Instructor-Led Training vs eLearning: What is the Difference?

If you are like 90% of organizations in North America, the pandemic has forced you to confront a quick adoption of new forms of training; specifically, a transition to online training or eLearning – particularly for OHS.  I’ve long preached that a blended approach works best for effective training programs; after all, some OHS training needs to be hands on, and for cost reasons, a toolbox talk can be very effective.

However, when I talk to the vast majority of safety managers and directors who are actively trying to engage workers and move from a traditional to an online or blended model, most ask me what are the advantages and disadvantages of each – so I figured maybe I should write a quick post to help tell the story.

WHAT IS ILT?

ILT, or instructor-led training, is the type of training you’re most familiar with. It’s training that occurs in a classroom, lunchroom, or from the back of an F-150. And, for many employees for many subjects, this traditional method is the most common, and by extension, the most effective method of training.

ILT ADVANTAGES

  1. The biggest advantage of instructor-led training is that employees have the opportunity to ask questions to a highly qualified expert. Trainers and instructors can also adapt their presentations to the skill level and personality of the class they’re teaching.
  2. Instructor-led, or traditional, classes can also break off into brainstorming or role-playing groups.
  3. Employees get a chance to learn from each other.
  4. Most importantly, for complex or highly collaborative subjects, instructor-led training provides the direct immersion experience employees need to learn the material.

ILT CHALLENGES

  1. High cost of implementation, both in terms of time and money
  2. Inconsistent messaging and teaching styles of instructors
  3. Time away from work and interruption to employee’s daily task

WHAT IS ELEARNING?

Since it’s delivered online, eLearning solutions can include videos, tests, activities, and images in the training; it may also include:

  • Interactive videos
  • Mobile learning
  • Gamification
  • Virtual or augmented reality simulations
  • Personalized learning paths

ELEARNING ADVANTAGES

A reason that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies use eLearning. The advantages of eLearning include:

  1. Saving companies money, in terms of development hours, travel costs, and employee time away from work
  2. Taking less time away from an employee’s work day, as eLearning takes up to 40-60% less time than classroom instruction
  3. Allowing employees more flexibility to access training when and where they have the time to do so
  4. Being particularly suited for employees who are remote, traveling, or have high turnover rates
  5. Creating personalized custom eLearning solutions that can be tailored to better match the specific learner
  6. Allowing employees to pause training, reread information, or test out of information they already know
  7. Increasing employee retention of information, for specific subjects

These advantages are best accessed when the eLearning course is:

  • Focused on a single, accessible topic, such as sexual harassment or a software demo
  • Concise, to-the-point, and organized in small chunks to discourage scanning or skimming
  • Enhanced, but not distracted, by visuals, animations, and activities

ELEARNING CHALLENGES

  • eLearning solutions that rely on overly flashy graphics or animations are distracting to students.
  • eLearning can also become outdated, especially for rapidly evolving fields, unless active revisions are part of the training design process.