Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Online versus in person instruction

After attending the Turning Professional workshop in Maine this past week, I'll take a few minutes to examine my opinion on online versus in person professional development education. 

I'm currently enrolled in a portfolio development class taught online at BetterPhoto.com. I was attracted to the course mainly because I respected the instructor's work and thought it would be a good fit for me. The cost for the class seemed reasonable so i jumped into it with both feet. My responses in comparing the two types of classes are many. 

First and foremost, you simply can't get the kind of attention online that you can get in person. The personal interaction between people is really important to build rapport, especially for critique. The variability of what people can take from critique is massive. Often, a gesture or smile can soften the blow of "I don't like it. Why did you do it that way?" Online this could seriously impair someone's creative motivation.

Second, it becomes difficult to wait for responses online. The instant feedback loop of communicating in person is great. 

From a cost perspective, online seems to be cheaper. What you end up giving away is well worth the money to do in person. 

Online lacks flexibility as well. You can't change the parameters for discussion or format very easily. 

Presentation becomes a factor. Online tends to be in jpg format where prints or RAW files provide a more accurate example of what you are trying to communicate through an image. 

As I ramble on, it becomes apparent that I would prefer in person communication for professional development. It depends what you're after in the end. Working towards promoting myself in the fine art realm, the choice is simple. I would recommend TheWorkshops if you are looking to make a choice between the two. Evaluate your needs in advance very carefully to spend your money wisely. If your goal is a better understanding of Photoshop, you likely don't need to visit Maine and can find a program to suit your needs locally at a community college. 

Until next time,
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