Instructor-Led Training (ILT). Dead or Alive?

Looking back over the past 15 to 20 years, training has evolved dramatically. There has been, and continues to be, various methods of delivery – instructor led training (ILT), self-guided, virtual, elearning, synchronous and asynchronous, formal and informal. There are many factors that have influenced this evolution which include generational changes in the workplace, fluctuations in corporate budgets, changes in staffing levels and staff skills, the infinite availability of information, and a technological growth spurt, to name a few.

As a 18+ year Instructional Designer, it’s intriguing, really, to have seen how organizations flex to meet or beat these factors in an effort to get ahead of the game, better engage workers as they learn, change employee behavior, and achieve organizational goals. As a result of this, I’ve witnessed training departments grow and shrink, depending on how the organization interprets and responds to these factors, and their use of technology change as fast as the technology itself changes.

But when it comes down to it, I have found that it’s the instructor-led training that people respond to best and that provokes true change in performance and behavior – it provides immediate feedback, instantaneous reaction, real-time recognition, and affirmation of learning. It prevents ambiguity of content. It reinforces comprehension. It encourages collaboration and personal connectivity. It creates opportunities for application both on-the-spot and post classroom.

Don’t get me wrong….technology is great! It’s cool, interactive, and allows organizations to train the masses at a much lower cost. It is very good at transferring information to the learner, and there are, indeed, other benefits as well. But does it provide what ILT does?

I equate this to the development of children. I don’t have children; but I do have over 20 nieces and nephews of which I have observed (and sometimes been involved in) my siblings’ raising of them. I’ve witnessed the development and growth of children being a result of personal interface with their parents who provide authentic feedback, share and model values, discipline, and create interpersonal engagement. Children need this – human interaction from their parents. All of which occur in the home (the classroom). So, can children be raised by technology? Not really. Well, some would argue that technology does raise our children today (I say with tongue in cheek).

While I am certainly not comparing adults to children, I am suggesting that the development of humans in general may be more successful when done through human interaction. With regards to the adult learner, the classroom is where learning most effectively occurs – where the transfer of information is coupled with the ability to receive face-to-face feedback, immediate affirmation of comprehension, and validation of behavior change through experiential application.

Many organizations today lean toward a blend of delivery methods; however, there will (and must) always be a component that is instructor led. Why? Because it can’t be done by technology alone.

Long live ILT!

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