Allegro Media DesignBlog

Training Crossroads: ILT or eLearning – What's Your Strategy?

You have a lot of decisions to make every day. Ok, we don’t know you. But were we right?

Whether you’re a training manager for a large organization, the sole HR representative for a small business, or a skilled and experienced instructional designer, chances are, you have at least a handful of decisions to make and you don’t have time to sit on the fence. Let us help you out on one of those: deciding between self-guided eLearning or instructor-led training.

For as long as humans (and thus, learning) has existed, people have taught one another. From how to catch a fish with a spear to how to write complex web design code, teaching has always been ubiquitous. But nowadays, there are more ways to learn than just copying another human. Two of the big ways that companies, educators, and other institutions foster learning is through eLearning and instructor-led training.

First… What are they?

eLearning is essentially the delivery of teaching or training through electronic channels. More often than not, eLearning is self-paced and self-administered via an LMS.

Instructor-led training is… you guessed it, taught by a human instructor. While this can (and more and more recently does) happen virtually, the key distinction is the requirement of a teacher or instructor.

But how do I choose?

Ok, let’s get down to what you came here for. Getting off the fence! Imagine the training or education you need to deliver. Consider the audience, your resources, and the timeframe you are working within. It may be helpful to outline these things on paper before making your decision.

All set? Here are our handy-dandy suggestions for when to choose eLearning and when to choose instructor-led training.

Training Crossroads: ILT or eLearning – When to choose eLearning

Choose eLearning when…

…you need a less expensive product.

In a traditional classroom, there are a plethora of resources that require you to open you pockets. Instructors need to be paid a salary. Event spaces need to be bought or rented. Travel needs reimbursed. Paper flip boards get used up. Markers mysteriously go missing… You see what we’re getting at.

Hosting face-to-face meetings gets expensive, and it gets expensive fast. Not to mention that these costs are continuous! You have to continue to pay an instructor for every session.

And sure, eLearning isn’t free. BUT, you pay one up front cost. You pay developers and instructional designers to write the material and turn it into beautiful, interactive courses. But then you’re done! Research has shown (Strother 2002) that overall, eLearning is the less expensive product.

…you need to train people in a variety of locations.

Remember those travel costs we mentioned? Well, plane ticket prices certainly aren’t going down… Not to mention, travel is less eco-friendly and is exceptionally time consuming.

Say you’re an international organization and you purchase a new time-keeping software. Flying an HR representative to all of your locations to train employees on how to use it simply isn’t efficient. In this case, eLearning is the obvious choice.

…you need to scale your training with the business.

Sure, instructor-led training works in small groups. But what happens when your company grows? Suddenly you have more people to train and likely less time than ever to do so. eLearning can be scaled to work for organizations big and small.

…you still want an interactive learner experience.

Just because eLearning is fully digital and doesn’t have a live human on the screen, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still create an engaging and interactive experience. It absolutely does! If you’ve ever played a video game, you know that digital experiences can be engaging and exciting, just like real world ones.

From buttons to sliders to videos to virtual tours, eLearning content is often every bit as interactive (or more!) as in-person training sessions. But this only happens when seasoned eLearning Developers with knowledge of learning theory and user experience get their hands on the training. Lucky for you, those are the only kinds of designers we hire at Allegro.

Training Crossroads: ILT or eLearning – When to choose ILT

Choose instructor-led training when…

…you need a hands-on learning experience.

Suppose you need to train employees on knife skills for a professional kitchen. Certainly, eLearning can provide a foundation of knowledge to learners about how to hold a knife, what cuts should look like, and how to cut safely. But if you want the learning to include practice of these skills, a face-to-face session led by an instructor would be best.

In this hands-on training, instructors can give learners feedback in real time, help them make adjustments, and keep them on task.

…you need highly individualized training.

eLearning is great for teaching generalized content that many people need to know. But not all content is one size fits all. In cases where the content needs to be tailored to multiple different groups or individuals, instructor-led training provides more flexibility to do so.

…you are teaching social skills.

eLearning has been proven more effective in learning hard skills like processes and procedures, corporate software (Coppola & Myre, 2002), and clinical skills (Dimeff et al. 2015). But for soft skills like interacting with clients or conducting interviews, instructor-led training often provides better results. This is because instructor-led training affords face-to-face conversation and practice, an important component of building soft skills.

Need Help Deciding?

Still on the fence? Here at Allegro, we are experts in assessing content and making the decision between learning modalities. Please get in touch if indecisiveness is standing in your way!