What’s Better for Your Employees – Digital Training or Instructor-Led Training

You must be aware of this scenario where a new employee joins your organization and spends all the working hours for the next couple of weeks in the training room.

True, this is an important phase to make the employee feel valued and upskill them to perform the task at hand efficiently. But think about it. Two weeks of training equates to around 90 hours!

Surely you could have let the employee utilize some hours for actual productive work. Not saying training isn’t important. But when you can train them on the job, why not explore that option? You’ve got a new employee on board, let them learn while they work. Adopt a modern training approach such as digital training to make the employee feel like s/he has joined a company that’s focused on achieving results and at the same time values employees’ learning needs. It lets them learn on-the-go. Isn’t this more productive than spending 90 hours solely on training?

The traditional training method has become static, with less engagement value. Even schools and universities are opting for digital learning methods in classrooms. And mind you, your employees are most probably from this school of digital learners. So, going back to traditional ways of teaching might seem like a bummer, especially as they are used to the fast-paced online content consumption.

Here are the 5 Best Practices in Employee Onboarding

Let’s draw a comparison to see which teaching style is better suited for the modern employee- digital training or the traditional instructor-led training.

Pros and Cons of Digital Training

Pros

  1. Saves Time and Money : As we stated in the example above, those 90 hours could have been utilized in a productive manner rather than simply making the employee sit in the training room and listen to a lecture. Delivering training on digital devices is far more cost effective than maintaining training room facilities and hiring instructors. Digital training allows employees to learn at a time suitable to them. Different people have different learning capabilities. And online learning caters to this need by delivering content on mobile devices. Modern learning techniques usually puts the learners’ needs on priority, making it as easy and comfortable for the learner to grasp the concepts effectively.
  2. Small Chunks of Information for Better Retention: Earlier when L&D teams developed training materials for online consumption, they basically had desktop computers in mind. And hence, created elaborate PowerPoint slides and documents. Sure, it was easier to have a single training deck accessible from different workstations in the office. And so, reading a lengthy amount of text was also not an issue. But as training went mobile, the content also required modification. And that is why the long winding course materials were broken down into small modules, which can be perused even while on the move. These small modules focus on a specific topic and give relevant information that is required for the task at hand. It’s easier for the employees to retain this information. Here are 5 Ways to Create Effective Interactive Training Content
  3. Flexible Learning: Whether the employee is travelling, relaxing, or on a break, one thing is for sure, they’ll have their smartphones with them at all times. And digital training makes use of this opportunity by providing flexible learning options. The digital course materials can either be accessed via internet or can be saved offline for later use. Either way, it offers flexibility by allowing the employees to access the courses at any given time. Also, the content can be localized for employees in different countries. Digital training materials are also easy to look back at for a quick reference, eliminating the need to go through handwritten notes or printed manuals. Therefore, employees would only need a few minutes to refresh their knowledge and deliver an error-free output. Here’s more about BYOD and its Impact on Enterprise Content Delivery
  4. Measure ROI Through Analytics: Training delivery platforms are embedded with analytics feature which gives a detailed insight into the performance of the trainee and the effectiveness of the training program. Managers can track the assessment scores, and engagement level with the content. This helps them identify gaps in training and work upon bridging those gaps by either redesigning the training module or mentoring the trainee. Post training, this feature can also be used for tracking employee metrics and goals. Thus, managers can measure the return on investment with the help of actionable data during and after the training process. Here are Employee Training Metrics: 7 Ways HR Experts Use Them
  5. LMS Helps in Managing the Training Content: Organizations these days use an LMS to manage content delivery. An LMS helps in keeping all the content at one central location and allows the admin to make edits whenever necessary. But the drawback here is that an LMS cannot be accessed on mobile devices. In such a scenario, enterprises can integrate their existing learning management systems with applications that enable it to be accessed on mobile devices. Using a training delivery platform which enables smooth integration with existing LMS will be beneficial for employees as they can have access to updated content at all times.

