Purposeful Talent Development: Attending Live Virtual Learning vs. Getting the Playback

man learning with others via computer
Jennifer Stangl Photo
Director of Professional Development

3 minutes

When is it worth the effort to participate at the appointed time?

We have access to so many on-demand resources these days, including digital or audiobooks, streaming TV shows and movies, virtual workouts, and recorded webinars and podcasts. 

As a result of widespread “pre-recorded” content and learning events, how often have you registered for a webinar or another live virtual educational offering, only to have something “more important” come up—knowing you’ll be able to catch the webinar later? 

Sometimes we can still learn a great deal by getting the playback of the live event (such as can be done with CUES Elite Access courses and webinars). However, sometimes (such as with the CUES Virtual Roundtables) recordings aren’t made of a learning event. I encourage you to mark your calendar with “live-only” if a virtual learning event that looks like it would be great for you is only offered at a particular time and a playback will not be available later. (If you use Outlook, you can use a particular color to designate such events.)

On the flip side, participating live in online offerings has value in and of itself. You can use another color on such “must attend live” appointments in your Outlook calendar. But how can you decide when the on-demand version is fine and when you really need to be there (albeit virtually)? Here are some benefits of both live and recorded online learning opportunities that may aid your thinking. 

When you join live sessions, you get:

  • Access to the presenter. This gives you the ability to ask questions while you’re learning to ensure you understand the content or to clarify a point in the moment.
  • A chance to engage in discussion. You can connect with the presenter or other attendees to share ideas, glean new perspectives and ask questions, potentially enriching the discussion. 
  • Networking. Many online learning platforms offer group discussion opportunities, allowing for connections to be made that are missed with a recording.
  • Dedicated time. You may give yourself more time to move through the content when you do it at the scheduled live time versus trying to fit it into your schedule later on.
  • Additional insight. Being able to post questions within live learning allows the conversation to move in ways you may not have anticipated and can, therefore, offer insight that might have otherwise not been included.

When you choose to learn on-demand through a recording, you leverage: 

  • Convenience. In addition to taking the class at the best time for you, you may also get access to support project work or another development opportunity two days or five months after the session. Notably, this follow up work is often also a part of live learning.
  • Flexibility. Doing it on your own schedule may help you meet current business deadlines while still accessing the new content you find valuable.
  • Control. Using an on-demand offering may afford you more flexibility to learn at your own pace.

In all, I challenge you to not let your development become an exclusively on-demand experience, allowing everything else to take priority. The next time you register for an online event, reflect on the benefits of attending at the appointed time versus accessing the content later on. Then, mark your calendar accordingly, making space to devote time to your development while still meeting the needs of your everyday work. 

Jennifer Stangl is director of professional development at CUES.

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