Classroom training, live online training, e-learning or webinar? We list the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide

The time when classroom training was the only way to train your employees is long gone. Since the Internet has become such a big part of our lives, training providers had to come up with digital solutions as well. So they did, and this resulted in a wide variety of online training formats to choose from.

There’s live online training, e-learning modules, and countless webinars. But do you know the differences between all these digital training formats? In this article, we’ll explain how all these training formats are different, and we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages for each format.

Classroom training

Classroom training is the most well-known training format. Students gather in a classroom, where a trainer explains the course content. The trainer guides the students throughout the course and answers questions whenever needed.

Advantages of classroom training:

  • Greater focus. Ignoring incoming calls, texts and emails is a lot easier when you’re in a training room because it is a controlled environment. Online training requires more self-discipline.
  • Being in a classroom together creates a sense of community, which sparks interaction between students and trainers, and encourages personal networking.
  • Trainers can read the students’ body language during a classroom course, so they can take action when certain students look confused or bored.

Disadvantages of classroom training:

  • It is more expensive than online training because of travel costs, the cost of renting a training room if you don’t have a suitable room available within your company, lunch costs, and so on.
  • Classroom training often takes place during working hours. Depending on your employees’ workloads, it might be hard for them to make time for training during working hours.
  • Students can’t learn at their own pace. Not everyone learns at the same speed, so fast learners who are being held back might end up getting very frustrated. The same goes for slower learners trying to keep up with the rest of the class. That being said, our trainers will always try to take both fast and slower learners into account, and adapt their pace accordingly.

Live online training

Live online training is the online format that comes closest to the classic classroom training. When students join a live online training, they actually join a virtual classroom. They are able to talk to other students and the trainer via a microphone.

The trainer is visible via a webcam and explains the course material as they would normally do in a real classroom. Slides and visual aids are shown via the screen-sharing option of the chosen video-conferencing tool.

Students always have the possibility to ask questions by using their microphones, which means that they have full trainer support throughout the course. Some video conferencing tools such as Zoom even allow the trainer to divide students into groups to mimic a real classroom experience.

Advantages of live online training:

  • Students can attend the training from the office or even from the comfort of their own homes. This saves them time because there is no extra commute and improves work-life balance.
  • Live online training is cheaper than classroom training. Classroom training typically comes with significant extra costs, such as travel to and from the venue, renting a training room and lunch. Live online training eliminates these costs.
  • Greater flexibility. Because there is no need to book a classroom at an external venue and trainers don’t need to make extra commutes, live online training courses can often be organised within a shorter term than classroom training.

Disadvantages of live online training:

  • The threshold to interact with others is greater than in a real-life classroom. People generally find it harder to interact with people they haven’t met in real life, so building relationships will require more effort during an online training.
  • People might start to feel isolated when they attend live online training from home, because they find it harder to interact with other students.
  • Not all live online courses are of good quality. A good live online course should be adapted to fit into the online format. Trainers need to adapt their training methods to the format as well. Look for a training partner who takes appropriate measures to ensure good quality of their live online courses.


E-learning grants students access to an online learning platform for a certain amount of time (mostly somewhere between 30 and 90 days). The platform is designed to allow students to self-study the material whenever and wherever they want, at their own pace.

E-learning contains a mix of explanatory videos, digital textbooks and online exercises. When the e-learning access ends, students often have the possibility to take an online exam to obtain a certification or a certificate of completion.

Advantages of e-learning:

  • E-learning offers great flexibility. Students can learn at their own pace, whenever and wherever they want. It allows employees with a busy schedule to learn during evenings, weekends and holidays.
  • Students can re-do a chapter as many times as they want, without having to worry about slowing down others.
  • Students can skip the chapters they already have knowledge of and focus on the chapters that contain new information. This saves them time and prevents them from getting bored.

Disadvantages of e-learning:

  • There is no trainer support. Students will have to rely on forums and Google to find answers to their questions.
  • E-learning offers great flexibility, but that also means that it requires lots of self-discipline to finish the course before the platform access ends. This might not be the ideal training method for procrastinators.
  • There is no possibility to interact with other students, which might create a feeling of isolation.


A webinar is a shorter version of a live online training. As with a live online training, the trainer is visible via webcam and explains the material.

Webinars are meant to give you a short introduction into a certain topic, unlike other training formats that offer more in-depth information. At the end of a webinar, most trainers make some time to do a short Q&A to answer your questions, but there is no possibility to have real interaction with the trainer.

Advantages of webinars:

  • Webinars do not provide in-depth coverage of the topic, but they can offer practical tips & tricks and spark creativity.
  • Lots of webinars are free of charge.
  • Webinars are short, making it easier for employees to fit them within their work schedules.

Disadvantages of webinars:

  • Not all webinars are of good quality. You might end up listening to an inexperienced speaker or a company sales pitch instead of an informative webinar.
  • Since webinars are rather short, there is only limited time for interaction. The speaker might not be able to answer everyone’s questions.
  • There are so many webinars available nowadays which makes it hard to decide which ones are worth your time, and which ones aren’t.


There is no right or wrong when it comes to picking a training format. It depends on your current situation, goals and personal preferences. We hope this information helps you make an informed decision on a training format that suits your employees.

Are you currently creating an employee training programme, and could you use some extra guidance? Then consider selecting us as your learning partner! In this article, we’ll show you how The Campus works, and how our courses can make your life easier while selecting the right in-company training course to upskill your company’s IT department.

The Campus, Charlotte Van Rompaey 28 September, 2020
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Learning is more than just another classroom training