Using Online Tools to Provide Training

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With the wide array of opportunities that exist on the Internet, nonprofits can and should enhance their training by using online tools. In fact, because nonprofits are collaborative in nature, they can be the driving force behind testing and proving the impact of social networking and training tools now available on the web. The opportunities that online tools provide are endless and depend on your needs and situation. However, many people are reluctant to adopt new technology. It’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of any tool before you adopt it. Specific pros and cons will vary depending on the tool and the goals of the training provider. If you decide that using online tools is the right way to go, you’ll need to determine which tools will fit best with your organization's goals and the needs of your learners.

There are many benefits of using online tools

There are many benefits of using online tools for training. For instance, remote trainings reduce travel and logistical costs. Therefore, providers might be able to deliver ten trainings instead of four because of the cost savings. Online training can also be used to build a sense of community among dispersed organizations. Many tools allow for frequent communication among training participants, either via chat boards, discussion boards, or email.

Many of the tools allow for on-demand usage, allowing ultimate flexibility for busy people. Knowledge from trainings can be retained through recordings that can be easily accessed anytime online. This availability maximizes the reach of training. Also, because you can store documents and resources online, you’re able to share resources quickly and easily. Another major benefit of online tools is that they can accommodate people’s differing schedules. Fortunately, there are online training tools that have a free or low-cost option for at least the basic services.

There are also some drawbacks to using online tools.

There are also some drawbacks to using online tools for training. First, any technology has the possibility of failure. You could be in the middle of an online training and have technical difficulty. Also, you must allocate adequate time to implement online tools correctly. Of course, new technologies are constantly being created, and you will regularly need to evaluate your options and determine whether to go for the “newer and better” or stick with the current tool. Usually, sticking with the same tool for the long-term is best.

Some people are uncomfortable with technology and are still reluctant to try it out. Research on the demographics of social networking usage is always coming out. Before using any social networking media, check online for the latest research to assess whether it is appropriate for your target audience. Don't assume anyone is too old to be using the latest technology! Another potential drawback of online learning is the lack of human interaction. Certain training topics might be better suited to classroom instruction. Virtual trainings might prove impersonal and offer less opportunity for participant interaction and communication cues than in-person training.

Use this Benefits/Drawbacks Checklist to assess whether to use online training.

Click this link to download a Benefits vs. Drawbacks checklist.

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