Do classroom home inspection courses harm consumers?

by Nick Gromicko
Founder, International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
 
 

Online written and video courses are perfect for educating and improving the competence of home inspectors and providing options for their primary and Continuing Education.  Advantages over classroom courses include: 

Cost of Course:  Online courses are inexpensive or free.  Dollar for dollar, an inspector can complete many online courses for the same cost as a single classroom course.  The more education an inspector has, the better he/she can serve his/her clients.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by exhausting the Continuing Education budgets of inspectors faster than online courses.

Cost of Travel:  There are no travel or hotel costs associated with online courses.  In contrast, relevant classroom courses, which are few and far between, cause the inspector to incur out-of-pocket travel and accommodation costs.  Again, the more education an inspector has, the better he/she can serve his/her clients.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by exhausting the Continuing Education budgets of inspectors faster than online courses.
 
Cost of Lost Work:  An inspector need not take off work to complete online courses.  Online courses can be taken at night, on the weekends, or whenever an inspector doesn’t have any inspections scheduled.  In contrast, classroom courses are often offered only during the day and require the inspector to suffer lost business income.  Again, the more education an inspector has, the better he/she can serve his/her clients.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by exhausting the Continuing Education budgets of inspectors faster than online courses.
 

Cost Advantage to Consumers: Online inspection courses are simply more affordable to inspectors. With reduced course costs come an increase in the number of courses an inspector can afford to complete each year, with a corresponding rise in the level of inspector competence. Increasing the level of inspector competence is a direct benefit to consumers.  Lower-cost education also gives inspectors the opportunity to pass on savings to consumers.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by delaying the inspector's professional progress.

Accessibility:  Online courses are available all the time, anytime, from anywhere.  In contrast, classroom courses for the inspection industry are few and far between.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by limiting access to education for inspectors.

Collaboration in Development:  Online course development often includes collaboration among many experts and inspectors from around the world.  For example, it is not unusual for InterNACHI’s online courses to be the product of dozens of contributors.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by often lacking in international collaborative development.

Expert Instruction:  Online course developers can hire many experts to contribute to each course.  Often, in online video courses, the instruction is presented by one or more renowned experts.  In contrast, classroom instructors, though perhaps competent to teach a particular subject, are rarely international experts.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by denying renowned expertise instruction to inspectors and limiting them to a local pool of talent.

Number of Instructors:  Online courses often utilize more than one instructor, with more than one area of expertise.  In contrast, most classroom courses are taught by only one instructor.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by limiting the number of expert instructors per course.

Accuracy:  Online courses are reviewed for accuracy before being released.  Online courses are also subjected to industry-wide peer review forever.  In contrast, classroom instruction is rarely reviewed by anyone.   The author of this article personally knows of a physics professor who had been teaching the use of an incorrect formula for over 30 years before the error was caught.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by failing to correct misinformation given to inspectors in a timely fashion.

Current Course Material:  Downloadable, printable online course material is reviewed, edited and improved over time.  In contrast, classroom texts are less frequently updated.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being less able to provide inspectors with current course material.

Pictures and Video:  Online courses contain pictures and on-location video that permit the inspector to virtually accompany the instructors on inspections of many actual structures and components.  In contrast, classroom courses can’t take inspectors into crawlspaces or on roofs.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by failing to provide inspectors with virtual, real-situation training.

Pace:  Online courses move at each inspector’s desired pace.  Online courses can be stopped and re-started.  Online video can be paused.  In contrast, classroom courses move at only the instructor’s speed.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to teach at each inspector’s own pace.
 
Wasted Time:  Online courses are edited to cut out set-up time, off-topic discussions, bathroom breaks, lunchtime, etc.  In contrast, classroom courses contain much wasted time.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by diluting the training time with things that don't increase inspector competence.
 

