Why distance learning is important for the feed industry

The lead article in the May/June 2013 issue of Feed Management is about distance learning, an area that I believe is both important and relevant to the feed industry as it moves into the 21st century.

We’re busy. Everyone is busy. Now more than ever time is precious. As a whole we give lip-service to the need for continuing education, but the reality is that there is rarely time for it. This is where distance learning can make a real difference. Classes can be “taken” at night after regular work hours, on weekends and on breaks. All that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection. The Internet connection doesn’t even have to be all that fast, making distance learning an option even to those in remote rural locations.

Some say that classes taken via distance learning are easier than those taught in a more traditional format. I disagree. Although I obtained the majority of my higher education at “brick and mortar” institutions, I recently had the opportunity to take a class via distance learning, and it was hard. Not only did I have to make an extra effort to set aside the time for the class, I had to be extraordinarily disciplined.

The couch and television have an extremely strong pull at nights and on the weekends (so does the urge to check email and Facebook). Staying focused on the task at hand was a real challenge.

Apparently I am not the only person to experience this phenomenon. Last year the daughter of a close friend of mine decided to take a full semester’s load of classes online at her state university. The result? Sadly, she failed every single one. The content wasn’t the problem; the problem was that it was simply too easy to not turn on the computer and “go to class.” Unfortunately there’s no substitute for motivation.

However, for those with a measure of discipline and a “want to” attitude, distance learning can be an economical way to receive training without completely disrupting a work environment, just like Chad Muse demonstrates in this issue’s lead article.

What’s more, distance learning helps everyone—from management to staff—stay both current and relevant regarding what is happening in the industry. To choose not to take advantage of it is, in my opinion, foolish.

I like business trainer P.L. Mitchell’s observation:  “Those who fail to continue learning are perfectly equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

I don’t ever want to be one of those people. Do you?