These days it seems possible to do nearly anything online that once required in-person interaction. From dating and shopping to communicating and even going to college, the Internet offers a world of options for people who wish to accomplish tasks from the comfort of their own home or office.

Even the massage and bodywork world, based wholly on the healthy touch a professional practitioner can provide to his or her clients, is not immune to the computerized trend. In this arena, massage therapists and bodyworkers now have the option of attending classes online.

This is true in the realm of continuing education, which is required for the majority of touch practitioners who are living in areas where the industry is regulated, in order to keep their credentials current.

However, even though online classes offer a lot of convenience in terms of no commute, typically less cost and a much more flexible schedule, it’s important to know when and if it might be a better investment to take a continuing education course the old-fashioned way—in person.

One big reason to enroll in continuing education that’s offered in a brick-and-mortar building, rather than online, is if your learning style leans more toward hands-on instruction. In this case, you may benefit more from being in a room with fellow peers and a teacher. In addition, if you don’t have the tools or technical abilities required to make full use of an online education, you should certainly consider in-person classes.

The type of continuing education you’re looking to take should be another major factor in deciding whether to enroll in an online or in-person class. For example, if you want to take a course in ethics or marketing, the class material might lend itself well to an Internet education.

However, if you hope to acquire a whole new touch technique, or refresh your existing skills, you may want to consider an in-person education. In a traditional classroom, you can see the way the teacher instructs each touch, from every angle. You can even feel it and try it out on your classmates.

Although most online classes these days offer video instruction and audio lectures, along with written class materials, there’s something to be said for seeing a hands-on modality demonstrated in real life, right before your eyes.

Therefore, if you’re looking to take on a whole new technique, it may be well advised to take that course in a traditional classroom. Once you’ve nailed the basics, then you might decide to take more instruction in the technique via online classes.

As you consider the various ways in which you could choose to earn your credits in continuing education, don’t automatically defer to the online route. Of course, many factors will contribute to the decision you make—cost of the class, location, commuting time and distance, scheduling and other such variables. Simply stay open-minded to the possibility that a traditional classroom setting can be the best bet sometimes, depending on the course topic and the individual student.

—Brandi Schlossberg