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  • Writer's pictureJoe Mlynek, CSP, OHST


Updated: Mar 28

Online Learning's and Hands-On Training

My first exposure to online learning was in 1999. I was working in the corporate safety department of a company that had approximately 40 facilities in six states. Due to the size of the company our safety team couldn’t be everywhere at once. We often relied on managers and supervisors to help deliver training. Some did an effective job, while others did not. We decided to use online training to supplement classroom training. It proved to be a simple, effective, and efficient way to standardize content delivery.

I left the corporate world in 2009 and started consulting. I delivered classroom safety training on a consistent basis. It was something I really enjoyed, but it has challenges. The major challenge is the amount of time spent in the classroom. It limits hands-on training opportunities. I was usually allotted one hour per topic. I’d lecture and facilitate discussion for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of testing and questions. Rarely did this allow enough time for hands-on training exercises.

During this same time three of my clients were using online training to supplement the classroom training I provided. This is when I made the connection between online learning and hands-on training. Why not use online training to get the classroom information out of the way so that we could move the classroom out into the work environment. I now refer to this as “moving the classroom.”

From this point forward we began to coordinate online courses to serve as pre-work for group training sessions that involved a hands-on component. Employees would take the associated course(s) online prior to performing hands-on exercises in their work area. This shift resulted in better engagement from those delivering and participating in the sessions. Not to mention that hands-on training in conjunction with passive learning methods, such as online training, increases information retention.

I often have discussions with companies that say, “we prefer classroom training over online training.” I used to reply, “me, too.” Now I reply, “why not do both?

Coupling online learning with hands-on training is an efficient and effective way to increase employee retention and engagement. Consider moving the classroom, I believe you’ll be pleased with the results.


Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, LLC. He has over 20 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at

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