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Instructor-Led Training (ILT) vs. eLearning: Which Should I Choose?

When educating and training employees, there are two ways to go about it - instructor-led training (ILT) and eLearning courses. ILT and eLearning options are both widely used, but which is right for you? While ILT is often regarded as a more formal and traditional way to train, eLearning is a web-based counterpart that takes a human trainer out of the mix.

When considering ILT vs. eLearning, there are a few pros and cons to each that can help guide your search. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Instructor-Led Training (ILT)?

What Is Instructor-Led Training (ILT)

​​Before we get into the benefits, let’s go over the instructor-led training definition.

So, what is instructor-led training? Instructor-led training, or ILT, is either in-person or live online classes where an instructor leads the trainees through training. With a lecture-style approach, and often including assignments, the trainer presents materials in a clear, concise way. This is often thought of as one of the more effective training approaches as live instructors can better engage participants on an individual level. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages of instructor-led training, as the benefits can largely depend on the quality of the teacher and the breadth of the material.

To better understand what is ILT, the instructor-led meaning, and when to use instructor-led training, let’s go over the advantages and disadvantages of this training approach.

Benefits of Instructor-Led Training

There are a lot of benefits of instructor-led training. From real-time feedback to more collaborative environments, instructor-led online training, as well as in-person options, can do wonders when training staff. Here’s why.

  • Real-Time Questions and Feedback: One of the biggest advantages of instructor-led training is the opportunity for instructors to answer questions on the spot and respond to feedback in real-time. With a real, live instructor - whether they happen in person or online - they can respond mid-lesson to any questions and concerns, ensuring they address all comments at the moment.
  • Adaptability: Since instructor-led training involves a live training person, the lesson can be adjusted as it goes, pivoting to meet the classroom’s needs and questions for the most relevant, robust lesson.
  • Experiential Benefits: Utilizing interactive techniques for instructor-led training is another great perk as instructors can go from large discussions to breakout rooms, as well as role-playing scenarios to get everyone involved.

Disadvantages of Instructor-Led Training

Developing instructor-led training doesn’t come without its challenges. Disadvantages of instructor-led training include:

  • Cost: There’s a high average cost of instructor-led training in terms of both time and money.
  • Consistency: With different instructors, there may be different teaching styles that can lead to inconsistent training.
  • Time Commitment: Unlike eLearnings, in-person or live virtual training requires a time commitment from trainees, taking time away from work, or requiring coordination with personal schedules.  
  • Initial Skill Level: With ILT, everyone in the class is receiving the same education and starting at the same point, but with people coming in at different skill levels, this can mean the pace of the class will not suit everyone who is training.
  • Less accessible: The class information and materials are not readily available and cannot be accessed on-demand like with eLearning.
  • Instructor Quality: If the instructors are not good at teaching the material or are otherwise inept, the material won’t be learned as well.

What Does eLearning Mean?

What Does eLearning Mean

Now that we know all about IT, what is eLearning? What does learning mean? When considering what eLearning is, we are referring to online training that can take place anytime and anywhere. Since it is accessible online, eLearnings allow for more convenient training that won’t infringe on work or much of personal time as trainees can take the lesson at their own speed and in their own space, so when it comes to eLearning advantages and disadvantages, the ease of taking the course is certainly a big perk.

eLearning courses are relatively customizable and allow training to include everything from videos to activities, multimedia content, and quizzes. And as technology continues to evolve, we are seeing more interactive videos, virtual reality simulations, gamification, augmented reality, and convenient mobile learning.

To better understand this form of training, let’s dive into the details.

