Getting back to the classroom

Business,Conference Financial Modelling | F1F9


Andrew Berkley


17 Mar 2022




Assessing the learning experience: live online vs in person courses

It’s with a sense of delight, relief and excitement that we announce that we’re running in-person courses again this year.

A reminder: in-person courses means you get to:

  • travel to a venue;
  • meet an instructor and other course participants in real life;
  • compare notes over coffee and lunch; and
  • enjoy an intensive, immersive learning experience with minimal distraction.

But recently as I returned from my first in-person teaching engagement in over 2 years, I found myself wondering if – just as we had to invent live online tuition back in March 2020 – in-person course delivery was ready for reinvention.

What had I learned from running courses live online that I could now take back into the classroom?


It’s “and… and” not “either… or”

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to continue offering live online courses. That’s in order to give people a choice as to how they want to learn. For some, the short, sharp bursts of learning at their desktop is far preferable to two days in the classroom (plus travel time). These people welcome the chance to switch on for an hour and then switch back to the urgency of their workplace. And the big advantage of live online learning is that sessions are recorded – so you may revisit the teaching as many times as you wish.

But there were also those who did not take to virtual isolation. For example, one of the joys of financial modelling training is when participants help each other out through peer review or informal problem solving. It’s what I describe as fixing your own oxygen mask before helping your neighbour. You help from a position of strength and it’s a great way to support immediate learning. But it can only happen in a physical classroom.

So, in my discussions with people as they determine whether to trust F1F9 with their learning requirements, we talk about different learning styles. Many have welcomed the flexibility of virtual learning, but others have valued informal networking much more highly.


Giving the instructor a hard time

Perhaps the biggest difference between day-long intensive learning in the classroom and short bursts on a virtual platform is the opportunity for you to grill the instructor. When live online we offer the chance to hop on a call between sessions to sort out issues, but in the classroom the invitation to disrupt constructively is always there. F1F9 courses have a tradition of being delivered through healthy debate, and open forum discussion is an essential part of being in the classroom.

I will often lapse into facilitator mode when strong opposing views are expressed as there’s important learning to be had in seeking out common ground. There is interaction on the virtual platform but I’ve always felt that the gloves have been kept on. People want to be polite when they are online – and there’s that extra barrier imposed by microphone and screen.

It’s much more direct in the classroom. I am likely to be challenged more, and people tend to speak plainly.


“Do what I do – and do what I say”

As part of reinventing live online courses, we thought carefully about delivery methods. Our live online courses follow a model based on watching and absorbing. During the formal sessions, you are encouraged to ask questions, think, observe and reflect – but we do not recommend that you model along with the instructor.

That’s because there is value in having a go yourself once the formal session has finished. And you learn from mistakes (we start subsequent sessions by offering feedback on participants’ post-session assignments).

Financial modelling in the classroom is much more active. Here, the challenge is to listen and repeat at the same time. This is challenging and exhilarating – and the experience can be very intensive. Those who do best have usually invested time in pre-course work to make sure they have the basics in place. The continuous nature of the physical classroom – and the opportunity to work with no distractions – allows us to work together: instructor and participant modelling in tandem.


Classroom vs live online

So while we are pleased to welcome back classroom courses, we’re continuing to offer our financial modelling courses live online. Both achieve the same learning objectives – but with quite different delivery philosophies.

The choice is yours and it’s down to personal learning styles. Choose the classroom if you like to challenge the instructor, you learn from informal networking and you don’t mind the disruption of travel. Classroom training is perfect if you are prepared for non-stop, immersive, hands-on modelling.

Opt for live online if you prefer short bursts of learning with plenty of time for reflection. This format is ideal if you appreciate having the flexibility and opportunity to deal with competing priorities as you learn. Enjoy the virtual travel experience: crossing continents and time zones at the click of a mouse.

See upcoming course dates for both formats

Andrew Berkley
With a background in business education and financial advisory work, Andrew leads financial modelling training at F1F9. He has been with F1F9 since 2013.