From elementary school to college, the bulk of education is instructor-led. While there are a variety of styles within that teaching model, the reality is most of our learning experiences have been structured around a teacher at the front of a room demonstrating, presenting, or lecturing to students. It’s no wonder that instructor-led styles dominate corporate training.
But think back to those times where a teacher was at the center of your learning experience. Likely, the bulk of your learning came from supporting experiences like collaborative activities, personal practice, assessments, or real-world experience.
Presumably, we can step away from instructor-led training (ILT) while promoting learning. But, how can companies take advantage of an instructor’s strengths when moving that content into eLearning formats?
Why use ILT?
Of course, instructor-led training hasn’t been abandoned, but why is that method of teaching still popular when digital learning tools are all the rage? It’s not just comfort and familiarity; ILT has distinct advantages. Understanding what makes a successful instructor-led training can help companies recognize when to continue using ILT and how to enrich web-based training.
In 2018’s Training Industry Report by Training Magazine, studies found that 35.5% of training hours were delivered by a traditional instructor in a classroom setting—remaining fairly steady compared to the 2016 findings above. In 2018 it was also found that instructor-led training was being used 90-100% of the time by 9% of the organizations studied. That means about 10% of companies use ILTs exclusively and factoring in virtual classrooms with a remote instructor ILT-only numbers up to 10%. So, it’s clear that many companies still prefer this method of learning.
ILT for Finance
AllenComm has developed instructor-led training for financial advisors that had both ILT and eLearning components. Training was facilitated by managers within the company. Why was ILT chosen for training these new employees over an e-learning platform?
Luckily, these instructors had specific, on-the-ground experience. They not only understood the role they were onboarding but how it fits into the context of other professional roles, the company’s goals, and the industry at large. When an employee has face-to-face training with an instructor, they can get immediate feedback on sensitive situations. In-person training allows for novel questions and answers in the moment of need in a way that online training has difficulty replicating. Moreover, ILT allows for the instructor to personalize their presentation and focus on certain subjects to accommodate individual groups.
However, this training program also included a large-systems training initiative. Financial advisors had to quickly become competent with a new bank teller system. In this case, eLearning was best suited – creating a virtual environment to explore the new banking system would be much more effective (and scalable) than leading individuals through this process.
Preserving the Benefits of ILT in Digital Learning
A study by the Brandon Hall Group evaluated the use vs. effectiveness of learning delivery mechanisms. Eighteen delivery mechanisms averaged 3 out of 5 on effectiveness, but their use averaged only 1.13 out of 5. So, eLearning tools were found to be used less often than traditional, in-person learning methods despite a small difference in their effectiveness.
Now, let’s revisit the example of instructor-led training for financial advisors and focus on three unique advantages its instructor brought to the training:
Specific, on-the-ground Experience
Subject matter experts don’t have to be physically present to impart their experience. People have been learning from industry leaders for years through documentaries, books, and speeches like TED Talks. Consider how a video interview might give specific, experience-based advice. If you’re transitioning an instructor-led training to digital training, chances are the instructor has materials that would be useful: like anecdotes to illustrate more difficult concepts. Consult with your previous instructors so you can translate their experiences into web-based formats.
Another resource that instructors can assist with is to create a “frequently asked questions” document. While web-based training can’t always accommodate novel questions, compiling the questions most likely to come up can suffice. Depending on the training technology you use, you can even include mechanisms to capture unanswered questions.
By using an open exploration model in your eLearning course design, learners are able to spend as much time as they need diving into specific topics within a course. Back-end data tracking and analytics also enables personalized content for learners based on their performance.
In short, though instructor-led training still has its value, it’s possible to preserve some unique attributes of instructor-led training when transitioning content into web-based formats. It just requires strategic thinking and occasionally reconsidering what a learning experience looks like.
Webinar: ILT to eLearning Conversion
If that possibility that interests you, Dr. Kate Worlton-Pulham’s upcoming webinar, ILT to eLearning: A Conversion, Evolution, or Revolution, will discuss best practices around converting ILT content. Dr. Wolrton-Pulham is a performance consultant for AllenComm with a background in traditional, instructor-led teaching. She brings a unique perspective on distilling ILT content for WBT formats to exceed learning expectations and preserve ILT simulations in web-based training.
Register now for the opportunity to attend.