Advantages of eLearning

When deciding between ILT and eLearning, there are a lot of pros of eLearning that ILT doesn’t offer. The eLearning advantages include:

  • Customized Pace: With eLearning, trainees can go at their own pace, working through the lesson at a comfortable speed, so they truly understand and digest the information.
  • Convenience: Without having to go into a classroom or show up to a virtual class at a specific time, eLearning options are much more convenient than their ILT counterparts as employees can do them from the comfort of their own homes and on their own time.
  • Saving Time and Money: eLearning training not only offers one pre-created course to all employees, saving money on instructors but additionally avoids employees taking time away from work too.
  • Control: With eLearning, employees have options and control over their learning. They can choose which device they use and which topics they want to review and which they would prefer to skip. 
  • ​​Reinforcement: eLearning allows the lessons to continue. Unlike with ILT, information learned in online modules can later be reinforced through repetition and more content.
  • Consistency: Instructor-led training is entirely dependent on the teacher, and their mood and delivery style can change with every session. With eLearning however, the style and method of delivery are consistent.  
  • Unlimited Access: eLearning allows an unlimited number of participants to take part in the training. With in-person training, small groups may be necessary, but eLearning is accessible on a much larger scale.

eLearning Disadvantages

eLearning is a great training choice, but it does have its downsides. eLearning disadvantages include:

  • Distracting Elements: While eLearnings are created to be engaging, sometimes the various multimedia elements can be distracting to staff or outdated.
  • Ongoing Revisions: Changes to the field and updated systems require that eLearnings be revised semi-frequently, making sure they are still engaging, up-to-date, and accurate.
  • No Adjustment to Feedback or Questions: Since eLearnings focus on the core principles and are pre-made for everyone, there is no ability to answer questions in real-time or adjust the training to feedback or student needs as a live instructor can.

Is Blended Learning the Best Choice for Me?

When debating instructor-led training vs. eLearning, there’s always the option to choose both through blended learning!

What is blended learning? The blended learning definition is a program using both ILT and eLearning that includes both face-to-face training and eLearning methods for more self-paced training that can do a lot more than just one of the options alone. With this blended learning approach, eLearning can share the core principles and topics straightforwardly, while IT can create more collaborative environments to discuss and apply what they learn. So when creating a program, the pros and cons of eLearning, as well as ILT's, should be considered.

No, you don’t need both, but if you’re looking for both a collaborative, discussion-style option as well as a convenient way to share the fundamentals, a blended learning approach is a great route.

When to Use eLearning vs. ILT

When to Use eLearning vs. ILT

The below table will indicate which training to use depending on your priorities.

Instructor-Led Training eLearning
Flexibility for completing training x
Monitor and track progress x
Hands-on practice x
Immediate feedback x x
Easy logistics x
Team/rapport building x
Scalability x
Low cost x

When to Use Instructor-Led Training

If your training needs to accommodate many different learning styles and adjust to the needs of trainees, ILT is the way to go. An in-person training approach allows for quick customization, convenient answers to questions, and real-time feedback. Plus, it allows instructors to build relationships with your staff, engaging with them in a way that can make them more engaged with the topic. This is ideal for smaller groups where an instructor can meet the needs of each person in a session.

When to Use eLearning

The more flexible of the two options, self-paced eLearning training is not only great for initial training but can serve as a wonderful resource for employees to look back on as needed, reminding themselves of the core principles as time goes on. Additionally, this method can include several elements, from blogs to videos, animations, quizzes, and gamification to keep staff engaged.

With the average cost of instructor-led training being quite high, larger group training is best done with eLearning solutions. This method can accommodate large groups, especially as this format allows them to do training at their own pace and on their own time, avoiding the chaos of coordinating with a big group.


No matter which you choose, ILT and eLearning approaches are both great ways to engage employees while training on the must-know knowledge they need to achieve success. Whether you have a smaller group that an in-person instructor can accommodate or a large influx of staff that needs virtual training, both methods can help pass along the message you want to get across. And the two together? A great solution to accommodate all types of learners.

Whether you’re just beginning to dip your toes into providing a course for your staff or are ready to dive headfirst with premium training, our experts at Allegro Media Design are here to help. As a full-service eLearning course development company, we can lead you through all the ins and out of eLearning development to provide the best education to your staff. To get started, contact us today.