If you’re familiar with our work even at a surface level or looking at our digital training solutions page, you’ll notice that instructor-led training (virtual or otherwise) isn’t anywhere to be found. We don’t do contract training, virtual training sessions, or anything like that.
There’s a good reason for that which we’re going to cover here. Through years of work in the learning & development world, we’ve concluded that the case for trainers coming into your organization or sessions being hosted by outside people simply isn’t right for most corporate technical training projects, especially software training.
Our specialty is training for corporate IT systems and helping employees learn software quickly. We’re a strong promoter of software training that’s tailored to your organization and systems. That requires custom training that helps employees learn company systems quickly whether new or changing.
That rarely involves any type of traditional format of training. There are plenty of cases where traditional types of training are beneficial, but IT is rarely one of them. Soft skills, sales, leadership, etc. are all great use cases for traditional training both in-person and virtual and it occasionally can make sense for IT but not often. We specialize in corporate technical training and there are plenty of other organizations that provide other types of training.
This post shows why we don’t provide instructor-led training. But first, it’s good to know what types of instructor-led training are available since the reason we don’t offer either is unique to both.
The Two Types Of Instructor-Led Training
There are two types of instructor-led training and each one is accomplished very differently. The scale of each one can vary a lot too. They could vary from 1 to 1,000 participants or more but they are each limited in different ways, either technologically, physically, or both.
We also have different reasons why we don’t do either type of instructor-led training. First up, the original type of training, in-person training.
In-Person Training (ILT)
The name is somewhat self-explanatory but can vary in how it’s carried out quite a bit. It could be as simple as someone from your department scheduling a conference room to teach a new process. In-person training can also be a massive 15,000-person arena filled with people wooing over the trainer (entertainer). That might be something you’d see from a Tony Robbins event even though you might consider him a coach or speaker but not a trainer. When it comes down to it, though, he is a type of trainer.
I’ve been to huge sales training events at sales-based organizations where they fly in all the top performers for a multi-day event. There are big-name speakers, leaders from the organization, and activities where they learn new approaches on how to approach sales.
Sometimes in-person instructor-led training can border on entertainment and can also include more than one instructor. It’s by no means required to be held in a classroom and is not limited in size. Here are some of the things you’ll likely find in a good in-person instructor-led training:
- Activities where groups each take on a specific activity or challenge.
- Flip charts where information from the whole group or small groups is documented and presented.
- Hands-on activities such as solving a puzzle with a limited number of items (team building!)
- Group discussions where everybody gets to give their input.
- And more of whatever can be done to increase engagement, variety, and ultimately learning of the topic to be trained.
In-person instructor-led training can vary a lot in how it looks and is executed. It’s useful in some cases and for other things that need to be trained, it’s not efficient, effective, or necessary.
But what about virtual, how does that differ? Let’s take a look!
Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT)
Just as in-person instructor-led training can vary a lot, virtual instructor-led training can also. It may be that the virtual training is part of a bigger curriculum where there are many virtual sessions for a remote education program, or it could be a webinar.
Yes, even some webinars are in a way virtual instructor-led training. They may not always be interactive or have activities, but if the goal is to change behavior or teach you something, it’s training!
The official definition of training is up for debate but it’s pretty clear that if the goal is to change behavior or acquire new knowledge, it’s training. And, if it’s online and synchronous then it’s virtual instructor-led training.
It can be through a platform like Webex, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or any number of other platforms that let trainers present virtually. These are some of the things you’ll find specifically in virtual instructor-led training:
- Breakout rooms where small groups break out to have discussions or come up with solutions to a problem.
- The instructor looking like a talking head on the screen.
- Live surveys or polls during the training session.
- Annotating on the screen by the trainer or even by participants.
- A participant can be given control of the cursor to take action.
There’s a lot of versatility in what you can do in virtual instructor-led training. While there are some things in-person you can do that cannot be done virtually, there are other things that can be done virtually that can’t be done in person.
Now that we’ve covered the two types of instructor-led training and what makes them unique, it’s time to get into why we don’t do either. Nope, no in-person and no virtual either. Not in any capacity or any situation. But if that’s what you need we won’t leave you hanging. We have lots of connections in L&D, just give us a shout.
The Reasons We Don’t Do Instructor-Led Training
We have our reasons why we don’t specialize or do instructor-led training. While many of our instructional design consultants have worked on projects for instructor-led training, techstructional simply doesn’t do it. There’s also no plan to add that solution since we can’t justify the need in the end.
So, let’s take a look at why we don’t do instructor-led training, either in-person, providing in-person trainers, virtually, or even providing virtual trainers.
The Two Reasons We Don’t Do In-Person
There are two major reasons we don’t offer or do in-person training in our digital training solutions. That in itself is a reason, though. There’s nothing digital about in-person training and it simply doesn’t fit training for IT software, systems, or procedures in a way that makes sense for most technical training.
First up, a good in-person trainer knows their people well.
Know Your People
We don’t do in-person training because we don’t find it effective to come into an organization from the outside as an in-person trainer. While we get to know your culture and people during our process, it’s not at a deep enough level that an in-person trainer needs to know to be effective.
In-person trainers should be part of your organization and know it through and through. Something is lacking in someone who comes into an organization from the outside and tries to train others. The important message of training sometimes gets lost in the lack of organization-specifics that the trainer doesn’t know.
This one is important for soft skills and things that aren’t IT systems, but there’s a more important reason why we don’t do in-person training for company technology.
Most technology training is a hands-on, do-it-to-learn type of training. That means it’s nearly impossible to do in a classroom while watching an instructor. It’s even more difficult to hear about abstract processes or screens on a slide that don’t seem to connect in any way. That’s also one reason why we think video training isn’t always the best for technical training.