Schedule:  Online courses are available when each inspector wants to take them.  In contrast, classroom courses have inflexible schedules that require inspectors to attend when it is inconvenient, when the inspector is ill, when the inspector is tired, etc.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by forcing inspectors to study and learn at a preset schedule.

Quizzes and Exams:  Online courses contain numerous short quizzes that assure the inspector has learned each section before moving on to the next.  These quizzes are graded instantly, and often alert the inspector to incorrect answers immediately.  Some even have built-in intelligence, which recognizes each inspector’s unique areas of weakness, and reviews those areas until the inspector grasps them.  Classroom courses typically have fewer quizzes, without instant grading.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being less diligent about assuring that each inspector has learned and understands every concept being taught.

Review:  Online courses permit inspectors to go back and review areas of weakness.  For example,  InterNACHI’s online video courses permit the inspector to rewind and replay them over and over.  In contrast, classroom material is typically covered only once.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to allow inspectors go back and repeat material to strengthen his/her particular areas of weakness.

Repeat:  Online courses permit inspectors to take the course over again.   In contrast, classroom courses are typically taken only once.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being all but impossible for inspectors to re-take over and over.

Instant Grading:  Online courses contain quizzes and final exams that are graded instantly.  Instant grading permits the inspector to be alerted to areas of weakness while still engaged in the course.  In contrast, classroom courses typically don’t grade instantly.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to instantly grade each quiz and exam.

Consistent Grading:  Online courses and quizzes are graded consistently over time and around the world.  In contrast, classroom courses grade easier or harder, depending on where and when the inspector takes each course.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to grade inspectors consistently.
 

Advanced Courses:  It is financially feasible to offer advanced courses online.  An online course need be developed only once, yet can run for years.  In contrast, classroom courses usually must be of an introductory nature to attract enough students to pay for an instructor each time it is offered.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to financially sustain advanced course offerings.

Specialty Courses:  It is financially feasible to offer specialty courses online.  An online course need be developed only once, yet can run for years.  In contrast, classroom courses usually must have a common enough appeal of subject matter in order to attract enough students to pay for an instructor each time it is offered.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being unable to financially sustain specialty course offerings.

Choice:  Online courses offer inspectors a wide variety of choices in both level and subject matter.  In contrast, classroom courses are fewer and farther between.  Compared to online courses, classroom courses harm consumers by being less likely to offer the training inspectors need, when and where they need it.

Communication:  Online courses often provide an Internet forum for all current students, graduates, instructors, experts, developers and interested parties from around the world to interact with each other and discuss the course.  These course-specific forums provide continuing education to inspectors long after completing the course.  Classroom courses harm consumers by rarely providing such widespread, post-course interaction.
 

In summary, online courses allow inspectors to study and learn at little or no cost, without having to travel or lose business, when and where they want, with well-developed, accurate courses taught by experts, using updated course material, pictures and video, at their own pace and schedule, with the ability to review and repeat, and with the assurance they'll end up with a thorough understanding of the chosen topic.

Home inspection licensing board members or government bureaucrats who steer inspectors away from online course offerings by rejecting their Continuing Education approval based solely on their method of Internet delivery create a disincentive to inspector skill-set improvement, which ultimately harms consumers.  And because much of an inspection report includes safety issues, the harm may also be physical, instead of merely financial.  In some cases, the harm may result in the actual death of either the inspector or the consumer.
 
 
U.S. Department of Education study showing online courses are better than classroom courses.
Visit InterNACHI University
 
 
InterNACHI commends the following fine organizations for their consumer protection policies toward online education of home inspectors:  www.nachi.org/education.htm  
 

Below are the names, pictures, addresses and phone numbers of home inspection licensing board members and government bureaucrats who summarily withhold Continuing Education approval of online courses and, thus, are responsible for the financial and physical harm, and perhaps even death, of their fellow citizens:

As of today, no InterNACHI online course approvals have ever been rejected by anyone:  www.nachi.org/approved.htm
 
 
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