As eLearning has become more and more popular in recent years, the difference between it and instructor-led-training (ILT) is now quite clear. ILT is the traditional method of learning; classroom-based, with a teacher in the room with the students. eLearning is web-based, and can be accessed at any time as long as there is an internet connection.
Until the advent of eLearning, ILT was nearly always the way in which people would learn. From school, to college, university and workplace training, the course material would be delivered by a teacher or instructor in a classroom environment to a live audience of learners.
Despite the rise in eLearning, ILT is not obsolete yet. It lets learners ask questions, and lets teachers tailor their course based on the skill level and personality type of their class. Courses taken in-person also allow for teamworking in certain exercises, and live demonstrations that cannot truly be replicated by eLearning. This is especially the case in healthcare.
However, for most businesses, hosting ILT courses can be problematic. They are expensive, in terms of both time and money. As well as paying for the teacher, an organisation may have to hire a venue or set somewhere aside, which can be inconvenient too.
Employees have to take time away from work for ILT. They may have to travel to the venue, or at the least stop working for the duration of the course. This costs money through a loss of productivity, and can hinder the service a business provides its customers.
The effectiveness of the course can also be highly dependent on the skill of the teacher. While the course material could be as standard, the way it is delivered and how questions are answered depends entirely on whoever’s delivering it. A teacher who lacks charisma or enthusiasm can make the course boring or even totally inaccessible for the class.
eLearning has come a long way since its origins in the mid-1990s. Initially it was text-based, but has since evolved into an immersive experience that can incorporate video, images, activities, games and tests.
Due to being available wherever there is internet access, an eLearning course is highly flexible and can be taken anywhere, at any time. It is also becoming more advanced than ever, with the introduction of augmented reality, personalised learning paths, and mobile learning.
eLearning has many advantages for both learners and businesses wishing to use it to train their staff. Most of the disadvantages of ILT are solved by eLearning, especially the costs of hosting an event. Buying an eLearning package is a one off-purchase, so will not need to be bought again if refresher training is needed. Most courses can also be hosted on a business’s existing technology, so no new equipment has to be brought in to accommodate eLearning.
Employees can take a course based around their current commitments, so won’t need to break off from what they’re doing to attend a class. They can even take the course in bite-sized segments and return to it when convenient. This keeps productivity high, and completely eliminates the need for any travel.
While ILT can have the potential to be a dry experience leading to some learners not retaining what was taught in a lesson, eLearning can be highly engaging through its interactive features and games. Frequent tests and quizzes during a course increases retention too, as the learner can quickly correct any wrong answers by checking back and finding what they needed to know.
eLearning has had its criticisms. Some say that an eLearning course filled with graphics and animations will be distracting. However, a well-designed course that ultimately has the required learning material and target audience as the priority will avoid this problem.
It can also be argued that eLearning courses can quickly become outdated. This is the same with almost any course though, and can simply be remedied with an update. If you were update an ILT, it would require re-printing course materials at cost and maybe even require the teacher to be retrained.
A third option is blended learning, which offers a combination of the two. Learners attend a classroom-based session, but then augment the learning with an online eLearning course afterwards.
An alternative would be for learners to bring their devices into a classroom and follow an eLearning course as normal, but a teacher would also be on-hand to expand on certain points and answer questions.
Whether ILT, eLearning or both is best for you depends on your needs. However, it’s no coincidence that 72% of organisations claim that eLearning provides them with a distinct competitive advantage [eLearning Industry].