Whatever people think is their dominant learning style, it’s not, it’s merely a preference. The content will dictate how content is best taught. When learning technology (especially software), it needs to be a hands-on approach. There’s no such thing as reading abstractly about how to use a system, and watching a video or something else only accomplishes so much.
There are abstract ideas and things in IT that are best taught in other ways besides doing, but that’s an exception.
We aren’t able to reproduce any meaningful way of learning about and practicing software or systems in an in-person setting. It would end up being a room full of computers with people looking back and forth from their computer to the computer at the front of the room. So, everybody staring at their computer while watching what someone else is doing and trying to replicate it.
This is how it was done in my college degree for demonstrations and it wasn’t efficient or effective and the teacher knew it. That’s why most of the work was done from a book one-on-one with walkthroughs. Now I’m sure it’s all done online.
Why not just help them do it in the first place rather than having to try to replicate someone else?
It’s just not practical for most organizations to have in-person training for technology. Employees are performing processes that are done on the computer and are best taught on the computer. We can provide realistic practice which neither type of instruct-led training can do.
In-person training has its merits for some types of content. We simply don’t build those types of training at all. Therefore, we stick to the virtual realm and only virtual.
Why We Don’t Do Virtual
Just as in-person training isn’t effective for having people do something and practice while learning, that’s also the case for virtual instructor-led training. It’s possible to have a participant or two take control and try something out, but that only gives one person practice, not everyone.
When we build corporate technical training, we build it in a way that’s not simply showing people how to do their work in systems. The content we build is a complete process with scenarios that are like having a personal coach sitting right there with you walking you through the process.
Virtual instructor-led training (vIRT) can’t effectively reproduce the necessity of having people practice and do something while taking the training. Only custom eLearning can accomplish this by recreating a system in a safe environment that walks people through processes while having them do it.
Any of the benefits from vILT can be duplicated easily in asynchronous training. If training has a route for participants to ask questions or get help, their questions can still be answered. In every course we build we try to give a clear way to get answers or a person who can help.
If a system is new and there are a lot of anticipated questions that can’t be foreseen in training, office hours solves that. Allow employees to come to sessions where subject matter experts will be to answer questions.
In most cases, we see that these sessions aren’t utilized or are rarely utilized, but they’re still an option to offer comfort to those who are uncomfortable with the technical change. We’ve gone through a whole process of weighing the benefits and drawbacks of offering virtual instructor-led training.
Weighing Benefits/Drawbacks Of vILT
There are some benefits to virtual instructor-led training but there are also some drawbacks. We went over some of these in our post about how we save an organization more than $20,000 every year by converting vILT into eLearning. Just by the title you can see we have a preference for digital training of the asynchronous type.
We ultimately decided that vILT isn’t for us and isn’t going to add sufficient benefits for technical training in most cases. For each benefit, we ultimately found too many drawbacks or easy solutions that require less overhead.
- Questions and answers: Yes, employees can ask questions in real-time or at the end, but with a few office hours scheduled, that easily replaces the necessity to ask questions during training. For the limited few who need more help or have questions, office hours are a more effective way of accomplishing the same thing.
- Uniqueness: Each vILT session is indeed unique, but the amount and usefulness of that uniqueness doesn’t matter. Nobody is taking each session anyway, typically it’s a once-and-done kind of thing so who cares if each person’s session is unique?
- Engaging: Instructors can ask the audience to take control and do something in the software, but that’s only one person at a time. Everyone should get practice which a self-paced course can do.
- Focused: It’s true, employees have to step away from their work to participate in training, but that doesn’t make their minds focus. Minds still wonder especially when you’re completely away from work and something essential could be happening.
- Feedback: Just as instructors can ask for immediate feedback, self-paced courses can do the same. Most organizations send a follow-up survey for an instructor the same as would happen in eLearning.
- Customized: The beauty of a self-paced course is that each person can dictate the speed of the content and can revisit any section as necessary. While participants in a vILT session can request changes, those changes affect everyone. That’s not very custom after all.
There you have it, some of the reasons why we ultimately decided that vILT can never achieve the level of convenience and benefit of self-paced eLearning courses for technical training. The reason for it is also very similar to in-person ILT.
There’s simply no powerful benefit that any type of real-time training presents to the organization that eLearning can’t. That’s why we have simply done away with instructor-led training from our offerings. It has nothing to do with us loving to work in our pickleball pants (yes, some of us do) but that’s definitely a perk.
Training that works for everyone’s schedule, the content, and the organization is always a priority. We’ve found the perfect blend of self-paced training with performance support resources that help employees perform better and use company technology more effectively.
Not to mention, eLearning works remarkably for software simulations.
Some organizations may find it meaningful to bring everyone into the same room (virtual or real), and that may be essential for certain types of projects. For the types of projects we specialize in, it’s not necessary, is unhelpful, and can’t offer the same level of support as the digital training solutions we offer.
For those organizations who find that in-person or virtual instructor-led training is required, there are plenty of options to find solutions for that. We are not leaving a gap in the market by not providing real-time training for technology.
A gap is left in the market for organizations that specialize in digital training solutions for company IT training. There are eLearning developers, consulting organizations, and more that can handle technical training, but they’re simply not specialists in it.
We’ve fine-tuned the process of training employees at organizations to help them take advantage of company technology innovations. That’s why we stick to what we know works best in corporate IT training to help employees who are non-techie understand what they need to do their jobs better.
If you’d like to learn how we can help your organization’s employees learn corporate IT systems better, we’d love to talk with you in a free consultation. We’d love to learn about your organization and technical project. Our goal is to help your employees perform better in their jobs with company technology through our custom training solutions. We know custom training solutions will always perform better than off-the-shelf solutions or instructor-led training.