Have lectures had their day?

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I'm going to do something tomorrow that I haven't done for some time - I'm going to drive for over an hour to attend a CPD course! 

And I bet it will be a two hour drive home as it's an afternoon session so we'll be leaving in the rush hour.

Is it ever worth it to be sat and lectured at for two and a half or three hours? Let's hope so. This particular course should offer plenty of scope for questions from the floor and, I hope, some practical solutions.

However, I do think attending lecture-style CPD events will soon be a thing of the past, at least for most people. For one thing, it's just not how younger people were taught at school or university. Plus for most people the travel time makes it a pretty uneconomical proposition in a world where time is money.

At the same time we have a relentless growth in online training and webinars, which we find very convenient in view of the distance we have to travel to the main training centres - Bristol and Exeter down in our neck of the woods (just stay off the M5 during school holidays!). Used with a bit of planning, we find webinars very effective for small groups, where we can discuss practical issues afterwards in a fraction of the travel time we have saved. Even better, if we book onto a webinar and find that it doesn't meet our needs we can just log off and be back at work within minutes. How many times have you had to sit through a second rate CPD lecture simply because it was less trouble than getting in the car and driving back to the office? I know I have.

What hasn't worked for us is the idea of watching pre-recorded online CPD alone. It might offer the ultimate in flexibility, but the interaction of a group session makes all the difference. It's also harder to avoid, whereas a self-study session is easy to put off in favour of something "more important". Hence my pile of unread articles and magazines is now about three feet high!

So tomorrow should be fun, and hopefully I'll pick up plenty of practical tips to bring back to the office. But the bulk of my CPD schedule for 2014 will be mainly in-house and online again.

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By Old Greying Accountant
29th Oct 2013 23:11

Personally ...

... I love lectures.

I hate webinars and online training. This is for many reasons., the top 3 being:

I am not chianed to my desk, it is nice to get out see a bit of countryside, meet people, get fresh air etc;It is more likely I will attend, if it is a webinar or online there is always something more pressing/interesting.You get better feed back, as one to one communication is far more effective as body language, intonation, facial expressions etc are better communicated in the flesh and you can also communicate quicker and easier, and if necessary stay behind to go in to more detail.

Perhaps as this is not the way young people learn these days explains why standards are falling and exams are being dumbed down?

Although I am on the fringes of Greater London I tend to go to Reading, Southampton, Brighton, even Bristol or Birmingham for CPD as it is a nicer journey, not a lot more time than being crammed in a tube up to the Smoke, and I have clients I can call in on for a bit of relationship building, or I take my camera and go off for a spot of snapping after.

I think staying in the office staring at a computer screen 8 hours a day 5 days a week risks making Jack a very dull boy!

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By Luke
30th Oct 2013 12:25

I like lectures too

I find the interaction more useful than listening to a very dry lecture in front of my PC where I sit 5 days a week on my own.  Also listening to a webinar I do find if it's a bit boring I end up trying to multitask and doing something else at the same time which then negates any usefulness it ever had.

I do try and go to places where it would be useful to go anyway or where there is something interesting nearby so that I can kill two birds with one stone. So next month I am going to a lecture close to a big shopping centre, I will probably go Christmas shopping in the few hours one side of the course.

Us sole practitioners who are real 'sole' practitioners need to get out sometimes!

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By Flash Gordon
30th Oct 2013 13:14


I can't think of much worse than a couple of hours stuck in the car, followed by a couple of hours stuck surrounded by complete strangers, followed by another couple of hours in the car again. Except possibly if you swapped the car for a train - god, 6 hours of people, hideous. No ta, I'll settle for online lectures at a time that suits me, without having to leave home or face making painful (for me) small talk, where I can stop whenever I fancy to put the kettle on.... I love the internet!!!!

Obviously there's a need for both to cater for the (seemingly) 99.9999999% of the population who aren't like me but I'd be lost without online access. Maybe Flash is a dull boy but he's also a lot less stressed and far happier :)

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30th Oct 2013 14:26


I haven't completed a single CPD course in over 10 years "in person", not least as above the wasted amount of time getting to/from the course.

Its often great to get out and about, but I just cant see the business case in terms of what I would be doing with that time, moreover I am so used to now learning what I see as important I would get impatient sitting through the 40% of the course that has no relevance to what I am doing. 



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By Old Greying Accountant
30th Oct 2013 14:35

I don't see it ...

... as being "stuck" in a car. I can stop and get out when I want, I can set the climate as I wish, play or listen to what I want on the radio or MP3 player etc. It has all the home comforts of my lounge with the added bonus of a constantly changing view out the window.

Having a Tom-Tom with live traffic I am routed round jams, and I will often allow a bit longer so I can go the scenic route rather than motorway.

Trains I agree on, and you don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want.

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By Flash Gordon
to FirstTab
30th Oct 2013 14:54

Ah but

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... as being "stuck" in a car. I can stop and get out when I want, I can set the climate as I wish, play or listen to what I want on the radio or MP3 player etc. It has all the home comforts of my lounge with the added bonus of a constantly changing view out the window.

I've not managed to get my sofa to fit in my car yet and I thought the police might complain if I was unable to see through the windscreen because of my reclining position! Plus it's difficult to drive with a dog curled up on your feet and a cat on your stomach. (The cat isn't a big fan of the car anyway).

I'll admit in a car on a longer journey it is a good time to listen to an audiobook but then I can do that at home. And if you're on a motorway or a route with lots of cars then stopping at will isn't necessarily so practical and increases the time of your journey. Each to their own, but for me a car journey and room full of people is a cause of higher blood pressure and something to be avoided at all costs.

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31st Oct 2013 08:46

The travelling is to be enjoyed

I attend 4 or so lectures a year. Plan an attractive cross country route, travel by motorcycle, cruise past the traffic jams on the way home. Gets out of the office, get to get free advice from the lecturer and travel in a way I love. What's not to like? :-)

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By Flash Gordon
to marks
31st Oct 2013 08:59

Liking it more

paulwakefield1 wrote:

What's not to like? :-)

Stepping outside the front door, travelling, being surrounded by complete strangers in an unknown environment, sitting through a lecture with no form of escape :)

But on the upside, reading about everyone else's travel plans makes me appreciate even more the fact that I can do things my way! It's having the element of choice that makes that choice even better - knowing that I could be inflicting torture upon myself but am deciding to stay warm and cosy in my comfort zone.

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04th Nov 2013 10:45


Sometimes this website really confirms the typical accountant stereotype!  It really does make me smile.

Personally I don't like webcasts as I get bored, do something else at the same time and then usually miss the important bits.  




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