The Debate: Should All Hair Education Stay Online?
Should all hair education stay online? As we ring in the new year, two experts discuss whether all courses should be digital moving forward.
Should all hair education stay online?
Yes, says Sheree Thompson, founder of Siren Bridal Styling Online Education
“2020 has certainly been a year like no other, one that none of us had planned or ever imagined. The Coronavirus pandemic brought our industry to a halt for the first time in its history and, being the creatives that we are, it was up to us to get even more creative than ever before and use technology to continue to progress. This is when I fully realised the importance of online education.
As an educator myself I couldn’t sit around in lockdown. I wanted to continue education and show my fellow stylists and industry peers that we must use the time in lockdown to progress and excel our skills as much as possible. I created my own online platform for bridal styling and turned to social platforms, such as Instagram, to communicate it to others within the industry.
At first online education was different. We were out of our comfort zones and it was certainly a learning curve. However, after a few weeks we all found our feet and stylists, not just in the UK but across the world were, for the first time, using online education constantly.
Going digital allowed stylists to educate in their own time, at their own pace and revisit a section they weren’t sure about. It also created a community feel – we were, and are, part of something new and have the chance to interact with people wider than our usual circles.
Online education is new, fresh and it works. It is uncertain as to whether live workshop demonstrations will return in the near future due to restrictions, so in my view online education is the way forward. It allows the stylist to learn at their own pace, in their own time and in their own comfort zone – it’s the new way.”
No, says Richard Darby, managing director and head of education at Mark Leeson
“There is a need to offer virtual education, especially in this current situation. When it is theory-based it can be advantageous, as students can work not only at their own pace, but at a time that suits them. However, I feel there is nothing that compares to the intimacy and the camaraderie of a classroom from both a teaching and student perspective.
Hairdressing is a social profession and interacting with others during practical-based training is essential for boosting everyone’s skills. As students and educators, we miss out on social interaction. More importantly both students and educators miss out on the instantaneous feedback and the opportunity to ask the questions that face-to-face education lends. Of course, you can have an online chat, but this doesn’t compare to the benefits of a classroom experience.
I am aware that some people feel the need to retain their anonymity and find online education not only more convenient, but easier to manage. It also reduces costs for the salon owner in terms of travel and hotel bills. However, students will invariably miss out on vital learning curves – independent travel, broadening their horizons and interacting with others.
I think it’s easy to become distracted during online education and the tutor can be a little robotic, as not only have they got to deliver the course, but concentrate on ensuring the camera angles are correct too. Hair cutting is personal and based around touch so for me and my team, being able to see ‘up close and personal’ is what our students want. Guiding students more precisely is much more rewarding for both parties.”