Is the Need for Instructor-Led Training Declining?

As the world is increasingly online and technology continues to grow at an enormous rate, one must wonder if the need for instructor-led training is in decline? This may seem particularly true for the world of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) where the rate of change makes it incredibly difficult to stay current. According to recent research, the need for instructor-led training is not declining, but, certainly changing with instructor-led online and instructor-led remote now adding to the mix. Here at IIT we believe an ideal training solution is achieved when we consider a blend of content delivery options for our trainees. The content delivery options need to look carefully at what the training intervention is trying to achieve in terms of skills and knowledge objectives. When setting up training for many of our clients, we often hear requests for the training to take place completely self-paced online, but is this the most effective solution. Often these requests are based purely on a commercial basis (develop the e-learning package just once and everyone can use it type approach), sometimes it is trying to minimise being away from the work environment, and numerous other reasons. We feel that self-paced online training can function very effectively when mapped carefully to a specific outcome and learning 'chunk'. Ideally self-paced (online and print) should be part of a total training blend. Purely self-paced online/print training lacks the interactive nature of an instructor-led program, and can be stifled by the problematic distraction of ongoing work as often it is not scheduled in timing blocks as normal training sessions are. Under situations where content of online material is regularly changing the costs of creating and maintaining an exceptional and effective e-learning package are also extremely high. With good audio and video content development time can be in the order of 240 hours for each hour of content! And, no, just converting a standard PowerPoint type slide show and running it in a Learning Management System (LMS) environment is generally not a well thought-out online learning solution! Self-paced requires design on the front-end interface, careful scripting or audio, video and text to maintain engagement, (and stop the quick click-through of content), completion markers and so on. Blended programs, with content delivery mechanisms (qualified instructors, self-paced online, remote etc), are what we feel provide the best training solution to achieve real learning outcomes.

The American Society for Training and Development (the world's largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field) recently produced their 2013 annual 'State of the Industry Report'--a review of workplace learning and development trends. This report gives us some great insights. In 2013, live instructor-led forums (consisting of classroom, online, and remote) was approximately 70% of all training programs, with approximately 60% taking place in a live classroom setting. Self-directed training modules, whether online or in print, accounted for only 28% of total training programs. The report also identifies a trend in instructor-led online delivery. In 2012 instructor-led online accounted for 10% of training content available, growing from 5% in 2008. Statistics such as these show that content delivery formats may be changing, we may be getting more technologically savvy, but we still depend on the guidance of the exceptional instructor.