The Rise of Online Learning

By Kat Cooke / 01 Oct 2015

As many now look to online training as a major source of professional education, Aesthetics investigates the increased use in our industry

A 2014 survey from the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI), an organisation for workplace learning professionals, showed organisations’ selfpaced e-learning had risen by 59% in just one year; compared to classroom-style training, which had dropped by 29%.1 The response, which came from 320 individuals, including chief executives, general managers and managing directors, showed online learning was growing substantially.So why is e-learning on the increase, and can it benefit trainee aesthetic practitioners and those wishing to expand their skill set

Moving with the times

There are many training companies that have introduced online learning within the last few years; the Harley Academy, Cosmetica Training and the Medical and Aesthetics Training Academy (MATA) are just a few aesthetic training organisations that now offer e-learning modules. As well as aesthetic training companies, a number of individual practitioners who provide training are also delivering more webinars and online tutorials to their trainees. “Innovation is the currency of progress,” says academic technology coordinator, Aran Levasseur who writes for MindShift, an organisation that examines the future of learning. Lavasseur argues, “The social and economic world of today and tomorrow requires people who can critically and creatively work in teams to solve problems. Technology widens the spectrum of how individuals and teams can access, construct and communicate knowledge.”3
Dr Tristan Mehta, managing director of the Harley Academy, agrees the increase in online learning is a positive step. “The main benefit is that it’s flexible. People are very busy nowadays and need to work around existing commitments and at their own pace. E-learning provides a platform for useful tools such as online lectures, videos, diagrams and more.” Dr Mehta believes that the use of online learning is the only way to adhere to the new guidelines published by Health Education England (HEE), aimed at improving training standards in the industry. Commissioned by the Department of Health, HEE has made recommendations on regulations for the non-invasive cosmetic specialty. “The new guidelines state training must be delivered at higher education standard, which now means students need anywhere between 50 and 100 hours of teaching time to be able to reach these standards. This is something that can’t be done in a one-weekend training course,” explains Dr Mehta, adding, “the guidelines published by HEE specify that students must pass a rigorous assessment, which takes into account a portfolio of evidence including online learning.”4

Pros and Cons

Aesthetic practitioner and trainer Dr Raj Acquilla explains that, although he still spends a significant proportion of his time presenting at congresses, the use of webinars has made it much easier for him from a teaching perspective; “I was working in 40 countries doing big conferences and would sometimes have an audience of up to 3,000 people. At the end, people would come up to me and ask ‘when can I learn from you?’ Unfortunately I can’t be everywhere at the same time, so I created a series of webinars. They have been hugely successful and really compliment my teaching.”
While the use of available resources online can enhance modern-day learning, there are some legitimate concerns. “I could potentially empower bad practitioners who could then go on to do terrible work,” says Dr Acquilla. “I have to purely rely on the integrity of the individual.” There are also limitations, as Dr Mehta explains, “Students will need to have the dedication and commitment to do well – that’s key.” Last year, 74% of companies around the globe used learning management systems (LMS), virtual classroom, webcasting, and video broadcasting.This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given that e-learning can half a business’ training costs.However, Annequa Bhatti, marketing and model coordinator at the Medical and Aesthetic Training Academy (MATA), said online learning isn’t just about cost cutting, “The online programme at MATA was created to improve the standard of training in the medical aesthetic industry and adhere to the new HEE guidelines.” Bhatti explains, “We’ve tried to make it ‘fun’; so whilst it’s very informative and rich in content, we’ve tried to make it as interactive and engaging as possible to keep people’s attention.”
An additional concern is that the transparency of learning online could cause some practitioners to feel vulnerable; worrying their techniques and treatments are been given away too freely. “If you’re a Michelin star chef and you share the recipe for your signature dish, someone could copy it, open a restaurant next door and become a competitor – that might be a worry for some,” explains Dr Acquilla. His belief, however, is that through sharing best practice techniques and treatment, practitioners are improving both the standards and aesthetic results within the industry.

Looking to the future

Despite some disadvantages, it is predicted that this year, 98% of organisations will use e-learning courses as part of their learning strategy.“E-learning is becoming big in every industry; we’re such a digital generation now,” says Bhatti, concluding, “you don’t need the classroom setting to take part in non-practical learning; industries are moving forward.”

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