With the amount of information now available to us online, you can find answers to questions and learn new skills just by clicking a few buttons. So, does learning new skills from internet research replace the need to attend a structured training course?

When searching for information to learn a new skill such as a new computer application, there are many videos and articles available that will show you how to use the functions of the application. 

To attend a structured training course, you must block out a chunk of time to attend, and in the case of face-to-face training, you will have to physically make your way to the venue. Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to Do-It-Yourself? Why WOULD you attend a face to face training course?

As a trainer for around 25 years in Microsoft Office, 18 years in MYOB, and many years using Xero, I have seen (and experienced!) the results when people do not gain quality foundation level skills when using computer applications. Some examples include; performing a task the long way, not being aware of a better method, not understanding the power of basic Excel formulas, matching transactions from the bank account incorrectly. These few examples result in additional time to perform and/or correct mistakes. This costs the business money! Mistakes like these frequently arise when the person is self-taught.

Foundation level skills are best obtained from a structured course instructed by an expert in the field. Courses include practical exercises, and generally, knowledge and skills checks. 

When obtaining skills and knowledge for a single function of an application, once foundation skills have been obtained, videos and articles can be a quick and easy method of learning a new skill or upgrading their level of expertise.

When learning the best method of performing tasks right from the start, you are automatically much more productive, accurate, and efficient with what you are doing.

Still on the fence? Let’s look at the pros and cons of both methods:

Do It Yourself

CONS – If learning from no prior knowledge

  You will need to find uninterrupted time to

  • Research articles and videos
  • Read and watch videos
  • Unstructured practice using the material gathered 
  • The cost of your time could be extensive due to having to research and performing unstructured practical exercises
  • Generally lacking knowledge and skill checks
  • It may be difficult to block out uninterruptable time
  • Will most likely have areas of missed knowledge due to no structure
  • Generally, cannot ask questions directly or obtain direct answers. At this level, there could be many questions.

PROS – If learning only a function and already have base level skills and knowledge

  • Easier to block out time as it a smaller chunk of learning to research and apply
  • Can apply new skills easily and practically to existing skills
  • Possible to ask a question and obtain a helpful answer as questions are generally more specific

Attending a Training Course with an Expert


  • Block out the time, go to the venue
  • The tangible cost to you – Course fees, getting to the venue, your time


  • Learn directly from an expert in the field
  • Receive a hard copy training manual that can be used as a reference manual post course
  • Work through course, exercises, and skills check with the class and instructor
  • Obtain face-to-face answers to questions in the class
  • Hear questions from other attendees at the course that may be helpful to you
  • Generally, a higher level of confidence and competence is achieved due to learning with other people in the room

If learning from no knowledge

    • Completely uninterrupted and focused attention to learning
    • Foundation level skills obtained in a structured format enabling base level knowledge and skills
    • Questions relating to the course are answered during the course

If learning only a function and already have base level skills and knowledge

    • Can apply new skills easily and practically to existing skills
    • Can obtain answers to complex questions
    • Learn from the experience of others in the class

Essentially, if you are learning a brand-new skill from the level of no knowledge at all, it is always best to block out the time, invest in the course fee and gain quality skills. This will enable the learning of additional functions easily, with greater confidence, and it allows you to be more productive faster than Doing It Yourself!

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Any questions or comments, please do not hesitate in contacting us at hello@miebs.com.au or 0410 819 783.