In Defence of Classroom Training

“We’re going to send you on a training course” – words that strike horror into many employees and which cause learning and development professionals to bang their heads in frustration. After all, employees hate being forced to sit in a classroom and being given stuff to do about a subject they can’t see the relevance of or practical use for. While L&D people have spent months- even years – devising alternative techniques such as MOOCs, e-learning and other interventions – to ensure that they can provide cost-effective ways to improve people’s skills and knowledge.

Over the last 18 months or so I’ve been asked to deliver a lot of classroom based training – something which I haven’t done for maybe 6 or 7 years. In part it’s because the small employers I work with are recognising that they need to invest in their staff, either to retain them or because the skills they need are lacking

And here’s the news – learners actually like “old fashioned” classroom based training. They value the time away from their daily role to concentrate on a topic; they normally have intelligent questions about the subject matter and can see how they can apply it to work situations; and they like the fact that they get to meet colleagues (or in certain instances people from other businesses) and can get to know them in a non-pressured work situation. A form of low-tech social networking if you like. And many have commented to me that they learn more this way than they would by being asked to complete an online module either in their own time or rushing to complete it during the working day.

I’m sure some L&D professionals will point out to me studies that show training courses are the worst at delivering changes in behaviour in the long term, or have the lowest “return on investment”.  To which I would say you may be right. It may be that classroom training is simply an example of the Hawthorne Effect. But properly designed, my observational evidence with a number of diverse businesses is that it is still an effective way to deliver training, and should still be an important part of the learning and development “mix”

2 thoughts on “In Defence of Classroom Training

  1. Pingback: It’s all about the learning mix | Thinking About Learning

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