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18 November 2017

Online v face to face, a guide

Online v face to face, a guide

Ask current leaders, particularly those in more senior positions what their experience of online learning has been like and reactions are often best described as ‘mixed’.

Often, participants were, and still are directed to banks of materials which they are expected to read through in their own time. Sometimes there will be response boxes, but rarely is there anyone who will read what is written. I remember thinking ‘What is the point’ about much of the online materials I was presented with on various programmes. This was meant to be blended learning, but often represented materials providers couldn’t fit into the few face-to-face days they had available. As well as that, being told information was inside the computer was like offering a closed book which wasn’t the top thing on my priority list.It sometimes seems lots of organisations are telling you to go online to find the information you need. It can be information overload, and many just don’t bother. We know this, because we’ve tracked participants. Without facilitation, engagement is tiny. A discussion in a course website, for example, may get half a dozen responses from a hundred participants.

Compare that to a recent online course I facilitated, where there were over a thousand responses in two weeks from my group of 24 participants. And they didn’t have to do that – the minimum expectation was six responses each (a total of 144).

Facilitated online courses, in which participants engage with each other over a clearly-defined period of time have a wide range of advantages. These include:

  1. The facilitator moves learning on by challenging participant thinking, addressing misconceptions, and ensuring engagement
  2. the course activities are all about structured reflection and communicating ideas
  3. access to resources is easy – on your phone, tablet or laptop
  4. what you get from NPQonline is an amazing library of up-to-date resources not available anywhere else
  5. providers are relieved of the responsibility of creating extensive NPQ curriculum content and can concentrate instead on interpersonal ‘how to’ F2F activities
  6. evaluations repeatedly show that NPQonline learning has a very positive impact on leadership development.
  7. in an era of austerity, online courses offer incomparable value for money. And there is no cost for schools in covering staff out of school to attend face-to-face events
  8. huge benefits in rural or widely spread communities, with NPQ participants working closely together despite being many miles apart

These ideas are expanded within this Powerpoint presentation

We know that where providers use NPQonline facilitated online courses as part of their provision that over 99% successfully complete each online course, that the amounts of learning are very high, particularly for already very busy people, and that there is a real and lasting impact on school improvement. Participants are enthusiastic for the courses, and deeply appreciate the facilitation. For example:

‘The facilitator emailed me personally to ask why I hadn’t logged in. He followed up with 2 further emails, very sound advice and understanding. Very well led in this course- he is very motivating, thank you for your time and input.’

‘The timing of this unit was a challenge for me. The facilitator had made himself very approachable, and was extremely supportive throughout the unit. I am very grateful to him for his guidance and support, without which I doubt I would have been able to successfully complete.’

Use this link to see an example page from one of the online courses.

If you’d like to know more, contact

Customer endorsements

  • “We have been very impressed with the quality of the online courses and have received excellent feedback from participants about their experiences. We have also been able to build on the learning from the online courses in the face-to-face days. The NPQonline facilitators really help to challenge participants’ thinking. The quality of resources is outstanding.”
    • - Surrey Schools Teaching Network
  • “Working with the team from NPQonline has been a dream. They have been extremely professional and responsive to all our needs, impeccable service! I would highly recommend NPQonline as an excellent source for supporting any NPQ programme.”
    • - Lambeth Teaching School Alliance
  • “NPQonline develop their programmes to an extremely high specification ensuring high quality content and up-to-date material. NPQonline continues to provide LSSW with state of the art programmes which form a significant part of our offer. Feedback can best be described as excellent.”
    • - Leading Schools South West (Cornwall & Devon)
  • “We chose NPQonline because they had the broadest expertise, and were open to working together in partnership, a key part of our original license bid. Their style and approach mirrors our open and friendly, yet challenging support for candidates at all levels, and the highest expectations of participation and success rates.”
    • - School Improvement Liverpool