Ladies and gentlemen, put away your PowerPoints. Put away your ice breaker activities, your notecards and your training booklets. Any and every type of training that used to be taught by instructors can now be done online through a quiz, video, or lifelike, technologically advanced scenario. The days of instructor-led training are over!
Or are they?
Although web-based training allows for new and different training opportunities, not all training should be done through an online course. We’ve put together a list of four reasons why instructor-led training (ILT) still matters in today’s workplace.
- Technology isn’t the answer for everyone
In an article by trainingmag.com, Mary Beth Alexander of Economical Insurance notes that using technology-heavy training can be a problem in multi-generational industries. In workplaces where employee ages vary significantly, not all employees will know how or even want to use web-based training. Older employees in particular may feel more comfortable in a traditional classroom setting.
- Asking questions is usually more efficient in person
Employees taking web-based training often have questions. However, because courses are taken alone at these learners’ desks, there’s no one to answer those questions.
Learners could email their questions to their supervisors, but asking and answering questions through email can become confusing and require extra clarification. Also, if a learner has a question that occurs early in training, receiving (or not receiving) an answer can change the understanding of the rest of the material. It’s usually easier to be in an environment where learners can receive answers to their questions immediately.
- Web-based training can’t always replicate the collaborative nature of the workplace
Web-based training can do a lot, but it can’t replicate all aspects of the workplace. One characteristic that web-based training struggles to reproduce is collaboration. In the trainingmag.com article, Ken Barber, Jiffy Lube manager of training and development, explains that Jiffy Lube offers instructor-led leadership training. This training allows learners to collaborate through activities like role play and discussions, much as they would collaborate with one another in the workplace.
- Instructors can change the pace if needed
Imagine that you’re leading a brand training meeting. You’re slated to spend thirty minutes teaching about visual brand guidelines and ten minutes discussing the brand writing style. But surprise! The employees you’re training know the visual guidelines much better than you expected. However, they don’t seem familiar with the writing style.
You might decide the best way to meet learners’ needs is to spend more time talking about the writing style and less time talking about visual guidelines. Some web-based training can use pretests to mimic this pace-changing, but still cannot adjust the learning pace with the precision of an instructor.
Of course, just as web-based training isn’t better than instructor-led training, ILT may have gaps that are covered more easily by web-based training. One type of training shouldn’t be automatically favored over the other—the type should be chosen based on learning needs. When developing new training, a good rule of thumb is to ask, “Would this training be more effective in person?” Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is a combination of instructor-led and web-based training.
Just be sure not to dismiss instructor-led training out of hand. You don’t want to toss aside such a useful tool without considering it first!