Which is best? E-Learning or Instructor-led Learning…

The Badger received training during his career and participated in developing company level training strategy and policy. On the latter, there were many debates over the years on the merits, effectiveness, and benefits of e-learning for the employer and also for the employee. These aired strong views but never really culminated in clear conclusions. So, is it possible to answer the question posed in the title above? No.

So, why’s the Badger posed the question? Ostensibly because the Badger’s feels that traditional Instructor-led Training (ILT), which educates with more group face to face interaction, is becoming rarer – at least in the IT industry. E-learning seems to have become a convenient ‘first choice’ in many enterprises, but possibly at the expense of truly embedding deep learning in recipients. By the way, if you want to read a short and balanced item comparing e-learning versus ILT then just click here.

Training strategy and policy is usually informed by a needs analysis supporting strategic business objectives. In the Badger’s experience these analyses are often highly constrained by ever-tighter budgets. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s always sensible to live within one’s means! With ever-tighter budgets and perpetually advancing technology it’s hardly surprising that enterprises have strongly embraced e-Learning for delivering training to the workforce. But does e-Learning provide diluted learning for its recipients compared with ILT? Specialist academics, no doubt, have the answer. So, having posed the question in the title which side of the fence does the Badger land?

That’s easy – Instructor-led Training (ILT). Why? Firstly, because the training that had the greatest and most long-lasting impact on the Badger was always where an instructor and a group of people were in the same room. The ability to interact with each other, share experiences, collectively understand, ask questions, and listen to others whilst watching their body language was very powerful in embedding key learning points. Secondly, the Badger’s experience of e-learning in recent years was coloured by dynamics that instructed recipients to comply. Recipients tended, therefore, just to concentrate on passing the online test at the end of the session. Retention of the learning thereafter  tended to be shallow.

So, there you have the Badger’s answer to the question! Of course, the best training is ‘on the job’ – learning from others in your line of business, project or team just doing your normal day to day job. By the way, the Badger isn’t anti e-Learning, just more pro as much face to face, group-centred learning as possible otherwise it could become extinct! One final thought though. Should e-Learning in enterprises be overhauled? After all, why reinvent the wheel when training videos on YouTube already provide lots of the same subject matter content…

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