The Benefits of Online Supply Chain and Logistics Education
As time goes by, I become more and more convinced that online logistics education is revolutionising the way people learn about our professional field. I can even believe there’ll come a time when it’s the primary mode of vocational education, with traditional forms of training falling into more of a complementary supporting role.
Before that happens, certain advances will need to be made in technology, but if the last few years are anything to go by, those advances won’t be far away.
Even as it is, online supply chain and logistics education is immensely popular, mainly because of the many benefits it offers for corporate training programs, individual supply chain professionals, and people planning to enter the industry.
Online Logistics Education is Accessible
Let’s consider accessibility for starters. For the corporate HR department, traditional logistics education requires time, money, and resources to be invested heavily in the development of classroom-based courses or workshops.
External training companies and educational institutions may be used, but the selection process can be lengthy and the resources expensive.
Then there is the impact on productivity and the expenses involved, either in supporting employees’ time away from work or in bringing educators to the workplace. For individuals managing their own logistics education, the same issues apply.
Not so with online learning though, because it’s infinitely more accessible and considerably more affordable than conventional education. That’s surely one reason why it’s fast becoming the training method of choice for companies and individuals alike.
Provider and program selection can be carried out online. Students can learn with institutions and training companies located anywhere in the world. Online training costs less than most traditional programs and enables learning to take place anytime, anywhere.
The Most Flexible Form of Logistics Education
The ability for students to choose when and where they learn is a boon to self-funded students and corporate training managers alike. Companies can choose to allow employees to take time out from work to train, without the need to fund travel and accommodation. Similarly, they don’t need to pay instructors for in-house or external workshops or classes.
Alternatively, students can be offered incentives to learn online during non-working hours.
For individuals, the flexibility of online logistics education means they can fit their learning in around career, domestic, and other obligations. They can even spend time on productive, interactive learning while traveling, or during short periods of time that might otherwise be spent idle.
The Affordability of Online Logistics Education
I already touched on cost when discussing the accessibility of online logistics education, but as it’s always a primary consideration, it’s worth expanding a bit on the affordability of distance learning.
There are many ways in which online education can save costs for companies and individual students. For example:
- Travel and accommodation expenses are eliminated
- Parents can save on the cost of childcare by studying at home
- Online programs are typically less expensive to enroll in than their conventional counterparts
For a company, procurement costs also tend to be lower for online logistics education, since there is little or no need to pay trainers to run classes or workshops. Most of the necessary study-media can be found or created online, so there should be little need to supply employees with printed text books or other costly materials.
Companies can also make cost savings elsewhere by adopting online education. For instance, by way of productivity improvements (as employees can study during downtime). There may also be less need to pay for temporary cover for trainees out on workshops or at classes.
A Customisable Learning Environment
For many, online logistics education holds an appeal that’s missing from physical learning environments. This appeal stems partly from the benefits already described, but is also related to the environment—or rather, choice of environments—presented by web-based training and education.
For example, some people may not feel particularly comfortable in group learning environments, but online learning combines a degree of anonymity with a highly interactive experience. For introverts, this makes it somewhat easier to participate in online study groups, webinars, and conference-style learning sessions.
Others may find it hard to concentrate fully in workshop or classroom training sessions, perhaps becoming distracted by group dynamics or simply by the presence of other people. For this type of student, online learning can be a godsend, enabling study to take place in a distraction-free setting.
The online environment really can appeal to all personality types. If you prefer to learn with others, you can choose to do so. If you like to have something going on around you, mobile devices enable you to take your education with your coffee at the local Starbucks. In short, online training allows you to adapt the learning environment to suit your own, unique preferences.
No Student Left Behind in Online Education
Another big benefit of online logistics education is the ability to support self-paced learning. If you’re a student, you can work your way through an online program at a pace as fast or leisurely as you like.
Not only that, there’s also no risk of finding your progress handicapped because of missed workshops or classroom sessions. The beauty of online learning is that almost everything can be revisited over and over.
Even webinars and interactive sessions are typically recorded, so you can still benefit from them if you miss the live versions. The only thing you might miss of course, is the interactivity.
If you’re an HR or training manager, then you’re more likely to need students/trainees to complete their programs within a certain timescale, but here too, there are benefits to online education.
Programs can be built using software that allows progress monitoring, and individual students can still control the intensity and length of study sessions, which is not really practical when training takes place in the classroom.
Online Logistics Education: Already Good and Only Getting Better
Online learning has already come a long way in a short time and as technology improves, so will the quality of education available. I would expect that advances like augmented reality and the Internet of Things will enable real-world simulations to take over from case studies, for example.
Perhaps artificial intelligence software will allow students to interact with “virtual” instructors available at any time to help them grasp concepts and principles when self-led study is not sufficient.
However, that’s the online logistics training of the future. Right now, as I hope I’ve illustrated, there are already many good reasons to adopt online programs if you’re a corporate decision-maker in training and development, and to become an online student if you’re managing your own vocational education.