Instructor-led training (ILT) is the traditional method of delivering new knowledge to a group of learners in a specific space. Its appearance can be traced back hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago when the first educational attempts in the history of mankind were made. In ancient Greece, philosopher-scholars such as Plato and Aristotle taught their students through a method known as “dialectic,” which involved engaging in dialogues and debates in a specific space, such as a school or a public square.
The instructors would pose questions and challenge their students to think critically and articulate their ideas, while providing guidance and feedback along the way. This form of instructor-led training was instrumental in shaping the intellectual and philosophical traditions of Western civilization, and its influence can still be felt today. Since then, and despite the changes the world has experienced, ILT remains the fundamental way of teaching and training people.
This article is a practical guide that presents the method’s most important elements while exploring its future potential, especially in the corporate environment.
Modern businesses and organizations allocate a substantial proportion of resources to train their employees and help them upgrade their skills. This can be done via many techniques, one of them being ILT.
What is instructor-led training? #
Instructor-led training refers to the traditional teaching approach that comes with an in-person trainer and a group of learners in a classroom setting. This method can be delivered in a conventional lecture-style classroom setting, an interactive workshop that permits the in-situ practice of the skill, or virtually with the support of video conferencing tools.
The trainer delivers the lesson using various features (like whiteboards, presentations, handouts, and experiments) and encourages real-time feedback from learners in the form of questions, discussions, role plays, and other activities to achieve better learning outcomes.
Although the benefits (and cons) of ILT will be discussed later in this article, it is important to mention that this training style connects learners with trainers better and fosters dialogue, interaction, high engagement, and, as a result, increases knowledge transfer. That being said, the expertise of the instructor and their ability to present the information and involve learners play a determinative role in content retention.
ILT vs eLearning #
Online learning, eLearning, or distance education refer to a virtual training method that presents the content in either a synchronous or asynchronous method.
Although eLearning can be suitable for some courses, it is not always a substitute for traditional classroom training. While the development of eLearning is much more expensive than the development of classroom training solutions, the implementation costs are significantly lower than ILT. For classroom training,implementation costs include paying the trainer, renting a training room, printing hard copies of all course materials. Alternatively, expenses associated with the implementation of eLearning are typically limited to the costs of web servers and technical support.
Here are some scenarios where instructor-led training might be more effective than e-learning:
- Hands-on training: If the learning involves hands-on skills or techniques, such as welding, carpentry, or surgery, instructor-led training would be more effective as it provides learners with immediate feedback, guidance, and correction.
- Interactive activities: If the learning involves interactive activities, such as role-playing, group discussions, or team-building exercises, instructor-led training would be more effective as it allows learners to collaborate, communicate, and learn from each other in real-time.
- Complex or technical subjects: If the learning involves complex or technical subjects, such as quantum physics or data analysis, instructor-led training would be more effective as it allows learners to ask questions, clarify concepts, and receive personalized explanations from subject-matter experts.
- Compliance or safety training: If the learning involves compliance or safety training, such as sexual harassment prevention or fire safety, instructor-led training would be more effective as it allows learners to ask questions, discuss scenarios, and receive feedback from instructors who are knowledgeable and experienced in the field.
- Soft skills development: If the learning involves soft skills development, such as leadership, communication, or conflict resolution, instructor-led training would be more effective as it allows learners to practice and receive feedback on their interpersonal skills in a safe and supportive environment.
What makes ILT work? #
ILT’s main benefit is the connection that is created between the trainer and the trainee, which maximizes the learning outcome. In a corporate environment, a Learning Management System (LMS) can optimize the ILT process even more since it has a way to organize, schedule, and report on each learning session.
Including engaging activities throughout the lesson can significantly improve the outcomes of an ILT session. Such activities include alternating between lectures, discussions, and hands-on practice.
Some examples that help you achieve effective learning transfer include the use of immersive technologies (e.g., virtual reality and augmented reality), supplying workbooks, offering open polling and response submissions, including group discussions and debates, as well as problem-solving in small groups or pairs. Role-playing and assessments can also improve retention from instructor-led training.
Pros and cons of instructor-led training #
As with any other training method, ILT offers both pros and cons. First, let’s take a look at the benefits.
ILT personalizes learning #
ITL allows instructors to facilitate the training session while tailoring their approach and cultivating deeper connections with their learners. This also gives the trainer the freedom to adapt his approach accordingly if the group is not responding adequately or has problems absorbing the material as expected.
ILT fosters real-time interaction and feedback #
Regardless of whether the classroom is virtual or in person, ITL permits real-time interaction between the instructor and their trainees as well as among the trainees themselves too. Time and space are given for questions, discussion, and feedback to secure comprehension and enhance the learning outcome.
ILT allows demonstration/experimentation #
When technical or complex matters are explained, demonstration or practical instruction may be needed. Sometimes, conducting experiments can offer huge benefits to make the lesson more absorbable for the learners.
ILT promotes networking and employee loyalty #
Attending classroom-based training comes with some social perks too. It allows the attendees to connect socially, strengthen their company bonds, and exchange ideas and opinions. What’s more, learners often perceive this training method as having a higher value that can enhance the learning outcome and their long-term loyalty to their company.
