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Pros and Cons of Classroom and Online Training for Certification Prep

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IT professionals with more than bare minimum budgets (or employer support) may find training a valuable certification preparation tool. Countless options for classroom and online training are available, so it’s important to choose the best and more suitable offerings. In this article, you’ll learn how to assess cert prep training, and how to choose what’s right for you and your budget.
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Although there’s no other certification preparation tool that beats top-notch training from a competent instructor, along with hands-on access to a training lab and its facilities, you must pay for that privilege—sometimes dearly. A classroom encounter with the best names in the field can easily cost more than $1,000-1,500 per day, and it may also involve travel expenses to and from the training center, along with charges for meals and accommodations while away from your home-and-office routine. Be that as it may, many people believe that the best learning occurs when cert candidates can get away from the daily grind and concentrate solely on gearing up for the exam that usually stands between candidates and their credentials.

In this article, we’ll look at two different kinds of training available for many certification credentials. On the one hand, we’ll look at the pros, cons, and costs of classroom training (or ILT, for “instructor-led training” as it’s called in the training business). On the other hand, we’ll look at the pros, cons, and costs of online training, which comes in a variety of forms that range from a near-analog to ILT to a more typical (and often less costly) self-paced, self-administered collection of training materials available through a website.

Classroom Training/ILT: Best Bang for Big Bucks?

When it comes to certification preparation, strategies that involve classroom training generally incur the highest costs. Typical costs vary from $25-30 an hour at the low end, usually from providers that include community college and technical costs; to $100+ an hour at the high end, usually from top-flight training companies or high-end, vendor-sponsored training outlets such as the Cisco Learning Network.. Given that a typical certification class can involve 40 or more hours of official classroom time, such costs can quickly mount up.

Even so, classroom training still has great value and tremendous appeal. First and foremost, a good class comes with a good or even great instructor, of whom students can ask questions, solicit advice, and obtain serious one-on-one interaction and assistance. Instructors can adjust their coverage and delivery on the fly to accommodate their students’ backgrounds, needs, and frames of reference. Nothing, but nothing, beats a good instructor when it comes to maximizing the return on a learning encounter, more so if that encounter includes plenty of face-to-face interaction.

In fact, the most common trade term for classroom training is ILT, short for “instructor-led training.” This puts the emphasis on the instructor, and underscores the notion that a well-qualified instructor’s leadership, insight, flexibility, and insight are what really make a classroom experience shine. If a particular instructor comes up short on one or more of these criteria, the value of the training experience will suffer. That’s why it’s so important when you decide to plunk down cash for ILT, that you pick and choose the very best instructor so you can maximize your return on the often sizable investment involved in attending such as class.

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