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Matthew Joyes is Risk Services Director at ATC Risk Management; one of the UK's leading providers of risk solutions including health and safety training and health and safety consultants. His experience involves working in risk management and health and safety roles across a number of industries, including retail, logistics and distribution, healthcare and the police service. Click here to read his full resumé.

Note: All of the entries in this blog provide general advice and should not be interpreted or used as specific health and safety guidance to your organisation - you must always consider your own circumstances and take appropriate action. If in doubt, contact us for professional and specific advice.

Classroom learning, distance learning or e-learning?

Quite often I get asked my views on which route is best to learn, especially with in depth courses such as NEBOSH Certificate qualifications or the NEBOSH Diploma. The general options these days are traditional classroom based learning, distance learning or the more modern e-learning.

I have both experienced as a student and as a tutor all these methods, and firstly I have to say there is no real difference between distance learning and e-learning other than the use of a computer screen instead of a book. I was once told e-learning is the future of learning; however I expect this to realistically happen about the same time as I get my jetpack! I very much struggle learning from a box I spend most of my day looking at, and even with the "interactive" content of e-learning I find my attention slipping too easily. Tools such as smart phones and tablet PCs make the e-learning process easier, but I still believe that the attraction of spending even more time looking at the goldfish bowl of a computer screen not that appealing.

Distance learning is still a popular route to learning, and has its benefits. It allows for flexibility in learning and tends to be cheaper than traditional classroom based training. It's ideal for people who like to learn at their own pace; perhaps someone who can plan out a study schedule and stick to it. Intensive courses like the NEBOSH Diploma really do require a large degree of dedication and commitment to study so anyone planning on distance learning for this type of course really needs a high level of self discipline, otherwise it's far too easy to fall behind. Often learners find that the support of a remote tutor is just not enough to assist them with tricky subjects.

My preference has always been classroom training as the best form of learning, especially for those longer or more intense programmes. The benefits of classroom training include the presence of a tutor at all times and the support of the other learners. This is something often underappreciated by many. Other learners are great at offering support, encouragement and even anecdotes or experiences that help with learning. Classroom training also offers a more structured approach to learning, with each subject broken into manageable chunks and covered in an effective way. Good tutors use a range of methods to engage fully with the different learning styles of learners, ranging from presentations, group exercises, case studies, videos and much more.

At ATC Risk Management we run our NEBOSH Diploma programme as a classroom based course. I am a big believer this is the best way for such a programme as it really allows for structured learning, with the ongoing support of the tutor and other delegates. The pace of the course is based on the learners' needs, so the progress ensures that material is covered and the learning is embedded.

Whichever route you opt for, think seriously about what works best for you, how will you best learn, and what health and safety training provider is going to offer you the best support.

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DISCLAIMER: All health and safety text on this website is provided for information only. Legislation, best practice etc may have changed since it was written, so you should always seek expert advice which fully takes into account your individidual needs and circumstances. To discuss your specific requirements with one of our expert health and safety trainers and consultants, please call us on 0115 984 9940 or contact us online by clicking the envelope in the top right corner of the page.