Why Personal, Instructor-Led Training Will Never Completely Go Away

The ways we learn have changed dramatically since I entered the workforce 20 plus years ago as a member of Generation X.

Back in 1991, when I graduated from college, computer-based training (CBT) was the new, hot trend! The next big step was that learning moved online.

For the digital natives, known as Millenials, and Generation Z coming behind them, they will never know life without technology embedded – including in the ways they learn. They don’t know what life (or learning) “offline” is like.

How we learn today

As with any industry, the learning and capability space is full of trends and buzz words. Conferences and workshops abound to educate professionals on topics such as:

  • Gamification;
  • Mobile Learning;
  • Social Learning;
  • Virtual Classrooms.

Each of those topics has a time, place and value proposition to meet business needs. However, as old-fashioned as it may sound, the need for instructor-based training held in person will never go away completely.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Some topics can’t be taught any other way

From an instructional design perspective, this means experiential learning.

You simply cannot replicate the feeling in a person’s gut that they get when they are in the middle of an exercise with another person face to face. That feeling is what sticks with them LONG after the training ends, and why they actually remember what they learned in the session, so they can apply it on the job.

For example, when you need to build skills in providing effective feedback and performance coaching, it requires practice with another human being who has real-time reactions. Talking to a computer screen does not have the same effect as telling another person they need to change their behavior on the job.

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2. No other method sends the message “we want to invest in you”

Depending upon the target audience for your training, this could be a covert signal or an overt one. Either way, it will come through loudly and clearly when they are face to face with others from across the company in a classroom setting learning together.

Choose the audiences wisely for such investments (just like content selection is essential – see No. 1 above). It may take a while to reach the entire audience, so ensure you have a communication plan in place to address all of your stakeholders along the way.

3. The shared experience builds (or reinforces) culture

No other method of training or capability building has the same networking, bonding and message reinforcement effect as instructor-led/instructor-facilitated training. Whether your organization is growing through acquisition, or downsizing due to cost-cutting, the in person training sessions have a unifying impact which participants take back to the job at their respective offices/plants/workplaces.

Subsequently when participants are on conference calls together, or trade emails on work-related topics, they have a higher degree of trust with one another. The trust enables them to move at the speed of trust to be more effective.

As your Capability or Talent Management team builds plans and programs for 2015 and beyond, do not forget or minimize the importance of the investment in face-to-face interactions enabled by instructor-led training. Strategically select where to build it into your plans.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at PeopleResults a human capital consultancy focusing on change, organization, talent and communications/new media. She has been working as a business consultant and change leader for 20 years, and previously led the Change Leadership Center of Excellence for PepsiCo.

Contact her at bwinkler@people-results.com.

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