It’s a bold claim. But I now think online training is better than face to face training.

Five years ago it was a statement that could only have come from your advertising agency if you were an e-learning provider or the accounting department if you were a training provider. No self respecting educator could possibly have entertained the thought that teaching communication online could be better than inspirational classroom teaching and integrated activities to practice what you’d learned. I would have been right there with them.

It seemed oxymoronic to place people in front of a computer in order to teach them how to communicate and work in a team.

Life skills, foundations skills, generic skills, soft skills (could we not eventually pick a name and stick to it please) – whatever you call them; they are an intangible combination of personality, culture, upbringing and life experience. Nature or nurture, the evaluation and accountability of behaviour is a subject most passionately debated from nursery to grave.

We can only confidently say that it is a combination of both; my money is not going on any particular percentage. But I digress. Back to learning life skills online; why have I changed my mind?

What is it about analyzing your behaviour, understanding your motivations and evaluating alternative ways of communicating that might work better online?

Just saying it out loud holds a key.

Who wants to analyze their behaviour in a public forum, in a classroom, in front of people we hardly know? Who wants to peel back the layers of their motivations, their fears and their insecurities in a public forum?

True, there will always be people who love to be on show. Rest assured there will always be a version of the Big Brother House or an audience for an Oprah. And good for them; but for many of us, the chance to delve into those recesses, to think about how we act and how we re-act to other people is something that is extremely personal and extremely complex. Storytelling, filmmaking, game playing – the same tools that the trainer used in the classroom are available for the online soft skill educator. It is early days. There is but a glimmer so far of what is possible...

However, in the past few years we have witnessed an explosion of online relationship building and maintenance.

We’ve learned to express ourselves in print again. Letter writing is back in the form of emails. Notes are back in the form of social media. We’ve moved business and personal relationships into the online space with a nimbleness that is extraordinary. Not everything and not everyone. But lots – and it’s growing every day. Online, offline and every combination of one way, two ways, ten ways and a million people making connections both personally and digitally.

So, is it such a leap to think that online might be a perfect space, a perfect forum, a safe forum to learn about ourselves and hone our emotional intelligence? I don’t think so. I think it could just be the perfect place.

But, just like it’s always been in all modes of learning, the experience we have in this online space needs to be great. We need to really engage if we are to truly learn.

Anyway - that’s what we think.