Alternative Education -- Virtual Classrooms
PIA/GATF, for example, has programmed 16 Webinar sessions in 2005 that cover a range of topics targeting the pressroom, prepress, new technology, and new products and services. The lineup is as diverse as "Value Added: Mailing 101" to "Getting Started with Hybrid UV Printing."
Many companies are using online training to ensure that all employees have the same baseline of knowledge, Jankowski explains. Following an online course, printers will often utilize in-house sessions to expand employees' knowledge regarding their own production nuances.
"Online training cannot, and does not, replace on-site training where the trainees have the ability to ask questions of a real, live person," Jankowski admits. "In addition, packaged online training cannot address workflow-specific issues that differ from facility to facility."
Although online training is gaining popularity, Workman states that PIA/GATF has not experienced a big drop in attendance at its live conference sessions. In fact, he reveals that the association's conferences did quite well in 2004, and so far in 2005, its workshop attendance is ahead of last year.
"People seem to know that a Webinar is no substitute for an intense, hands-on program in our training facility or the networking and education that occurs at one of our conferences," Workman assesses. "Webinars provide a quick dose of information—I would expect that in-person seminars that try to do the same thing would be affected."
In fact, Haradon feels that an online training implementation strategy can be a significant contributor towards increased attendance at live events for associations, equipment manufacturers and printers.
"Webinars provide for an on-going training dialogue with an organization's constituency that keeps their constituents engaged with the organization year round," Haradon advises. "So when a live, face-to-face event does occur, people are encouraged to attend in order to personally network with their industry partners."