I was recently asked a question from a manager regarding someone on my team when I requested to send them to a training experience:
Are there CBT based alternatives that may be more affordable that [the team member] can take in his down time?
This question is definitely a tricky one. The question is not really “is there an alternative?” – yes, in the current age there is always an online alternative.
Are they comparable alternatives? No.
I have done many hours of online webinars, Pluralsight courses, and remote learning in my almost twenty years as a DBA. I would never say online learning can’t work for a specific purpose when properly applied. (Of course we often don’t properly apply it because we try to horn it in between all of the other distractions of work and life; this is one of the benefits to going away to training, even though travel costs money – it removes the learner from the distractions of not only work but also the rest of their lives when they don’t have to go home at night.)
I still think we need to pursue online courses, such as Pluralsight subscriptions. I have written many times on this blog about Pluralsight, PASS Virtual Chapters, and other online experiences.
Having said that, the *most useful* training experiences I have ever had come from being present in-person at an event (a conference or a class), and interacting with the instructors *and attendees* at the event, both during the event time and before and after.
I cannot list the number of times that I have gained extra knowledge or solved real-world problems by interacting with classmates during downtime between lectures or exercises or at breakfast/lunch/dinner around the event. I had an experience at my last employer before Ntirety (actually at a SQLskills class) where something went wrong at a client while we were at class, and the class including the instructors worked with me to brainstorm and ultimately resolve this issue.
Standing in a classroom or conference center with other professionals gives opportunities for interactive learning that just don’t – can’t – exist with a CBT. The CBT can spit knowledge at you, but it can’t answer your responsive questions, and it definitely can’t take meaningful detours into related topics.
…and that’s what real high-end training and learning is all about, Charlie Brown.
On the subject of cost, there are less expensive in-person Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) classes about very broad topics offered by instructors at dedicated training facilities (such as New Horizons) who are usually certified *instructors* (material deliverers) but not certified *database professionals* and this greatly limits the value of the interaction as well as the quality of the material itself. Training at higher-end classes and conferences are created and delivered by persons who work with the product daily as part of their lives, not people who just talk about the product M-F 8-5.
As always, this is my $.02.
Hope this helps!