Is there room for instructor-led training in today’s modern learning environment?
Changes in learner expectations, the decentralization of training content, and the accelerated pace of change have all put pressure on traditional learning. Do we still need classroom learning?
Some might say that 2020 marked the end of instructor-led training (ILT), or at least put a spotlight on some of its biggest challenges. And many in the industry would add that in-person training and learning were already on their way out before the pandemic. Changes in learner expectations, the decentralization of training content, and the accelerated pace of change have all put pressure on traditional learning.
So, the question remains: do we still need classroom learning? Is it time for it to evolve?
Rethinking Learning Strategies
At the onset of the pandemic, learning organizations had to shift overnight. Gone were the days of planning and preparing learning and training content for weeks. Learning had to happen in real-time. Many organizations discovered that repackaging ILT content and simply attempting to deliver it online — via Zoom or elsewhere — didn’t work.
In the old model, classroom learning effectiveness depended on the instructor. Even in the most interactive environments, the instructor still led participants through the experience. Learning content was much the same. Electronic documents and web-based learning allow for some interaction but don’t deliver rich engagement or information at the moment it’s needed. And with many employees at home in a distraction-rich environment or suffering from Zoom fatigue, organizations are realizing they need a new learning model.
Taking the Best of ILT and OnDemand Learning
A positive outcome of effective classroom learning is learners get to experience the subject first-hand. They get to try new skills or activities and experiment in a safe, supportive environment where they get immediate feedback. So, what if learning organizations combine the best parts of experiential ILT and modern on-demand learning approaches?
Learners would get all of the benefits from group activities, exercises, and real-time feedback while leveraging content that’s highly accessible, relevant, and engaging.
Some best practices that are emerging from this new approach include better virtual classroom techniques and more purposeful deployment of blended learning.
In a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) environment, instructors need to remember there are humans in each of the videos on their screens. Techniques like pausing for questions, using the chat window, and scheduling breaks go a long way toward increasing engagement. Using less text and more images in in-session content is a simple yet powerful adjustment instructors can use when presenting content. And leveraging tools that allow for highly interactive content like polls, pop quizzes, breakout rooms, and whiteboarding prevent distractions and boredom with learners. But the key is to compliment that VILT program with engaging, relevant, always-accessible, and OnDemand/self-paced training so that learners can learn outside of the classroom and easily reference operational materials in the moment of need.
Using a combination of virtual classroom training, self-paced content and on-demand resources is a way to give learners the best of both worlds. The key is to break learning up into digestible chunks. Whenever developing content for this blended learning it’s always good to be purposeful. Make sure the content is short and interactive yet serves the purpose of getting learners to the goal.
Techniques like pausing for questions, using the chat window, and scheduling breaks go a long way toward increasing engagement. Using less text and more images in in-session content is a simple yet powerful adjustment instructors can use when presenting content.
Classroom learning will survive but now organizations need to think about it differently. It’s all about the learning experience and empowering learners. Moving from learning as an event to enabling learners to learn in the flow of work not only empowers them but also gives the organization more flexibility to adapt as things change.
Learn more about how to incorporate the best elements of ILT and modern learning for your organization by watching the on-demand webinar: The Post-Pandemic Normal: Will Classroom Learning Survive?