President Of TrainSmart, Inc.
Training methods evolve over time as new technologies emerge. But one format has staying power – face-to-face training. While some argue face to face training’s best days are behind it, the numbers tell a different story. Face-to-face training remains a significant part of the training landscape for several compelling reasons.
Training professionals love debating the ideal formats and mediums for delivering learning content. But when it comes to instructor-led training (ILT), the perennial question seems to be – is it on its way out?
Headlines declaring the imminent death of ILT surface frequently. However, like Mark Twain responding to rumors of his poor health in 1897, reports of ILT’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
The data makes this clear. ILT still accounts for close to 50% of all corporate training hours, according to ATD’s most recent State of the Industry report. While not as dominant as it once was, ILT is far from obsolete.
This post will explore why face-to-face continues to thrive and provide unique value. We’ll look at key benefits of face-to-face training that make it a staple learning format.
Why Face-to-Face Training Remains Relevant
Several factors explain ILT’s staying power and continued importance for many training initiatives:
1. Achieving Complex Learning Objectives
Some skills are best developed through in-person, collaborative learning versus individual online self-study. ILT shines when it comes to:
- Leadership development
- Sales training
- Team building
- Communication skills
- Problem solving
The hands-on, interactive nature of ILT creates a shared experience that bonds groups. Learners feed off each other’s energy and ideas. Multi-sensory elements like role-playing boost retention and application back on the job.
This high-touch approach is ideal for complex behavioral skills requiring practice and feedback. It’s tough for eLearning modules to replicate the depth of this group dynamic.
2. Strengthening Corporate Culture
In-person training signals an investment in employees. Taking workers away from their regular environment to learn together in a dedicated classroom space is a big commitment of company time and resources.
Employees recognize this and appreciate the opportunity to fully detach from work to focus on developing new skills. The shared classroom journey often sparks meaningful connections between colleagues from different departments or locations. This cross-pollination strengthens relationships and reinforces corporate culture.
3. The Power of Being Exceptional
Not that long ago, ILT was the standard for corporate training. Employees expected to routinely attend workshops and seminars. Now with so many options like eLearning and virtual sessions, ILT is no longer the default. It stands out as a novel, exciting change of pace from staring at a computer all day.
This makes ILT feel special. Learners are extra receptive because it’s a unique break from business as usual. They recognize it’s not just another webinar or online module. This heightened engagement drives greater retention and on-the-job usage of new skills.
Key Benefits of Face-to-Face Training
Beyond the core reasons ILT remains relevant, what unique benefits does it offer compared to self-paced online learning?
Fosters Interaction & Collaboration
Lively group discussions and hands-on activities get learners to think deeper and gain new perspectives. The instructor facilitates this dynamic peer-to-peer engagement and collaboration you can’t find in isolated eLearning.
Provides Just-in-Time Feedback
Instructors circulate offering real-time feedback during practice exercises like role plays. This expert coaching fine-tunes skills and builds confidence to apply lessons back on the job.
Adapts to Learner Needs
Instructors continuously assess the class energy and knowledge levels. They quickly adjust pacing or content focus based on what will maximize that group’s development. Custom-tailored on the fly to keep learners engaged and progressing.
Mandating employees take time away from work to participate in ILT demonstrates priority and commitment from leadership. This boosts motivation and follow-through on applying new capabilities.
Enables Multi-Sensory Formats
Varied activities like case studies, games, demonstrations and group problem-solving provide both visual and hands-on learning. This caters to different learning styles and sustains energy.
Key Takeaways on the Value of Face-to-Face
- ILT remains vital for developing collaborative, complex skills like leadership and communication.
- Shared in-person learning experiences reinforce culture and strengthen working relationships.
- The exceptional nature of ILT today grabs learner attention and heightens engagement.
- Benefits like interaction, adaptability and multi-sensory delivery provide unique advantages over self-paced online learning.
- Reports of ILT’s demise are exaggerated. It continues to deliver significant value as part of a blended learning strategy.
Conclusion and Call to Action
Face-to-Face training is far from obsolete. While its dominance has waned, it remains a key component of successful training programs in many organizations.
The unique advantages of in-person, collaborative learning are hard to replicate fully in individual eLearning experiences. Face-to-face training, when applied strategically, delivers powerful benefits.
Training leaders should leverage face-to-face training for initiatives where interaction, hands-on practice and relationship building are critical to skills development. Integrated with online learning, ILT will continue enabling impactful learning for years to come.
What’s been your experience using face-to-face? When have you found it to deliver the greatest value? Share your perspectives in the comments below!