by Jennie Ruby
Last week we focused on the benefits of classroom training. This week, I planned to focus on eLearning or asynchronous learning alone. However, as I reviewed the responses from readers over the past two weeks, I found that far more readers favored a combination of classroom or instructor-led methods and eLearning.
Some additional thoughts on the benefits of classroom training came in this week. One reader tells us that surveys show that classroom training is preferred by learners:
"As a global organization, we have encountered the e-Learning vs. classroom battle as well....results from internal surveys have shown that the preferred method of learning is via classroom training." Christine Grauer
Another reader gives us reasons students like having an instructor with them:
"I was a college lecturer for over 11 years teaching computer graphics. I then set-up my own computer training company 20 years ago. I have found in my experience that delegates prefer to have a live person in front of them, either demonstrating or going through exercises with them, so that at any point they have a problem, I am there to help.
They can ask questions, I can show the group or individual why something didn't work for them etc. The number of times I have had delegates have an A HA moment never ceases to amaze me." Neil W Mason
Mason goes on to tells us that "eLearning and videos are fine as a backup or as an aid after the initial training." Whether used before or after live training, e-Learning is seen as providing variety to learners that are diverse in their needs and learning styles:
"Our company uses both instructor-led webinars and a self-paced video library as key components in the learning process. Some people seem to learn better one way or the other based on their personal learning style --for example [they may be] a take charge self-paced kind of person versus someone who needs the commitment of a specific class time and ability to ask questions. My personal feeling is that a combination is the two is best." Phil Eschtruth Harrison
"I've been a trainer for many years, in areas ranging from competitive equestrian sport to computer software skills. If there is one thing that I have learned, it's that learners range wildly in temperament, and one size will never fit all. The best form of training - be it online or in the classroom (or even in the arena!) - is that which allows for the most flexibility in pace, depth and interaction." Lia Scott
Another Skills & Drills reader describes how a combined system can work:
"In fact [students] can take the courses at their own pace, at their office, or from home. No need for [them] to travel, no need for an instructor to travel. Just need an instructor available to answer questions, and this can be done remotely. Students can call in to a help desk or the instructor can set up a time to meet with the students via conference call at a set day and time and answer any questions the students may have." One of our readers
"Our department developed system training using Captivate. We developed both demos and simulations. The instructor is in the classroom [and] provides a lecture, then the students complete a Captivate Demo. [After that,] the students complete a Captivate simulation. So in this situation ... there can be both e-Learning and instructor-led training being done in the classroom." One of our readers
Similarly, the combination of television and webinar could be a model for combining computer-based training and instructor interaction:
"You look at Oprah the last few nights with her Lifeclass on TV (could be a 15 minute CBT!) followed by a live webinar on Facebook -- [which] answers questions, many [viewers send in] as they are watching her TV program. I think this is the wave of the future. ... I think there are very few activities that can only be done in a classroom." Denise Farrar
Other new training uses newer technologies:
"Adults down the road are going to be more attuned and inclined to learn via tablets. It's more fun than trooping off to a classroom and passively listening to an instructor without any control. The student has control over the online training experience and, eventually, there will be a computerized instructor that will answer questions posed by students similar in the way the new Siri answers questions posed by IPhone 4S users." John Schuetze
The cost of classroom training may not always be able to compete with the economies of scale achieved by e-Learning:
"For many companies, classroom training is becoming a luxury, one that not everyone can afford. There are also constraints: it's not cost effective to do classes with just a few people ... sometimes travel costs are barriers to customers/clients, time zones come into [conflict], there are also licensing issues with some types of classroom training. So, for us, the next best thing is interactive software training. We offer task-based tutorials on how to learn our software. Some of our software packages have these tutorials built in....
"Also, many learners today are more comfortable learning via online or e-Learning and don't want to sit through longer classes when they can go at their own pace through asynchronous e-Learning. They see it as more efficient for them. If we can make the e-Learning interactive enough to give them that hands-on experience, then the training can be very effective. Over the past several years, we've added more and more e-Learning tutorials and less classroom training." Tracey Stokely
And eLearning may be especially appropriate for certain kinds of learning, such as computer applications:
"Most clients prefer the classroom environment for content related to machinery operations and maintenance. On the flip side, most clients are happy to go the eLearning route for content related to software or computer systems." Sanju
For now, it looks like the combination of training methods is the way many companies are going. But one additional reason some companies prefer classroom training is the need for assessment of learning.
A classroom trainer can often tell whether the students have reached the learning objectives--at least during the class. Can we provide this kind of assurance through some combination of eLearning and a Learning Management System? Does clicking through a Captivate module make for a fully-trained operator? My question this week is: Are you doing assessments of skills, knowledge, and/or application after training? Do online quizzes fill this bill? Does sitting through a class mean success? We would love to hear from you about testing, assessment, or skills ratings you are doing or seeing your clients do.
About the Author: Jennie Ruby is a veteran IconLogic trainer and author with titles such as "Editing with Word 2003 and Acrobat 7" and "Editing with MS Word 2007" to her credit. She is a publishing professional with more than 20 years of experience in writing, editing and desktop publishing. Jennie is currently teaching two classes for IconLogic: Writing Training Documents and eLearning Scripts and Writing Effective eLearning Voiceover Scripts.