Instructor-Led Training Vs. Self-Paced Learning: After All The Commotion

Instructor-Led Training Vs. Self-Paced Learning: After All The Commotion
Summary: The reason behind the inception of this article is to educate aspirants and the general populace on self-paced learning and Instructor-Led Training programs, and how each of them differs widely, yet remains so congruent to its roots.

Discussing Instructor-Led Training Vs. Self-Paced Learning

The concept of eLearning in the last decade has become synonymous with self-paced learning. With MOOCs, YouTube, and other online training platforms, it has become apparent to everyone that to learn online, one has to watch videos and read PDFs.

Having been a consumer, creator, and marketer of eLearning courses, I have had a front seat as this revolution has picked pace.

Customer education is something that becomes vital when one form of delivery dominates an entire industry. In other words, it’s time to tell people of the lesser-known cousin to self-paced eLearning, the online Instructor-Led Training model.

Before professors sat in front of the tripod and recorded whole length courses, eLearning was mostly delivered in real time. Much like the classroom method of learning, eLearning, too, had a professor delivering the course live over video- or audio-sharing technologies.

Instructor-Led Training

This form of delivery evolved to what we call an Instructor-Led Training model. With a host of virtual tools, assignments, and course customizations, Instructor-Led Training became extremely effective in terms of takeaways, and got rave reviews and adoption from companies. It also gained prominence for its effectiveness in preparation for competitive examinations, and for those professionals seeking a serious upgrade of their knowledge.

There also lays a problem which was quite apparent from the start with an Instructor-Led Training program. Being limited by batch sizes, timings, and payment options, Instructor-Led Training could only cater to a small customer base.

This, invariably, meant a large opportunity existed for the creation of a product to market to the masses, and, especially, for those who wanted certificates and accolades to validate accomplishments as akin to immersive course content and takeaways. Here self-paced learning began to emerge as a game changer.

Self-Paced Learning

Given its ease of access, standardized content and economical pricing, self-paced learning was a marketer’s delight. With marketing campaigns that seemed to cater to volumes, these courses were bundled and sold as off-the-shelf products, and an automated behemoth of a business model was born.

Self-paced learning also provided the luxury of gaining access to information and course content earlier provided only to a select few. For example, getting a glimpse of courses delivered by Ivy League schools provides an exposure previously unavailable to the average Joe/Jane.

Now in the presence of such a juggernaut where exactly would a model as Instructor-Led Training thrive? Simple, it would continue to cater to that niche populace that appreciated the content and understood its value.

Instructor-Led Training still has a huge presence in serious certifications with post-course exams. These courses are also provided in a self-paced learning platform but have a minuscule acceptance rate. Also, Instructor-Led Training has become the norm in corporate training. Given the geography, course pricing, and infrastructure challenges, online Instructor-Led Training has rapidly been replacing the conventional classroom training imparted as part of Learning and Development programs across companies.

Given the fact that an instructor-led course will remain more expensive and more rigid in its delivery, course curators also have a vital role to play. Efficient moderators, precise scheduling, effective coordination, and contingency plans over schedule and delivery issues, all play a role in this model. These also account for difficulties and apparent areas of vulnerability for an instructor-led course. Given the benefits and disadvantages of both these forms of delivery, it’s becoming more vital than ever to educate the end consumer/aspirant on the availability of both these models.

This article aims to illustrate this point and give some much-needed props to Instructor-Led Training. This model of eLearning is fast becoming an auxiliary and is vastly unknown. Companies largely avoid it due to the fact that it is practically non-scalable and hence can never generate the kind of revenues a self-paced learning course shall provide.

Given this, Instructor-Led Training has largely become an inconspicuous model embraced by very few niche players and specific to particular requirements. The relevance of an ILT course will always remain, but invariably so does its limitations in catering to all. How appreciative will the general populace be of this model is a question worth to wait and deliberate over.