Mobile learning, virtual and e-Learning and Apps are all continuing to grow across corporate learning, but contrary to popular belief, classroom training is not dead and it still has a place in modern day workplaces. In fact, almost half (47 per cent) of training hours conducted in 2015 were delivered in an instructor led classroom only setting.
What we are seeing at ILX is a continued growth in blended learning. Organisations are demanding high quality training support by experienced trainers, but they are being delivered in a more flexible manner.
The growth in Apps is one example of this shift. Interestingly, Speexx’s 4th annual research found that the majority (64 per cent) of companies said that “blended learning” will continue to be the primary approach for corporate learning.
These findings clearly signal that companies are evolving training to meet their specific requirements and that greater staff mobility has perhaps accelerated the need for a more blended and flexible approach.
Benefits of classroom training
Classroom learning continues to be an important part of a blended approach. It provides in-person support and human interaction with other learners. Good trainers who combine experience in implementing what’s being taught with teaching skills can offer highly effective practical coaching that e-Learning simply cannot replicate.
To ensure that classroom training is truly effective, organisations need to broaden the focus from the training programme itself and devise a schedule that includes preparatory work, ongoing reinforcement, continual embedding of learning and assessment of training effectiveness.
There should be a continual feedback loop to the original business objective and ROI embedded in the process. This method provides an effective solution to the inherent problems associated with the ‘spray and pray’ approach, where training is administered across the board and organisations hope that it has been effective.
The successful training cycle can be summed up in the following five steps:
1. Determine training needs: A training needs analysis should be conducted at the start of the process to help identify issues in the workplace. Some of the workforce may only need an overview of the new process or initiatives, others may need only to understand the terminology associated with a specific training programme, and some individuals will need a complete in-depth knowledge of the terminology together with the associated practical skills or certification.
2. Understand the business objectives and expected ROI: What is the purpose of the training? Does it align with the overall corporate strategy? What is the framework to measure how much the training investment actually impacts business operations and results? Who are the stakeholders and how can we get them involved?
3. Understand the organisation or project team: Key to training programme success is an understanding of the learning style and culture of the organisation. How mature is the organisation in implementing learning? What internal resource is available to support learners? What barriers may prevent learning? Is funding available?
4. Provide the right training support: The right training programme must take into consideration the results of the analysis detailed above and link directly to business objectives. Blended learning will support targeted training sessions, different learning styles, knowledge delivery and skills attainment.
5. Reinforce and assess: Ongoing reinforcement is the key to success as without it, knowledge and skills gained from the most beautifully crafted training course could still be lost. By creating a feedback loop to the original business objective and ROI, the effectiveness of learning can continually be assessed and adjusted accordingly. This ensures that the training schedule whichever methods are employed and always delivers success.
The debate about training must move beyond a simple analysis of e-Learning versus classroom training to accommodate blended learning; an approach that can capture the best elements of all types of learning. Learning is fundamentally both social and experiential.
The context of the learning – all of the elements that comprise the experience around the content – are just as important as the content itself. To strike the right balance for any organisation, a blended learning strategy can be employed to ensure ongoing training success.