Is This Truly the End of Classroom-Based Training?

classroom based training

Though the sound of the drumbeat of its demise has been growing louder and louder, classroom-based training is not quite dead yet.

According to Training magazine’s 2020 Training Industry Report—published in November 2020, while the pandemic was still underway—the majority (54 percent) of respondents indicated that they plan to return to some classroom training post-pandemic while maintaining some of the remote learning instituted during the crisis. Another 12 percent said they plan to return to classroom training as usual once the pandemic is over.

How does this make sense? While the pandemic certainly accelerated the need for employees to work remotely, remote training is a part of this, and it might seem counterintuitive that companies would want to return to classroom-based training.

However, it’s important to understand why some companies still find value in classroom-based training. Further, if classroom-based training continues at its current survival rate, learning leaders must find ways to integrate it into online learning initiatives and vice-versa.

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Why Classroom-Based Training Hasn’t Completely Died Off Yet

In general, classroom-based training creates a more focused and engaging experience for both the instructor and the learners. Let’s have a look at several reasons why.

Fewer distractions

When all of the learners are physically in one room, they are not distracted by other work-related tasks and communications. For some types of technical and compliance training, this is important for absorption of knowledge. 

Fewer technology glitches

When employees are attending remote learning in their home offices, they are subject to other types of distractions in the form of technology issues, such as platform compatibility, Internet speeds, or power outages. These are not concerns when attending in-person training. 

Higher—and forced—participation rates

With fewer overall distractions, the instructor can judge if students are paying attention during class. With online learning, employees can simply put themselves on mute and turn their cameras off, which is not possible with live, in-person learning. With more attentive learners, the teacher can also perform better, as the dynamic feeds off of each other for everyone’s benefit. 

Lower costs to develop

Instructor-led classroom training might also be more inexpensive to create. Instructor-led classroom training requires only 67 hours on average to develop, according to learning consultant Robyn DeFelice in her annual assessment of the time required to develop various types of learning content. 

While this figure is higher than that for the development of online/virtual instructor-led training, at 55 hours, and for passive “page-turner” eLearning modules, at 48 hours, instructor-led classroom training content development still requires fewer hours that that for partial (84 hours), moderate (116 hours), and full-engagement (155 hours) eLearning content development.

Interactivity, creativity, collegiality

Finally, classroom learning allows for the highest levels of in-person engagement. Some types of training involve role-playing in mock scenarios, for which remote learning is difficult to accomplish. 

Organizations understand the importance of having employees collaborate live, whether for training or even in the everyday workplace. This is also the reason why some companies do plan on having employees return to the office, even on a part-time, staggered schedule. Nearly 74 percent of businesses report they’re bringing employees back to the office, according to a survey conducted by Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network.

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What L&D Can Do to Integrate Classroom-Based Learning into Online Learning Initiatives

Increase Virtual Instructor-Led Training

While classroom-based learning managed to keep going during the pandemic—there was only a 10 percent decrease in the number of organizations using live instructor-led training—many organizations took the hybrid approach: there was a 19 percent increase in virtual instructor-led training during the pandemic, according to a 2021 Leadership Development survey published in Training magazine.

This is perhaps organizations’ best bet for finding ways to capture the unique interactive elements of classroom-based training while working within the restrictions of remote work: some employees simply cannot travel, and some workspaces might be deemed too unsafe for some.

Repurpose Content, Create Online Support Materials

Further, that live, instructor-led training can be recorded for later use in the development of additional learning materials and experiences. 

Video clips can become “bite-size” learning modules for learning on the go. Text-based content can form part of digital support materials or assessments which can be accessed at a later date after the training is complete.

Go Back and Forth

Classroom-based learning need not be a 100 percent offline experience. Facilitators or subject matter experts can bring digital interactivity into the classroom by having some modules be online only—accessible only via a smartphone, tablet or Web browser while learners are in the classroom.

This can help break up any potential monotony during the sessions. For example, if the instructor uses polls or quizzes, the results can be shared on the instructor’s screen, for everyone’s review, and can be used as a learning tool. Such polls or quizzes might need to be anonymous, and so a digital tool or platform can come in to deliver this need during a live classroom session.

Final Thoughts

Classroom-based training is here to stay. Many organizations find that it provides an environment with fewer distractions. Additionally, the costs to develop classroom-based training can end up being lower than that for more complex eLearning modules.

However, it cannot live in isolation. Learning leaders can integrate eLearning experiences within the live, in-person instruction setting, and use the classroom material as a source for repackaged content for later use in assessments and skill support.

Looking to leverage classroom-based training for an upskilling or reskilling program? Check out this free eBook:
How Upskilling and Reskilling Programs Can Futureproof Your Workforce

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