Once you’ve made the decision to get some training, your next big question is what type of training to seek out. Before you dive in, consider the ways adults learn.
There are three basic ways people learn – by listening, by viewing and by touching. Each individual has a “best” – the way they take in, understand and utilize what they are being taught that works well for him or her. And there are certainly enough choices out there to get training. So which one is best for you?
Podcasts: Today the simple podcast (named because initially the primary method of listening to podcasts was on an Apple Ipod or similar device) can be listened to in the car on the way to work, or while you’re working out. If you learn best by listening to instruction, this would be sufficient. However, this is the least common way of learning.
YouTube: There are literally tens of thousands (or even millions?) of videos on YouTube that will demonstrate how to do just about anything. But since they’re all uploaded without being reviewed or verified, it’s impossible to judge the quality of the information. If you stumble across a knowledgeable YouTube channel, you can learn quite a bit, especially if you learn best by viewing. Another advantage is that the videos presented are typically shorter, and often cover only one topic at a time. The disadvantages are, however, that you must rely on the uploader to provide accurate, useful material in a way that makes sense. And you can’t usually ask the YouTuber any questions. There is no one to filter out the unreliable or incorrect material and the YouTuber will often be an amateur user and may also be an amateur presenter. If learning by watching is your thing, YouTube is an excellent resource. And they’re usually free.
Webinars: Like YouTube videos, webinars are learning videos you view on your computer. Like YouTube, they tend to be shorter and cover only a few topics. Unlike YouTube videos, they’re usually scheduled to be viewed at a specific time. They’re typically professionally prepared and presented. And the host(s) of the webinar are usually available to answer questions. The quality tends to be better than YouTube, although it does tend to vary. The biggest disadvantage is that they’re usually not free. Like YouTube, webinars work best for those who learn by watching.
Seminars: Typically a seminar is presented by an expert in the meeting’s topic. However, you may end up taking copious notes while sitting in a semi-dark room watching someone demonstrate the features of your software on a screen in the front of the room. You’ll also see carefully prepared material that is accurate and usually professionally presented. Another advantage is that while you attend a seminar your attention is solely on the material being presented. There are no distractions like phone calls, snack breaks etc.
Classrooms: If the classroom is properly equipped, you’ll be learning using a computer or laptop. You will get to do as well as watch. Classroom training has most of the advantages of other learning methods. Since most of us learn best by touching or doing, a hands-on class is the most efficient. And if you’re a listening learner or a watching learner, a hands-on class, where there are no distractions, where the learning is structured, can benefit you as well.