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The Future of: Remote Learning and Development

According to Mark In Style, 72% of organisations claimed that elearning was responsible for keeping them ahead of their competitors in 2020.

A guy learns remotely on a Zoom call.

Now that we’ve found ourselves at the end of 2021, is online learning and development here to stay? It is a fraction of the cost and more convenient for most people involved, so this article will look further into it so that CPD organisers can plan ahead for 2022 and beyond.

Is Remote Learning and Development High-Quality Enough to Stay?

We’ve helped many organisations deliver remote CPD, such as training videos to help IStructE members pass their exams. From feedback from these, we can verify that remote learning resources can offer just as much value as in-person training.

Viewing an online training resource (e.g. training video) does remove the opportunity for learners to engage in live conversations and ask immediate questions. This may pose problems if learners do not take note of these questions to ask in their own time, so learners need to be taught to do this for remote CPD to be effective enough for long-term use. It’d be problematic for users to gain so much of their knowledge from remote videos that they don’t ask further questions about when they struggle.

However, as long as learners are given ample opportunities to ask qualifying questions, remote learning and development can be highly effective. It supports the flexibility that this generation of employees values extremely highly; Forbes states that 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full time, and employees are currently evaluating job offers based on the flexibility to work from home. This is helped by increased workplace focus on mental health in these past couple of years. Letting people schedule their training in their own time is a highly valued way of showing that you care about their wellbeing and schedule. Therefore, remote learning and development is not just “good enough”, but arguably the necessary quality CPD needs to retain employees.

Furthermore, holding your CPD events via a real-time livestream as opposed to a recording, can still allow live questions to be happen and live conversations to take place, such as via live chats or live-scrolling Twitter feeds. This proves that learning and development can be remote without losing its quality of learning. Therefore, there’s no reason it won’t continue to be utilised.

On the contrary, as online events (or hybrid ones, as they still allow online attendees) are easier for people to attend, they allow a wider variety of attendees and industry speakers from all over the world to contribute and attend, even if their schedules are packed or they have a tight budget. Therefore, remote learning and development is on its way to being recognised as higher quality as it can allow richer knowledge-sharing.

The Low Cost of Remote Learning and Development

Remote CPD is much cheaper to attend and host. But does this mean that it’ll continue to be preferred and remain a popular form of CPD?

CPD is much cheaper to attend when it is online. Furthermore, hosts for such events also don’t need to pay for overheads such as large venues or refreshments. They at least don’t need to pay as much when half the attendees are online, in the case of hybrid events. Pippa Mckeown wrote for the TES that, of the 8 CPD sessions she booked at the time of writing her article, none cost her more than £7.

Increasing fuel prices are just one reason why most learners would probably prefer to access remote learning and development than pay to travel to another city for an in-person training session. In today’s economy, in-person CPD events may be unnecessary or unfeasible if the majority of your attendees want to attend online instead.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that remote learning and development will fully replace its in-person counterpart. Higher costs for in-person learning and development just means that this form of training is better for the economy. Food and drinks suppliers, event staff and large conference/convention venues need conferences etc. to take place in person, and will work with organisations to ensure this happens. Therefore, remote CPD is not the only future for learning and development.

A clock in front of a mug, a pair of glasses, and a keyboard.

The Flexibility of Remote Learning and Development

The flexibility of remote CPD adds another advantage to it being adopted in the long-term.

The National College’s website points out that remote CPD lets training providers train all staff, without covers being necessary or teaching staff needing to be sent to other venues for training. Tighter schedules can be adhered to, causing remote CPD to be adopted by thousands of schools, and other industries are noticing this pattern too. In today’s busy working week, “there’s no time to travel to training” is no longer a valid excuse for training to not take place, as it can be done on-demand at any time.

A laptop screen shows a man writing on a blackboard, to teach employees.

Learning Styles and CPD

Steven Brown, environmental manager at C-Plan Telecommunications, spoke to IOSH Magazine about how he completed 8 CPD qualifications during the lockdowns. He stated that remote learning allows one to “structure your day better and learn when you are at optimum attention”. He stated that a combination of face-to-face and remote learning was best, as college and university environments provided quite an ineffective teaching method of lecturers reading to him and him writing down what they said. He prefers learning at his own pace, as do so many people in this day and age where we expect all the information we need to be available right when we need it. This is supported by Dr. Julie Riggs CFIOSH, Senior Head of Education at the British Safety Council, who stated that today’s students and clients have a much clearer idea of when and how they want to study.

Furthermore, Steven added that remote CPD prevents learning being hindered by the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar environment. The IOSH article also specifies how video conferencing as a remote CPD method is more inclusive to learners experiencing certain setbacks. This is because it can allow measures to support students with disabilities, such as subtitles and colour filters on videos.

Therefore, remote learning and development in the form of training videos are highly accessible, and this makes it a very attractive option for the future.

Two women in an office look at a computer together.


We’ve discussed how remote learning and development is high quality and helpful. It will maintain its popularity for these reasons, which is expected to continue due to investments in new remote learning software, apps, gamification, and video technology. Therefore, by 2025, the global market for online education is projected to reach $350 billion.

However, the need for face-to-face interaction and supporting venue staff means that face-to-face learning sessions won’t, and shouldn’t, go completely out of fashion. It will simply be enhanced by digital learning, which lets it support different learning styles, schedules, and budgets.

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