel expenses. And we haven’t even mentioned printing yet!

For most face-to-face training sessions, participants are provided with printed training materials like workbooks, as well as additional worksheets and other materials to complete each interactive activity.

On top of the already substantial costs of face-to-face training delivery, participation in training requires teams to be out of their usual work environment for 1-2 full days. That’s a drop of productivity that when added up can cost an organisation quite a lot, especially if there are full departments that have to be out of office at the same time, slowing down other departments.

All in all, face-to-face training delivery, while incredibly effective, requires substantial L&D budgets to successfully deliver on key learning outcomes. The larger and more widespread an organisation, the higher the L&D budget needs to be in order to meet the training costs.


What are the costs of VILT or virtual instructor-led training?

When we look at the costs of virtual learning, otherwise known as VILT or virtual instructor-led training, we can quickly see why this method is widely considered to be a more cost-effective option.

For the most part, live virtual learning sessions can be streamed to 200-300 participants at the same time, from all across the country or even, the world. While this may not be a realistic picture of how many participants typically take part in the same virtual learning session, it perfectly illustrates the accessibility possible in this training environment.

Virtual training is often delivered through a multi-modal approach that incorporates group activities, breakout sessions, open forum discussions and the completion of digital workbook activities. Because of the virtual delivery of this learning content, a lot of the costs associated with printing and training materials are all but eliminated.

Trainers in this learning environment are able to livestream their training or pre-record content from one singular location. In our case, with PTV, our expert facilitators deliver learning content from our world-class training studios, complete with multiple camera angles and high-quality audio and innovative engagement techniques.

One of the greatest benefits of virtual training is the option to break up learning delivery into multiple training modules. This is our preferred method of virtual learning delivery as it allows participants the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into action and come back to their next training module with any questions or additional insights they’ve gained from implementation. This can lead to a greater absorption of learning material as well as reducing the amount of time that training participants are away from their work, resulting in minimal impact on workplace productivity.

After considering both options, where do you stand on the debate? Is virtual learning cheaper, and is that the only benefit to it over face-to-face training?


Is virtual learning cheaper than face-to-face training?

After reading through our analysis of both face-to-face training costs and those associated with virtual learning, we think it’s pretty clear to see where the tangible and intangible costs have the most impact.

As a quick summary, below are the costs to consider with each option.

The costs of running face-to-face training:

  • Venue hire
  • Catering
  • Facilitation + training delivery
  • Workshop materials
  • 1-2 days of lost workplace productivity
  • Travel (if applicable)
  • Accomodation (if applicable)


The costs of running virtual training:

  • Facilitation + training delivery


In summary…

While virtual learning was originally adopted out of necessity, we predict that going forward many organisations will continue to offer virtual learning to their teams due to the benefits and return on investment associated with this approach.

Do you think virtual training will become the new norm, or are you raring to get back to offering face-to-face training? As you begin to plan for the future we’d encourage you to consider what training material can be delivered virtually or in combination with face-to-face training delivery to reduce costs and provide a low-impact offering to essential departments.