Even though we’re die-hard online learning fans here at Growth Engineering, we haven’t lost our love for more traditional training methods. This includes instructor-led training (ILT).
This is the type of training we tend to be most familiar with. In fact, most of us have sat through an instructor-led class before, whether that’s advanced algebra at school or health and safety training at work.
In fact, it’s still one of today’s most popular teaching methods, especially in educational settings.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what exactly instructor-led training covers. We’ll then explore the benefits and drawbacks of ILT.
What Is Instructor-Led Training?
Instructor-led training, or ILT for short, is a training method that involves an instructor leading a classroom of learners in real-time.
Typically, ILT sessions are conducted in a classroom setting, where learners and instructors can interact and discuss training content in person.
These sessions can last anywhere from an hour to several days and can be delivered by one or more instructors.
The role of the instructor can vary depending on the type of instructor-led training. In some cases, instructors may deliver the training in a lecture format to a large group of learners.
In other cases, instructors may facilitate more hands-on, interactive sessions where they provide real-life examples, answer questions, and offer more personalised feedback.
However, ILT is not limited to a physical classroom setting. Its online counterpart, virtual instructor-led training (VILT), has become increasingly popular in recent years.
These online learning sessions are typically delivered using video conferencing software and other digital tools to create an interactive and engaging online learning experience. If you are interested in VILT, we have a whole article devoted to the topic!
Now that you have an idea of what ILT means, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this training method!
Benefits of ILT
There is a reason why instructor-led training is still so popular. In fact, there are numerous benefits to the approach.
1. Social Environment
Instructor-led training typically takes place in a group setting. This gives you a great opportunity to promote social learning.
Social interaction and collaboration allow your learners to share their ideas and knowledge, work in groups, gain experience from real-life examples and collect insights from various perspectives.
In addition, instructor-led training gives learners networking opportunities that empower them to connect with their colleagues. As such, ILT can be a useful approach for bonding, team building and collaborative problem-solving.
2. Easy to Enforce
Instructor-led sessions take place at a set time. Their synchronous nature means that it’s not something learners can wriggle out of.
In fact, ILT requires a lot of preparation to run smoothly. As a result, learners should have a clear understanding of when and where these sessions take place and what they will learn in the process.
3. Immediate Feedback
ILT also means that learners have access to their instructors for immediate feedback. This allows you to create a complete feedback loop. As a result, learners can effectively close their knowledge and skills gaps and avoid confusion or wasted energy.
Similarly, learners can provide immediate feedback to the instructor as they progress through the course. The instructor can then adjust accordingly and incorporate this feedback into their future ILT sessions.
Instructor-led training can be extremely beneficial when the topic of your training is something new or complex. After all, having an instructor on-hand to answer questions and demonstrate concepts can greatly enhance the learning experience.
Of course, it’s possible to create effective demonstrations without an instructor. However, having a real-life person can be useful. After all, they can adjust the demonstration to your learners’ unique needs and current knowledge levels.
5. Easier to Adapt
ILT is relatively easy to adapt as instructors can see and evaluate their learners in real-time. In fact, as an instructor, you can be more flexible with the delivery of your training programme.
For example, you can react to questions and expand topics based on what your learners are interested in. If your learners struggle to grasp a concept then you can give them the support or extra time they need.
Similarly, by having an in-person connection with learners, instructors can easily judge the general reception to the training and switch things up there and then if needed. Body language and facial expressions are excellent giveaways.
6. Limited Distractions
Instructor-led training typically takes place in a classroom for a fixed period of time. The aim is to have your learners engaged in two-way communication with the instructor.
As a result, you have a great opportunity to train them without your learners being distracted by competing demands. This is essential, as distracted learners are guaranteed to see lower retention rates.
However, you cannot solely rely on the classroom setting to limit distractions. Your training also needs to be engaging and exciting.
Disadvantages of ILT
Even though there are great advantages to instructor-led training, ILT also comes with some disadvantages. Let’s take a look!
Instructor-led training typically carries a hefty price tag. In fact, there are some recurring expenses tied to ILT that typically take up a big chunk of your L&D budget.
These include, for instance, venue or classroom rental, instructor fees, travel expenses, accommodation costs, training materials, catering and so on. On top of this, there is a performance-related cost as you need to take learners away from their jobs to attend training.
As a result, in-person training is typically more expensive than its online counterpart. While online learning tools come with an initial setup cost, the running costs tend to be lower. After all, you can cut most of the previously mentioned expenses.
2. Time Away From Work
We touched upon this in the earlier section, but it’s worthy of its own point!
In a corporate environment, training sessions usually take place away from the office. This means that your employees have to take the time to commute to the venue, attend the training session and commute back.
And this, of course, means that there will be a longer downtime for your employees. After all, they are away from their jobs and normal duties for hours or full days, which limits their productivity.
Digital training methods, on the other hand, fit easily into your employees’ daily lives. For example, methods like mobile learning and microlearning enable them to learn in smaller bursts and on the go.
