Technical Training – Face to face or on line?

I’m in Seattle for a couple of weeks to attend some technical training events.  Next week, I’m on a course to learn all of the ins and outs of the next release of Exchange 12 so that I can redeliver the sessions in the UK in a few months time.  This week however, I’m in downtown Seattle on an internal training course, a TechEd or IT Forum type event for internal staff.  It’s in Seattle so that as many as possible of the Executives can deliver  sessions and get direct feedback from the field and sales staff.  Anyone who couldn’t attend this set of training can receive the sessions streamed live via Live Meeting, so they can get the benefits of hearing the sessions without having to physically attend.  So this has started me thinking about whether face to face training is better in some ways than remote or online training.  I mean I wouldn’t have had to travel here, I could have received the training from the comfort of my desk or my office at home, and I’d have had the chance to hear all about the relevant technology that’s round the corner, and our roadmap plans for the next “wave” of products.  I could get all of the “hands on” experience I need from the virtual lab environment online. 

Well why should I actually attend then?  I believe that for me, these technical training seminars give me much more than just technical content.  I have the opportunity to meet and network with my peers, talk face to face with the presenters, or the product team, and spend time with other subject matter experts.  But if your budget is tight and your management can’t let you spend the time away from your work, would you like to receive this type of content using an online mechanism – a Virtual TechEd or IT Forum streamed to your desk.  Would it work?  Mail me  and let me know your thoughts.