by Jonathan Poole
Safety Services Manager

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter most aspects of business operations, questions surrounding the best options for employee training persist. Does it make more sense to complete training online or are classes with in-person trainers preferred when offered safely? The answer often depends on diverse factors, including the training provider, the precautions taken, the topic (some states do not allow virtual options for regulated topics) and students’ learning preferences. Before deciding what style of training best fits your needs, ask yourself what your instructional goals are and how obstacles to travel and meeting in groups might be overcome.

Online learning has thrived during the pandemic for reasons that include worker safety, cost and convenience. With many work facilities shut down or curtailing visitors, virtual training has been the only option for some. 

Gradually, as states ease COVID-19 restrictions and the possibility of in-person instruction returns, the choice of delivery becomes debatable. Is virtual training still the best choice? 

Consider the challenges of online learning. In a perfect world where technology is never the issue and online connections remain flawless, many learners still crave interaction and immediate clarification. The opportunity to ask substantive questions often eludes virtual instruction. Attendees seldom debate topics, and instead, settle for the information the instructor delivers. This lack of discussion makes the learning experience superficial for many attendees who fail to understand how particular EHS topics are applicable to their work roles. There are online strategies to address this virtual disconnect, but sadly, many training providers fail to acknowledge the issue and deliver static information that fails to resonate with learners.   

With regard to in-person training sessions, providers that successfully incorporate screening, mask requirements, social distancing and disinfecting practices all demonstrate that instruction can be delivered safely and effectively. Many learners prefer in-person sessions because they benefit from the input and questions of other attendees as well as the dynamic class environment. Compared to online classes, most in-person scenarios are designed to solicit feedback and appeal to a wider range of sensory learners who require more than a voice and PowerPoint slides. 

In-person training also allows for hands-on instruction. While such training has recently been modified to conform to social distancing and disinfecting requirements, the adjusted versions still offer students the opportunity to better experience complex tasks that can fall flat online. Demonstrations can be performed during virtual instruction as well, but most employers prefer in-person training that incorporates superior viewing, opportunities for interaction and details unique to customer facilities.

Regardless of training requirements, do not allow the pandemic to prevent you from obtaining the instruction necessary to keep everyone safe. The pros and cons of virtual training may convince you it fulfills your needs and limits exposure for those participating. The EI Group continues to evolve with the pandemic, adapting our online EHS courses to provide the best learning experience available. We recognize the limitations to virtual training and continue to expand our delivery to include client customization where possible. EI presenters promote discussion and facilitate question and answer periods that encourage attendees to engage with others participating remotely. 

Still, we serve clients who prefer the traditional classroom setting. As industry leaders in developing and implementing COVID-19 screening strategies as well as EHS training, The EI Group meets or exceeds all CDC guidelines for in-person instruction both at our offices and at customers’ facilities. EI screening includes temperature checks and questionnaires for each instructor and student. We require masks, provide hand-sanitizing stations and socially distance our attendees. In our offices, we have increased air exchange rates while promoting behaviors to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, ensuring the health of our students, trainers, their families and our communities. 

How Can We Help?
No matter your preference, online or in-person, contact The EI Group today to speak to our EHS professionals about delivering exceptional training that safely exceeds your instructional requirements. We offer a diverse collection of EHS classes, including regulated topics, so call (800) 717.3472 today or visit us online at