Is ILT Going the Way of the Rotary Phone? The short answer is no. Instructor-led training (ILT) is here to stay but less and less it will be the training strategy of choice. We will continue to employ face-to-face classroom experiences for smaller audiences where the interplay among the students and with the instructor is critical to the success of the learning experience. However, ILT is now one of a smorgasbord of learning strategies available to L&D organizations. Ten years ago learning delivery options included ILT, web-based training (WBT) and on-the-job training (OJT). Audience size and location were the primary drivers determining which strategy was selected -- large distributed audiences got WBT, smaller local audiences get ILT or OJT, etc. Now, due to new technologies and innovative ideas in the design of learning methods, there is a diner-like menu of training methods available for learning organizations, including: MOOCs, mobile learning, learning bursts, ILT, OJT, Webinars, podcasts, inside-the-firewalls social media collaboration platforms, Google-like EPSS and more. Further complicating the selection of delivery methods is the new layer of criteria organizations now have to consider when determining which methods are most appropriate, including: learning preferences for Millennials v Gen Xers v Gen Yers, corporate culture, regulatory environment (HIPAA), globalization requirements (localization for culture and language), technology infrastructure, audience size, audience turnover and more.
What are the implications of having more learning delivery options available to us and the plethora of organizational drivers impacting which strategies should be employed by an organization?
- Learning strategists need to be well versed on the latest training strategies. Learning leaders who are not staying current with new developments in learning technologies and training methods will miss out on the opportunity to recommend delivery strategies that may be more cost effective and efficacious for the learner. To ensure that learning strategists are current, they need to invest in professional development, participate in national and local professional organizations (e.g., ASTD) and attend conferences where they can talk to vendors and learn from other organizations that may be early adopters of these technologies.
- Needs analysis becomes more critical and expansive. The role of the learning strategist becomes more important to ensure that a deeper and wider audience and organizational analysis is conducted before arriving at the final learning strategy recommendation. No longer will knowing the audience size, audience location and the tasks on which training may be required be enough. The standard set of questions that have traditionally been asked during a needs analysis will need to be expanded to gather information about the organization’s technology landscape, language and cultural implications when dealing with a global audience, and divergent learning preferences for a workforce that may be comprised of learners from three or four different generations.
- L&D organizations need to develop the internal capability and expertise to design, develop and deliver these various learning solutions. Instructional designers will need to not only be able to design and develop ILT (instructor and participant guides), but they may also need to be able to design Webinars that require instructions in the learning materials for both a facilitator and producer or mLearning courses that are will be designed for use on the job through tablet technologies. Instructors with 15 years of classroom training experience may need to reskill themselves to become fluent using all the tools within Webinar platforms and the techniques for how to engage learners in a virtual teaching environment, i.e., instructors will no longer be able to see who might be dozing off in an in-person training class and call on learner to reengage them; instead, they will have to learn to use various online tools within the platform to keep the audience focused on the class instead of their email.
- Ability to sell the solution to top management. The biggest challenge for a learning organization may be two-fold. First, having the skills and experience to create a business case for a sales organization to invest in tablets for an entire salesforce and create mLearning for consultative selling and EPSS for product knowledge. Second, getting a seat at the table with the budget owners to present the business case for new learning solutions that will positively impact the performance of employees and organization’s bottom line.
The good news is ILT is not going away. The good news is also that learning professionals have the opportunity to help their organizations navigate an increasingly more complex landscape of technologies, methods and choices that are available to their organizations.