In-Person Learning: Not Just for Students

In-person learning has been a hot topic in the last few years.

Prior to 2020, in-person learning was the norm for colleges, universities, k-12 schools, and professional learning across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic forced countless learning programs to pivot to virtual learning practically overnight, launching a national discussion about the benefits and downsides to both methods of learning. When you’re considering professional development opportunities in the coming year, make sure to take into account whether the conference, course, or talk is online or in-person, and think about the pros and cons of each method! Read on to learn more about why we think in-person professional development takes the top spot.



The number one benefit of in-person professional development or continuing education is the opportunity to network. When you attend a conference or a PD course, you’re joining a group of people who are interested in the same subject as you are and likely work in the same field. Building connections in person is rewarding and can help give you a social outlet. In-person networking also gives you a unique chance to learn from your peers and colleagues, embracing their knowledge and expertise to help you grow in your role.


Take a break from your work environment

Quote: Changing up your space can help you get a new perspective, spark new ideas, and come back to campus feeling inspired and re-energized. While watching a webinar from your desk might feel a little easier than traveling to a conference center, there is something to be said for learning in a new space. Changing up your space can help you get a new perspective on your work, spark new ideas, and come back to your campus feeling inspired, re-energized and excited to be there. Taking in a webinar in your office makes it part of your daily routine—it might feel like just another meeting you need to participate in before getting to your work. Attending a conference or participating in professional development in a new place is a break from your routine, a reminder that you’re doing something new and engaging to enhance your daily work.


Focus – really focus

In-person learning helps participants fully immerse themselves in the task in front of them. Your office is full of distractions like email, colleagues, meetings, and more, making it more difficult to concentrate completely on a webinar streaming from your laptop. When attending in-person keynotes and breakout sessions, it’s harder to sneak a peek at your emails or get distracted by a new task—instead, participants are able to focus fully on the learning right in front of them.


Learn from your peers

Another vital aspect of in-person learning is the presence of colleagues and peers. Research has shown that learning can be more effective when it’s a shared experience. Being together with peers in the same industry means you can discuss best practices, work together on tackling new challenges, and get a different perspective on problems you might have been too close to.


Final thoughts

In short, in-person learning is not just for students. Though there are benefits and downsides to both in-person learning and virtual or hybrid experiences, there are some things that you just can’t get from a virtual conference. Changing up your work environment, immersing yourself in professional development, and networking with and learning from your peers are unique to in-person learning. If you’re thinking about professional development that can help you tackle the next HigherEd challenges, check out our on-demand content from PeopleConnect Live 2022, which was held in San Diego this year. Join us in-person in 2023!