The Future of Classroom Training is Strong


“The classroom is still king in terms of spending, despite ever-increasing options that are seen as more effective.”

This is one of the top findings in Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Training Benchmarking Study.

Instructor-led Training Lives On

The death of instructor led training has been greatly exaggerated. There is more than one report that has exposed this reality. ATD and Training Magazine each have annual reports with slightly different numbers but the end result is still the same: Classroom training is the most widely used delivery method. That may come as a shock to some eLearning professionals, but long time classroom trainers are not surprised.

In the early ‘90s when computer based training was beginning to impact the enterprise it felt like the classroom was most certainly going away. Personally, I had visions of a teacher-less world. My dreams were of CBTs so compelling and engaging that teachers just wouldn’t be necessary. Multimedia self-paced instructional training courses would be all anyone would ever want. Oops! We were so very wrong. Apparently as human beings we actually do enjoy some time in the classroom. And better yet, we find it more effective.

Blended Learning Combines ILT, Self-paced Instruction and More

Career classroom trainers will say “we told you so”. And training industry practitioners that lean heavily towards technology based solutions will blame poor designs, bad implementation of technologies, or even the LMS industry, for the poor performance and acceptance of self-paced CBT courses.  I’ll admit to seeing many early CBTs that could easily be blamed for the flight back to the classroom, but that’s not the technology’s fault. It took about a decade for us to realize that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Today we find common ground in the realm of Blended learning. Instead of choosing only one delivery method for each training solution, we use multiple delivery types based on the content and the specific needs of the users.

The best training solutions combine the best of the classroom and the best of technology to create an experience that supports the science of learning. They combine classroom training events with self-paced elearning, spaced repetition of micro-content delivery, and technology driven communities. And these delivery modes are managed, supported, and enhanced through advanced learning management solutions that simplify complex blended course implementations using automation.

Learning Automation is the Next Phase

You read that correctly. Automation. Complex repetitive tasks are always targets of automation, and repetition is what computers and robots do best. Early LMSs supported and improved the organization, delivery, and tracking of single event courses but were not built to manage a complex blend of learning solutions. Because back then there was no such thing as a complex blended learning solution. There were only courses. The only blending of media was done in the classroom. This made managing logistics easy and often not even the training department’s responsibility. There were admins and facilities management teams to handle that.

But that was 10+ years ago. What I’m seeing today are teams with responsibility for all aspects of training including logistics. This is true across the spectrum of businesses from the SMB to the larger enterprise. Training teams need to manage ILT scheduling as well as self-paced training content delivery. And with today’s technology that means communicating with your learners via emails, chats, and notifications. Each course may involve multiple emails, or other communications depending on user profile selections. And when you’re selling certifications, eCommerce can become overwhelming unless you’ve automated the billing and payment options. Automating the business of training provides significant value to the business and empowers training leaders.

The data found in industry reports are a good snapshot of the past, and help us make certain decisions in the present. However, data from the past is not always a good indicator of the future.  The slow but steady decline in ILT displayed in some reports may not continue. ILT may level out instead of dropping to zero, as some might hope. But in my opinion, Instructor-led training in the classroom is not going away. Futurists have often referenced sci-fi authors as accurately predicting future technologies. If that’s the case then read Enders Game again, or watch the movie. How does the Battle School “train” the kids? Gaming. Simulations. And yes, the classroom.

Find out more surprising data from Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Training Benchmarking Study.