This post outlines why, when you’re teaching advanced material online and you need to verify that the students have learned and implemented your material, courses are a better online training tool than webinar training.
This article is from HeatSpring’s Online Education Playbook. We’re expert at both clean energy AND how to utilize online tools to enhance training. If you’re business depends on training, click here to read HeatSpring’s online education playbook.
If you are currently rolling out an online training program and are considering how and when to use webinars, this article is for you. If you already have a series of webinars, and you’d like to increase their effectiveness, this article if for you.

If you’ve already created a series of webinars, don’t feel bad. You’re miles ahead of companies that have done no online teaching at all! If you have a series of webinar content already, you have a solid found of information that you can improve upon. You can sign up for this course to learn how to turn those webinar trainings into great online training courses. Click here –> “How to Turn Your Webinars into Amazing Online Training Courses”

This article is also for our HeatSpring students. We’re often asked: “How does this online course work? Is it like a webinar?” Our response is “yes, its like a webinar, but much better” This article will explain why.

Frequently, we’re asked by manufacurers that want to do a product training or one of our instructors to use webinars as the main means to run a course. A few years ago, we used webinars, but quickly found out that they are not an effective tool for the type of high quality training that we do.

HeatSpring Training Playbook

We’re creating the HeatSpring Training Playbook that will teach everyone how to deliver amazing online trainings. Since 2011, all of HeatSpring students have taken material online, either blended as part of a face-to-face course, or 100% online. By doing this, we have learned exactly how to deliver blockbuster amazing education in an online format.

We’re sharing HOW we use technology to deliver amazing trainings and amplify the impact of our trainers to the benefit of our students and customers. Our goal? Help other people improve their training by at least 10X, hopefully 100X better than they are. Higher quality training, faster, and with fewer resources in terms of cash and time. The first post for the playbook is how to use blended learned to increase the effectiveness of your face-to-face training.

Why Talk About Webinar Training

Webinars are critical to discuss in online education because they’re extremely common, frequently misused, and there are better options.

My goal is not to be negative just to be negative, but because I strongly believe (based on our experience and the number of students we’ve trained) that webinars are a horrible way to deliver very advanced information if you need to make sure that the student is learning and implementing what they’ve learned.

To be sure, here are a few things that webinars can be good for, and we use them for these applications. 

Short live presentation on very simple topics. Think about a 20 minute company update or a short “education” bit that is veiled as marketing and good enough content to charge money for.
Live Q+As. Webinars are okay for this, I’d argue Google+ is actually better. Both work.
1 on 1 conversations where it’s useful for the teacher/instructor to show their screen while troubleshooting as issue or walking through a problem.

What subjects are webinars not good at?

Here’s are few examples of the type of subjects that live webinars are not so good at. This is based on our experience building online courses like; Net Zero Energy Design, Geothermal Designer Boot Camp, 40 Hour Advanced Solar Training, Manual J Boot Camp and others.

These ideas are coming from our history doing clean energy training, but with this list you can imagine many topics across many different industries.

How do you size a 500kW bi-polar inverter?
What’s the best way to size a pump?
How do you structure a PPA?
How do you test and measure soil conductivity?
How does debt financing work vs lease financing?

Why are webinars insufficient? Why are people using webinars?

The reason people are using webinars is that they “kind of barely work” for this situation and they’re the closest tool that exists that most people are aware of. The problem is that people try to use webinars to teach a large group of students VERY complex products, concepts, skills and technologies where it’s VERY important to know how well students learned the information.

For this application, webinars don’t work, you need to be building courses.