instructor-led training
Training & Learning

Instructor-Led Training Can Make Learning a Chore—Here's How to Improve it

Old-school instructor-led training (ILT) isn't the best teaching method for 21st-century learners. Whether it's in a classroom or on a screen, no one wants to sit for hours listening to an endless lecture. This kind of traditional learning isn't exciting; it's passive, which gets old, fast.

However, despite boring them to tears (or, more likely, to the point of checking their email instead of paying attention), many of your learners want ILT options—over 50% of the 600 learners we surveyed (you can get the full survey below) said they would benefit from live in-person or virtual learning opportunities. There are, after all, benefits to having learners and instructors in the same room, but if your only approach to ILT is a slideshow lecture, that enthusiasm won't last long.

learner survey cta

Instructor-led training can still be part of your training program; it’s just not effective to build an entire learning strategy around it. The good news is, by taking advantage of more modern and effective learning methods to round out your in-person training, you can maximize learner engagement and outcomes.

Incorporate active learning into ILT

Active learning is a process where learners participate in or interact with the learning process. Adding active elements to your in-person courses forces learners to sit up, pay attention, and use their brains—while sitting passively in a chair for long periods of time can cause them to lose interest and zone out.

Incorporating active learning strategies into ILT can also have a positive effect on learners’ performance. Information is more likely to stick when you can interact with it, as opposed to when someone just hands it to you—like a conversation versus a lecture or a hands-on demonstration versus a video demo. Compared with traditional lectures, Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that involving students in interactive exercises like feedback and discussions resulted in better performance.

To incorporate active learning into your in-person training, include interactive elements like hands-on exercises, two-way conversations, and other activities that let employees directly interact with the coursework. For example, give learners the chance to discuss a piece of data in more detail, solve a hypothetical problem, or toss out a real-world example and use role-playing to encourage discussion.

For our money, the best kind of interactivity is also social: collaborative workshops and breakouts, for example. This is easy in person but harder to do online—that's why we designed 360Learning to include features that facilitate this kind of interactive, social learning even for remote teams, like forums and collaborative authoring tools.

Instructor-led training online example
An example of how to build a social, collaborative experience into your online courses.

Tap into blended learning by adding asynchronous training options

It’s possible to fix some of the shortcomings of ILT by switching out some of your in-person, synchronous training with asynchronous learning options. This more modern style of blended learning supports ILT by bolstering its weak areas and gives learners the flexibility that in-person learning doesn’t offer. For example, a big disadvantage with instructor-led training is its inability to personalize instruction or accommodate multiple learning preferences. Asynchronous learning options can bridge those gaps by providing training on-demand content that suits different learning approaches.

To add asynchronous training activities, design short, self-directed eLearning or mobile learning modules designed to complement your classroom curriculum. For example, learning modules that go deeper into a topic you covered at a high level so employees can gain more understanding before their next in-person class.

Establishing discussion boards will allow employees to interact with other learners and discuss topics related to their ILT courses asynchronously. The instructor can then share additional resources with learners to help them gain a deeper understanding of the course material, such as videos, images, or links to additional information.

Asynchronous learning options can bridge those gaps by providing training on-demand content that suits different learning approaches.

Create pull learning content

Pull learning is a type of less formal, on-demand learning that puts learners in control of what and when they learn. It allows employees to access content that helps them with specific tasks or projects right when they need it. Traditional ILT uses push learning, where employees are told when and what they’re going to learn.

Pull learning is a great companion for ILT because it’s easy for learners to pop in and find out what they need to know. For example, if an employee needs a single piece of information to finish a task, seeking out that information by taking an instructor-led, in-person or virtual class doesn't make sense. When your employees have access to pull learning content, they can get in, learn what they need, and get the job done.

Making efforts to add pull learning content to your training programs also balances instructor-led training by giving learners a break from the classroom and letting them take more ownership of their learning experience. Research shows that when learners have a say in what they learn, they’re more engaged and motivated to learn.

To incorporate pull learning into your instructor-led training strategy, create on-demand content like video courses in your LMS or mobile courses where learners can go to supplement their classroom time. In addition, you can offer companion resources like knowledge bases or libraries that dive deeper into topics covered during formal training sessions. This provides learners with quick access to information whenever needed.

Related: What is Adult Learning Theory and How Can You Apply It?

Develop a facilitator guide for your instructors

ILT sessions are generally most engaging when they’re led by trainers who are knowledgeable and well-prepared. Developing a guide for your instructors gives them the information and tools they need—like discussion questions and training activities—to teach effectively. These guides also help instructors understand the goals of the course they’re teaching and how best to transfer information to learners.

Your facilitator guide should include the following elements:

  • The specific goals of the course
  • What you expect your learners to know when the course is complete
  • Guidelines for timing so your trainers are always on track
  • Notes on any concepts especially important for learners to know to ensure they're covered during the course
  • Information on what learners may already know from previous courses, so information isn’t repeated
  • Key points and questions your trainers can use to promote discussion
  • Resources like websites or books your trainer can recommend to your learners

Related: 6 Best Practices for Better Virtual Facilitation in L&D

Finding the right balance of teaching methods is key to creating happy learners

The best learning programs avoid focusing on one method of learning. Instead, they keep employees motivated to learn by achieving a balance between in-person, virtual instructor-led training, and eLearning. When you give your employees more ways to learn, they’ll stay engaged longer and get more out of their training. If you’re looking for a fast way to start supplementing your ILT to find that balance, start by developing a few microlearning courses that complement your in-person curriculum.