Cons

  1.  Isolated Learning: Digital learning is self-paced, meaning employees learn whenever they want to. But they do not have anyone to explain concepts in real-time and have an actual interaction with. This lack of interpersonal dynamics sometimes leads to distraction. They may even have doubts that remain unclarified.
  2. Cannot Teach Interpersonal Skills: While technical and process knowledge can be acquired through online learning, interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills cannot be learnt without fellow colleagues. Employees need to be in a group to ideate and resolve issues as a team, which is not possible in digital learning.
  3. Cannot Guarantee Complete Focus: The devices on which training is delivered are not solely used for reading. The training materials can be accessed on smartphones, laptops, tablets, which also happen to have multiple functions. So, it’s easy for a learner to get distracted after a while and start browsing through other stuff. You cannot really guarantee that because the courseware is open in one tab, that they are actually reading it.
  4. Lack of Inputs from an Instructor: While digital learning connects the learner to all the necessary resources, it fails to provide inputs from the trainer. Employees will receive instant results for the assessments submitted online, but a personal feedback from the trainer helps to understand how their performance is being perceived, and how to rectify their errors so as to not repeat the mistake.
  5. No Fixed Routine: Unlike an instructor-led training, where the training takes place at a specific time and place, eLearning has no such boundaries. This often leads to postponing of task. With no fixed learning routine, employees feel that they can learn this later. But ‘later’ might never come. Eventually it becomes a part of their to-do list where they’ll just skim through the materials to complete the course, without fully comprehending the concepts.

Pros and Cons of Instructor-Led Training

Pros

  1.  Social Interaction: In spite of all the various pros that digital learning offers, one still feels connected with instructor -led training. It’s because of the opportunity to connect with real humans face-to face. We need social interaction. And in a corporate world where one is interacting with people on a daily basis, an instructor-led training helps them all to come together and learn something new. An instructor gives a personal touch to the whole learning process.
  2. Instant Clarification of Doubts: If an employee has any doubts or queries regarding anything, s/he can directly approach the trainer. There is no need for the employee to wait for an opportunity to clarify their doubts; they can do so while the training session is going on or immediate after the session.
  3. Live Debates and Discussions: Interactions are what makes a classroom or in this case a training room lively. When people discuss ideas and thoughts, it gives rise to more ideas, and that’s why enterprises encourage brainstorming sessions. In a classroom setting, employees can have discussions and debates over a particular topic. This enhances employee engagement and also helps them fully understand a concept and look around for loopholes that might need plugging. Here’s how to Measure Employee Engagement and 6 Ways HR Experts Do It
  4. Real-time Feedback: Instructors can provide real-time feedback to employees. Unlike an online learning space, where a pop-up tells the employee how they have fared in the test, a real trainer can say much more than that and in fact make them understand why they were correct or wrong. Real time feedback is more effective as employees can immediately get clarity on the matter.

Cons

  1.  Retention Rates Suffer: As the instructor carries on with topic after topic, the employees might feel disengaged and by the end of the lecture might most probably forget what they learned. It sometimes becomes difficult to keep up with the instructor and fully understand the topic being discussed. This doesn’t help in retaining concepts, which will later result in the need for refresher training.
  2. ILT’s Are Costly: Travelling, instructor fees, utility maintenance, training materials- there are a lot of factors to consider while going for an instructor led training. You can eliminate all these expenses by opting for digital training. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, you are pulling your employees off work, cutting down their production hours.
  3. Cannot Be Accessed on Demand: Instructor-led training is only accessible for a short duration, i.e. during the training hours and in the training room. Outside this window, the employee has no access to the training, save for the written notes and documents. If employees feel like brushing up their knowledge, they can’t as there’s no recorded video or application which will give them access to all that was discussed in the training room.
  4. Miss Out on Explanations in Case of Absence from Class: Another disadvantage of instructor-led training is that if an employee fails to attend the training session, s/he will miss out on that day’s training. Then they’ll have to catch up with the lessons by asking their colleagues, because the trainer won’t repeat an entire session for just one person. In online training, employees do not have to worry about missing out on anything, as they have all the learning resources with them at all times.

Conclusion:

In today’s competitive and fast paced corporate environment, it is essential for every employee to do their best and be knowledgeable in their field of work. Delivering digital training allows them to focus on their work and simultaneously learn about new concepts. More importantly, you need to choose the right content delivery platform do deliver training in an engaging format.

Although digital learning has distinct advantages over an old-school approach, there are some organizations that are skeptical about going fully digital. For such enterprises, blended learning approach might suit well, as it encompasses all the positive attributes of both learning styles- digital as well as instructor-led.

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