Despite continually evolving technology and tightened purse strings, expensive and intensive traditional classroom-based instructor-led training (ILT) remains prevalent in today’s learning organizations, especially for critical management and leadership skills.
Sixty-five percent of learning executives indicated they continue to use classroom training as the primary learning delivery method for developing soft skills, according to an analysis of survey data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board (BIB) featured in the magazine’s February special report on learning delivery.
The editors of Chief Learning Officer, in conjunction with the HCM Advisory Group, survey the BIB, a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry, several times throughout the year to assess and benchmark a variety of learning and development measurements.
Based on those surveys, classroom-based ILT remains the primary delivery method used overall, regardless of type of skill being developed. According to the survey, 41 percent of learning executives indicated they continue to use classroom training as the primary learning delivery method. Formal on-the-job training tied asynchronous e-learning for the second highest ranked instructional delivery method (18 percent), followed by synchronous e-learning (11 percent), text-based training (4 percent), satellite video (4 percent) and portable technology (1 percent).
For delivering soft skills training, the classroom-based method is even more prevalent and has proven to be remarkably resilient. The use of ILT for soft skills is only slightly down this year (65 percent) after its peak in 2009, when 69 percent of executives employed it as their delivery method of choice. In 2007 and 2008, 65 percent and 64 percent reported using ILT for soft skills training, respectively.
Asynchronous e-learning and formal on-the-job training were a distant second and third in 2010, according to the survey findings — only 13 percent and 8 percent reported using them to develop their employees’ soft skills, respectively.
The use of ILT for soft skills training is also consistent across different company sizes. Sixty-six percent of respondents from companies with fewer than 2,500 employees reported using it as the primary delivery method, 69 percent for companies from 2,500 to 10,000 employees, 65 percent for companies with up to 100,000 employees and 62 percent for companies with more than 100,000 employees.
While classroom-based ILT continues to be the most commonly used delivery method, its use has decreased slightly over the past three years (from 44 percent in 2009 and 45 percent in 2008). As the work environment changes, technology-assisted learning continues to gain in popularity.
Looking at anticipated change in delivery methods in the next 12 to 18 months, learning organizations are poised to increasingly support learning that includes technology and decrease emphasis on in-person, location-based learning. A majority of BIB members indicated they plan to increase their use of asynchronous e-learning (59 percent), while the greatest anticipated decrease is in classroom-based ILT (36 percent).
BIB members also reported they plan to increase asynchronous e-learning mainly due to its perceived effectiveness (21 percent), cost (27 percent) and convenience (26 percent). Anticipated use of classroom-based ILT decreased primarily due to cost (44 percent). Hiring an instructor and maintaining classroom space and the materials to implement this methodology are expensive, time-intensive endeavors.
While the classroom remains king for now, the speed of business and technological change are making other learning delivery methods increasingly popular.
Mike Prokopeak is editorial director of Chief Learning Officer magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Click here to read more of CLO’s coverage of the tools and technology impacting learning this year via our Special Report on Learning Delivery.