Do you like to take classes in a physical classroom or virtually on a computer? This is a significant decision since Lean Six Sigma training and certification can be achieved either way. Let’s examine the plus and minus of each format.

Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification: Online or in Person?

Which format is best for you depends on a number of factors:

  • Schedule – If you are working full time and seeking to get trained and certified outside your organization, your availability and schedule become important.
  • Instructor-led versus self-paced – Both classroom and many online programs utilize a live instructor model. A self-paced program gives you maximum flexibility as to when you do your online training
  • Learning style – Do you learn best in a classroom with the interaction between the instructor and fellow students or do you like the solitude and reduced pressure of a self-paced structure?
  • Location – Do you live close to a publicly available program, or would you have to spend considerable time commuting?
  • Travel – Does your work require you to travel and frequently be on the road?

Let’s examine each of these factors in more detail.


  • If you have the freedom to participate during the day or weekends then a classroom model may be appropriate.
  • If you have a full-time day job and don’t want to spend your weekends doing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training, then an online program might be best for you.
  • If your program is self-paced, then you can do your training at your convenience and on your schedule.

Instructor-led vs self-paced

  • Classroom training will be instructor-led. This provides you the opportunity to freely interact with the instructor as well as other students.
  • Online training can also be instructor-led. Interaction will be more limited and often requires the use of a Chat function rather than just raising your hand or calling out.
  • Instructor-led training can allow you to wander off script now and then. Given that classroom training is usually held over the course of a day there is flexibility to explore tangents and share experiences with the rest of the class. Online training is often done in smaller chunks of time so there is less flexibility to go off script.
  • Instructor-led online as well as classroom training requires you to attend and participate in the class discussions.
  • An online self-paced format allows you to do your training when you want. The pressure to attend at a certain time is eliminated. The major downside is the lack of any timely interaction with an instructor or other classmates. Getting answers to questions or concerns is not timely since there is no one to answer them while you are online and doing the course module.

Learning style

  • Do you learn best when there is active discussion and interaction with the instructor and other students? This can happen in a classroom format and an online instructor-led model.
  • Do you like to ask questions in class for clarification? This is easy in a classroom environment. It will be more limited in an online instructor-led course and practically non- existent in a self-paced setting.
  • Do you learn and pick up concepts quickly or do you need to think and mull over material before you get it? Most classroom and instructor-led online courses are often described as drinking from a firehose because of the practical limitations of time. Depending on your ability to quickly grasp the content a classroom or instructor-led online format may become frustrating for you. A self-paced format will give you the opportunity to learn at a pace comfortable for you.
  • Do you learn better by hearing, reading or experiential activities? The classroom environment allows for frequent in-class individual and group activities to apply the concepts being taught. This is greatly degraded with the online approach.


  • If you live conveniently close to the training provider, either consultant or an educational institution, then classroom training may be a good choice.
  • If commuting to training is inconvenient or if you travel extensively for your job then an online program might be a better choice. Assuming you have adequate access to the internet, you can do your online training almost anywhere in the world. If self-paced, you can do it any time of day or night.
  • Theoretically, you could do self-paced training at the Martini Bar on a cruise ship at 1am while cruising in the Caribbean.

The table below summarizes your options and presents some recommendations:


Does online training allow for as much active interaction as classroom training?

No. Classroom training allows for greater interaction with the instructor and fellow participants. Instructor-led online classes allow for some interaction, usually between you and the instructor using a Chat function. Self-paced training allows no active interaction because there is nobody to interact with.

I frequently travel out of town. Which type of training will work best for me?

Online training versus classroom should work best for you. If your schedule out of town is flexible and matches with an instructor-led course, then sign up for that. If you never know where you will be or when you will be available, then a self-paced approach is best.

Do employers look at programs requiring a real project more favorably than those using a simulated project or case study for certification?

While a simulation or case study can have many of the same elements as a real work project, they do not let you experience the realities of what actually happens in a work environment. Dealing with uncertain conditions, resistance to change, team member frailties and politics will happen when you do a project at work. Most simulations and case studies present a less realistic representation of reality.

Putting it All Together

The debate of whether you should take your training in a classroom setting or online has raged for decades with advocates on both sides claiming their favorite is best. Rather than present just another opinion, this article has provided you with some specific criteria which you can use to make the decision of which approach is best for you.

If your schedule is flexible and you are close to a provider offering a classroom format, then this might be the option to pursue. The personal interactions and flexibility provided by this format are advantageous for those you learn best under the watchful eye of an instructor and multiple experiential classroom activities.

If your schedule is inflexible or you live distant from a provider offering a classroom program, then taking your training online is an alternative option. Depending on your own preference and schedule, you should consider an instructor-led program. If you have little predictability of your schedule or prefer to learn on your own, then a self-paced approach will suffice.

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