Traditional Learning vs. Online Learning: The pros and cons of each

Employers must make a business decision between training their employees through traditional learning or online learning.  It is crucial to weigh both the benefits and costs of each method.

The viewpoint of this post will be based on home care agencies training their caregivers to stay in compliance with their in-service/continuing education.

Most States have started to accept online education as a replacement to the traditional method of complying with in-service for caregivers. Below is a summary of the minimum number of training hours required for the occupational titles that comprise New York’s home care aide workforce:

Occupation Setting Minimum Training Hours Annual In-Service Requirement
Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Private homes, adult homes, assisted living residences, adult day health programs, congregate care residences, Assisted Living Programs 40 hours 3 hours semiannually or 6 hours annually
Resident Care Aide Adult homes, Assisted living programs, Assisted Living Residences 40 hours 12 hours
Home Health Aide (HHA) Private homes 75 hours in DOH approved program 12 hours

On May 9, 2017, the New York State Department of Health published DAL: DHCBS 17-01.   Indeed, it was published for the purpose of providing and clarifying the in-service requirements for aides.  Consequently, it referred to aides employed by licensed home care agencies (LHCSAs) and certified home health agencies (CHHAs)/long term home health care programs (LTHHCPs).

The DAL articulated that modalities for the annual In-Service requirement may include presentation, lecture, demonstration, videotape, webinar, and online trainings.

As LCHSAs and CHHAs/LTHHCPs are continually incorporating technologies to create better unit economics and better outcomes. The debate over traditional learning vs. online learning has become forefront.

Online Training

Benefits Disadvantages
Less expensive Less face to face interaction
Reduced logistics Perceived lack of self-discipline
Flexibility to the student Reluctance to adopt new technology


Traditional Classroom Training

Benefits Disadvantages
Classroom environment provides “human touch” Expensive
Group setting teaches how to interact in different settings Pulls employees off jobs
Can learn from other students Scheduling and logistics are time-consuming


Equally important, there have been many articles and more recent research showing the effectiveness of online training within the healthcare industry.

Some quotes and stats:

“Maloney et al. [26] found that where a break-even analysis is completed to determine the true cost of a web-based education, the web-based approach was ‘robustly superior than a traditional in person education…”

“The adoption of digital tools can, in fact, free up time allowing learners to learn concepts and to reflect on practices…”

“In order to gain the necessary skills, it was acknowledged that engaging with e-learning, including the development of such programs, was important for gaining skills….”

“I have found it difficult at times to have a ‘discussion’ online as you are never quite sure about the exact meaning of what people are saying.”

“We can’t work alone! We need to work as a team

“Lack of infrastructure and technology can be seen as a barrier in health education”

Most important, the author believes that the ‘resistance to change’ argument around e-learning technology is too simplistic. In addition, the demands on the health industry is to increasingly do more with less. Consequently, the organizations who do not adopt technology will ultimately fall behind their peers dramatically.