(This post originally published October 30, 2014 and updated 9/15/18)
In a tunnel-vision, 140-character world, the relationship building and interaction that occurs within an instructor-led training is rapidly disappearing. A quality, instructor-led training event includes reviewing a base level of knowledge, an opportunity to set the stage, identify missing ingredients, stir the discussion, while delivering the opportunity to connect with business relationships at multiple levels within an organization. In a public offering, there is the opportunity to meet with competitors and potential collaborators alike.
A Rich Opportunity
Training classes today – unlike 15 to 20 years ago – are chock full of diverse participants oftentimes from various levels of an organization. When new software is deployed enterprise-wide or new compliance training is needed – everyone completes training. What a rich opportunity for those who participate! Team members who never meet at the coffee machine, nor travel the same hallways could be in the same training event, participating and interacting on a level previously unavailable.
Watching the collaboration between an executive and a customer-facing employee (who can articulate what the customer actually wants) is exhilarating for all involved. Would that face-to-face, real-word interaction have occurred under normal circumstances or in an isolated self-study opportunity?
Relationship Potential; Being Social
Historically, delivering instructor-led training in a classroom setting (training center/ truck bay / conference room / corporate lunchroom, etc) included other multiple activities: learning, relationship building and networking with like-minded peers on a business topic or project. Consequently, everyone in attendance had an opportunity – if they choose – to make a connection, learn from other’s success and hiccups and interact within group discussions / activities. Heightened focus on individual learning (self-learning, chunk learning, flipped classroom delivery, eLearning, etc) appears convenient and cost-effective for the audience and the organization. Additionally, the concept of individual learning promotes (in part) the ability for the learner to learn alone at a schedule and location of choice.
However, this may be at the expense of classroom interaction with knowledgeable and experienced peers, instructor(s) and support staff. Do individual-focused learning methods recognize and provide the inherent learning benefits available when learning occurs in a group environment with a professional trainer and diverse participants? Learning what does not work well from a personal or case study prospective is as much a learning experience as “learning the [insert company name here] way”. Obviously, not all workplace skills development needs a full-blown, multi-day instructor-led course event.
In conclusion, one can ask a question. If organizations focus primarily on separate, individual, bite-size learning methodologies, are we missing the opportunity to develop business-appropriate social skills, increase business relationships, and mentor the next business leaders?