Since 1992, when I founded Pegasus Lectures, the pace of business, education and life has accelerated radically. For emerging professionals, the most precious and inelastic commodity is time. To be successful, one must both conserve and properly allocate time.
The subject of time and its efficient use is central to today’s topic:
Online Registry Review vs. Live Registry Review Seminars
In the credentialing and board exam preparation resource space that Pegasus Lectures operates, much has changed in the past few years. The prevailing approach has been to hold live seminars in different cities with students attending two to three day intensive reviews, bookended with days of travel. With more and more time constraints, and employers often unwilling to allow the time off for education, this model has become less practical. The advent of digital technologies has introduced a solution through a new learning paradigm.
But this new paradigm raises the question of whether digital resources can truly be as effective as in-person classroom teaching? An objective comparison between the two condenses down to the following four advantages for online (digitally-delivered) material and a few initial disadvantages that needed to be addressed:
CONVENIENCE – It seems pretty clear that instantaneous access to an education portal from your laptop or tablet is the gold standard of efficiency…until such time as the Construct is perfected (for those of you old enough to remember the movie The Matrix). Online eCourses provide the ability for you to study when you have the time, are in the correct frame of mind, and are truly comfortable (most people do not come to lectures wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers).
COST – Even with the temporary respite from $4-per-gallon gasoline, travel and lodging costs are prohibitive. Many students weighing the cost/benefit of live seminars are sadly disappointed to find these travel costs actually exceed their registration fees. And that does not even factor in the associated travel time, stress, and in some cases, unpaid vacation days.
CONTENT QUALITY* – The quality of online content, like the quality of live seminars, can vary significantly. In many cases, online lectures are dry voiceovers of a PowerPoint presentation. When done well, online content can be as good or better than live content. Effective online learning incorporates interactive components such as animations, interactive simulations, or quizzes to provide immediate assessment of your comprehension of the material. With online learning, you no longer have to absorb the material at the pace of all the attendees in a live seminar – you can learn at your own pace. Additionally, you have the ability to move quickly over areas in which you are comfortable AND/OR pause the lecture to review material with which you are struggling.
RETENTION – The biggest drawback to a live lecture is the ability to retain all of the content taught. In live seminars as well as with online courses, students retain information best when iteration is used. With Pegasus courses, students complete pre-class work which allows for iteration of key concepts. Coupled with conceptual teaching, so the student understands how the concepts relate to their clinical practice, these techniques result in a much higher retention and recall rate. Our online eCourses provide a natural benefit for retention in that the teaching is broken down into modules. Being able to book-mark challenging sections of a lecture for review or to pause a study session to address unexpected obligations or fatigue, improves content retention. In a live seminar, you hear the lecture once and then are on a plane home. With our online delivery platform, after viewing each module, you have the ability to review content areas of weakness, an invaluable tool in retaining concepts.
In fairness to classroom-based learning, these two advantages should be considered…
INTERACTION – Specifically in smaller class sizes, the opportunity for instructor-to-student communication and feedback is undoubtedly valuable. To overcome this drawback, we offer monthly office hours during which students ask questions and speak with me directly. In fact, I am coming to believe that this approach is more advantageous than a live course as you have the luxury after viewing a module to think about what you do and do not understand, and then ask very pointed questions to address misunderstandings and gaps in your knowledge.
MOTIVATION – For many people, being at a live lecture provides the motivation to stay focused and work on the content, whereas online lectures can be put off through procrastination. Pegasus Lectures addresses this issue by providing a detailed, yet flexible schedule to organize your participation as well as offering the Pegasus Pass Guarantee . Our clinical staff routinely works with course participants, helping them develop a study plan specific to their needs and time constraints.
This discussion has considered primarily the issues associated with online versus live review seminars. The question regarding online versus traditional classroom teaching is a much larger conversation which does deal with some of the same issues as mentioned above, but also introduces many more questions. From my perspective, I believe that online learning versus traditional classroom-based education should not be viewed strictly as an either/or proposition. In its most ideal application, online learning can supplement and reinforce classroom education so that you may benefit from the strengths of both. For this reason, we continually explore college partnership relationships whereby students are given the resources they need to achieve credentialing and advance into their careers.
In two weeks, I will expand on this concept of “blended learning”.
* This is not meant as a comparative discussion of the quality of online educators versus instructors and professors at schools. As referenced above the effectiveness of a presentation (either online or live) can vary significantly.