ILT permits better training management and evaluation #
Since ILT sessions take place with a fixed-cost and agreed-upon investment of time, HR managers can better evaluate its ROI and take advantage of the method’s efficiency to deliver more hours for trainees per hour of instructor time.
But, just like any other method, ILT has some cons too.
ILT costs #
Because ILT learning events require a real-life instructor, they tend to be more expensive in comparison to asynchronous, on-demand experiences. So when you need to make a decision about the delivery method for your course, you need to consider the learners, content, and purpose of your course as well as the available budget.
Here are some common expenses and costs associated with instructor-led training:
- Instructor’s fee: The fee for the instructor or trainer who delivers the training is typically the most significant cost associated with instructor-led training. The fee can vary depending on the instructor’s qualifications, experience, and location.
- Venue rental: If the training is conducted in a physical space, such as a classroom or a conference room, the cost of renting the venue is another significant expense. The cost can vary depending on the location, size, and amenities of the venue.
- Materials and supplies: Depending on the nature of the training, materials and supplies, such as handouts, workbooks, equipment, and software, may need to be purchased or provided for the learners. These costs can add up, especially for larger groups or longer training programs.
- Travel and accommodation: If the instructor or the learners need to travel to attend the training, the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals can also be significant. This is especially true for international or long-distance travel.
- Administrative and logistical expenses: Other expenses associated with instructor-led training may include administrative and logistical expenses, such as registration fees, marketing and advertising, catering, and audiovisual equipment rental.
- Opportunity cost: Lastly, it’s worth noting that there is also an opportunity cost associated with instructor-led training. Learners and instructors may need to take time away from their regular duties or work schedules to attend or deliver the training, which can impact productivity and revenue.
ILT provides a one-size-fits-all training #
Regardless of some opportunities to personalize the training, if the class is large, it can be hard to ensure that all learners equally benefit from the training. This is when blended learning can be the solution to overcome this ITL disadvantage. The ultimate goal of blended learning is to combine several media in one course. In most cases, blended learning is a combination of face-to-face delivery with eLearning activities. For example, learners might have to complete the lecture part of a particular course via eLearning, followed by the instructor-led training for practice and hands-on activities.
ILT doesn’t provide instant access #
Unlike eLearning, ILT training does not provide instant access to the course. This means that learners will have to wait until the designated start time to begin the course, whereas eLearning is often available on demand and provides instant access to information.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what ILT has to offer, let’s see who can benefit the most from this training solution.
Is instructor-led training right for you? #
Whether delivered in a virtual or real classroom, ILT forms the ideal solution for organizations that need to transfer knowledge on very complex topics that demand face-to-face engagement and can, at the same time, allocate time and budget for learners to attend training sessions.
This style of training also works best when dealing with departmental-based training when close collaboration is needed. In such cases, the use of scenarios and the execution of group projects are more successful when done in the classroom.
In addition, a company should go for ILT sessions if its staff consists mostly of employees of older age because this age group is more accustomed to a traditional educational approach compared to millennials or Gen Z who are more digitally literate.
The future of instructor-led training (ILT)—virtual instructor-led training #
Technology’s advancement and other phenomena, like the COVID-19 pandemic, have substantially changed the way our world functions. Various impacts have already been seen in the way people work and are being trained across fields and disciplines.
The future of instructor-led training is quite promising if blended with advanced technological features. So, combining ILT with online training to form virtual instructor-led training (VILT) levels up the procedure and offers more learning opportunities and advantages that neither of each style could deliver alone.
From ILT to VILT #
VILT digitalizes conventional ILT by offering live instructor training online using video conferencing tools. This type of training can connect trainers with trainees in various places (as proximity is no longer a prerequisite) and make the whole process more of a win-win scenario for all involved parties.
Although some may argue that VILT can lack the liveness of a real classroom and result in a boring webinar, things don’t have to be this way. If planned properly and with a learner-centered mindset, the whole atmosphere and engagement can be very close to that of a real classroom.
For a successful transition to VILT, one must design frequent two-sided interaction opportunities, break the learning content up into bite-sized modules that require engagement, and ensure the instructor can handle the virtual platform, deliver the lesson, and engage the learners all at the same time.
Final thoughts #
Instructor-led training is one of the fundamental educational methods of transferring knowledge. Regardless of the giant steps technology has made over the years, the traditional trainer-classroom paradigm will not be easily replaced. What can happen though, is to blend it with eLearning and digital features to keep up with the changes in the workplace and the demands of our times.
Instructor-led training remains a valuable and effective way to teach and train learners, even in today’s digital age. While e-learning and virtual classrooms have their benefits, instructor-led training offers unique advantages that cannot be replicated by technology alone.
From hands-on learning to interactive activities, complex subjects to compliance and safety training, and soft skills development, instructor-led training provides learners with personalized attention, immediate feedback, and real-time interaction with subject-matter experts.
However, instructor-led training also comes with expenses and costs, and its effectiveness depends on the quality of the instructors, venues, materials, and logistics. Therefore, organizations and individuals should carefully evaluate their needs and goals before deciding on the most appropriate training delivery method.
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