TAE Certificate IV Face-To-Face Or Online Or Distance?

When it comes to choosing how you will do your own TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, the answer can get a bit complex, but it really just comes down to one thing.


One of the most common reasons people choose online or distance options over face to face is because they are more flexible. You can study in your own time, you can fit it around other commitments. In short, you don’t have to sacrifice other things in order to do it.

Well, that is the theory. Of course, the reality is that no matter the choice, there will always be a need to juggle something. We all have only 24 hours in a day, and if those 24 hours are already pretty full, then no matter how you choose to study, something will need to give.

Because of this, some people actually prefer the face to face option. It forces a structure on them, and really removes the stress of making choices. Sure, they still have to manage it all and adjust their workload and family commitments to attend the classes, but at least it is more concrete.

Length and time commitment

Time features again when people start to think about how long it will take to get the course done. There seem to be many training organisations offering 5-day courses, others take 10 days, some are 25 and the online or distance options seem to be anything up to a year or more.

Looking over the descriptions for some courses and we see something peculiar: there is no agreement on the time it will take to do the course.

How can a face to face course take 5 days or 10 days or 25 days and the same course when delivered online take a year or more? Isn’t it meant to be the same course?

Well, yes, it is meant to be. But the reality is that it is probably not.

When you go to a face to face course, the material is presented to you and you are presumed to have understood it by virtue of being in the room. In an online or distance mode, however, you are required to engage more actively with all of the material and demonstrate this to your trainer. It is a significant difference – whether we presume that learning occurs just by being present or by being engaged.

If the presenter is capable, and if the student is willing, then face to face can provide excellent engagement and learning. Of course, if not, then it could be 5 days, or 10 – or 25 – of the old “death by PowerPoint”.


How you will be assessed is another thing to think about.

One of the attractions of some face to face courses is that they can give you the chance to get some assessment done in class. In fact, some face to face courses say that you can do the whole course in class, and I know of at least three training organisations who have the Certificates printed to give to students at the end of the last day.

Something to think about here is how can it be possible to teach you everything and then assess you in everything, with another 20 or so people, all in as little as 5 days?

After all, the assessment requirements of the TAE Certificate IV are quite strict and involve not less than about 5 hours of practical assessment time, not including the assessment of other areas of the course.

Perhaps such courses are for the people who seek the piece of paper more than actually the knowledge and skills that it is meant to represent? Speaking as a manager of a Registered Training Organisation myself, it saddens me when we have a student enrol with us to do a course that they have already graduated in because, in their words “I got the piece of paper, but I didn’t learn anything”.

Blended Delivery

This is where the idea of blended delivery comes in. Get the theory in a face to face setting, and then go away and do the assessments in your own time.

That is a strategy that can work for many people, although it too has some downsides. If the theory is delivered in a way that is not very engaging, then the assessment side can become very difficult since you may not have learned how to do what it is you are being assessed in. Another common experience here is for the student who chose the face to face because they know that they do not have the discipline to work independently; this person goes to the classes but never gets the assessment done and so does not complete the qualification.

And so we find that the main difference between face to face and online/distance delivery is the way that the information is introduced to the student.

In a face to face situation, it is presented and the student may or may not engage with it. It is presented in a time-sensitive manner, and there is likely to be little time to review and re-engage with the material once covered. However, where the presenter is exceptionally talented, the learning within the classroom is second to none.

For the distance or online student, however, it is a more independent journey. It need not be a solo journey, for any training organisation offering this mode of delivery will have various support options available, and there are likely to be many opportunities to ask questions and have conversations in forums, webinars etc. As with face to face, it requires the student to engage in the learning.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter.

It is possible to succeed with any form of delivery, as long as the student actively engages in learning. After all, as is taught in the Certificate IV TAE itself, learning must be an active process if it is going to be a successful one.

For more information about the reality of the Certificate IV TAE, we recommend reading: The 10 Painful Truths about the Cert IV TAE.

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