Research online vs face to face

Aug 17, 2017

Hi Everyone

I have a colleague who insists that face to face training is more effective than online. Can anyone point me to a body of research that compares the two delivery methods?

4 Replies
Steve Flowers

Hi, Kate - 

Here's an article that summarizes a recent research report by the brilliant Wil Thalheimer.

In short, it depends and, at the same time, for most things it doesn't make a difference. If the design of the instruction and activities are spot on in both, each can be equally as effective as the other. If both are equally poor, eLearning will tend to outperform face to face. Blended will outperform both. It's important to look at all of the factors. Some skill gaps are easier to close in physical space while others may be a perfect match for a self-paced eLearning package. In comparing the two, an eLearning product is more scalable and may have greater reach. 

"The best current evidence is that media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition (Clark, 1983, p 445)."

Kate Niblett

Thanks Steve - so well put. I've found in many organisations the resistance to online/blended delivery is often more about job protection than training outcomes. Thanks for your assistance - much appreciated



Cathryn (Kate) Niblett

Training Development Manager

Education Training & Research, Wide Bay Hospital & Health Service
Department of Health


07 4184 1870 |


65 Main St Hervey Bay, Q 4655


Queensland Health | e: []

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