3. Limited Learner Numbers
While it’s possible to deliver training to thousands of learners in one go, most instructors shy away from this, and for a good reason! After all, keeping your content relevant to everyone is extremely difficult in these circumstances.
In addition, your L&D costs will skyrocket if you want to train thousands of people in one go. You need a massive venue, your catering costs will increase, and your travel and accommodation reimbursements will be out of the roof.
As such, most ILT sessions tend to be facilitated in smaller groups. This, however, means that you are able to train fewer learners at a time. Ensuring all employees get relevant training can become a big administrative and operational challenge.
4. No Instant Access to Training
Other disadvantages include the fact that your learners need to wait for a training session to take place to advance in their learning journey. In other words, they don’t have instant, just-in-time access to training.
As a result, with an ILT approach, learners have to work through learning material at a predetermined pace. There is no guarantee that this pace works for each and every learner in your audience.
With an online learning approach, learners can go at the speed they want to. This also enables them to whizz through content they already know, which allows them to focus on new areas or recap concepts they are struggling with.
5. Limited Personalised Instruction
One-size-fits-all training should be a thing of the past. After all, L&D departments focus on creating personalised and fully relevant training content for their learners.
However, it will be harder to provide personalised instruction in an instructor-led training setting. You typically have several people to teach, and they all have their unique skills gaps and training needs.
As a result, you need to juggle between providing enough support for slower or less skilled learners and keeping more advanced learners engaged.
6. Effectiveness Dependant On The Instructor
Okay, the claim might be somewhat misleading. After all, there are natural learners who are hungry to learn and thrive regardless of how engaged they are.
But for the majority of us, that’s not the case. We need to be engaged and invested to continue the learning journey and ensure effective knowledge retention. This, in turn, emphasises the importance of your skills as an instructor.
In fact, the effectiveness of your whole training programme depends on these skills. And that brings us nicely to the next section!
What Makes a Good Instructor?
So, we have grasped that successful ILT lies in the hands of your instructors. As such, your training is only going to create the intended results if you choose the right facilitators.
Most instructors aren’t necessarily subject matter experts on all of the topics they teach. However, good instructors have various skills that help them to ensure their training is engaging, beneficial and relevant.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the skills and characteristics that make a good instructor.
1. Communication Skills
There’s a great deal of communication involved in order to deliver effective ILT sessions. As such, strong communication skills are essential for instructors to get their training across as intended.
Good communication skills also help you to spark a connection with your learners on a personal level. This, in turn, helps you to deliver better training experiences.
2. Leadership Skills
Essentially, you are leading the corporate training initiative. Good leadership skills enable you to manage the training session effectively and drive your learner audience toward success.
Strong leadership skills are especially useful when you deliver training to a larger audience. With strong leadership abilities, you can enhance the instructional quality of your training.
3. Giving and Receiving Feedback
Feedback plays a big role in the learning process. After all, it tells your learners how quickly they are progressing, what is going well and what they can improve.
But there is an art to providing feedback. You need to balance your positive and negative feedback carefully to maintain high motivation levels.
Similarly, great instructors are good at receiving feedback or constructive criticism. This is true, whether it’s about the training programme, content or their teaching style.
4. Public Speaking
Successful instructors aren’t afraid of the spotlight. In fact, some ILT sessions are delivered to an audience of hundreds of learners.
Public speaking skills, such as speaking slowly and articulating well, avoiding or explaining jargon, asking questions, encouraging involvement and using an appropriate tone of voice make a big difference. They drive up engagement rates and help create better learning outcomes.
5. Embracing Innovation
The L&D industry has seen lots of exciting innovations in recent years. For example, organisations are now leveraging tools like AI and immersive technology to boost their training programmes both offline and online.
Embracing innovation is a sure sign of a good instructor. You can promote critical thinking and an openness to adapt. Similarly, you can ensure your learners have the necessary tools and approaches to tackle their learning needs.
6. Using and Reading Body Language
Body language gives important clues in the learning process. And it goes both ways. After all, it helps your learners to understand what you are saying and you to comprehend your learners’ engagement levels.
Using your body language is an effective way to emphasise what you are teaching. Similarly, good instructors pay attention to their learners’ nonverbal cues. These cues help you to adapt your ILT session accordingly.
7. Ability to Adapt
As an instructor, no two days are the same. Especially in a corporate environment, where you will likely lead sessions on various topics and to different audiences. The same approach won’t work for each subject or group of learners.
Similarly, sometimes you will notice that your approach is not working as intended. In those situations, a good instructor is able to adapt as necessary. In fact, flexibility is one of the most important characteristics of successful instructors.
8. Knowledge of the L&D Industry
Even newbie instructors can get far by knowing the industry best practices, top research, key models and theories and different engagement approaches.
With this in mind, gaining and maintaining industry knowledge is essential. After all, this means you understand the principles of, for example, learner engagement, knowledge retention and instructional design.
How to Design An Instructor-Led Training Programme
1. Create an Outline and Objectives
When it comes to creating your learning objectives, make sure they’re specific. Strive to provide detail and clarity. For instance, follow the SMART rule.
To craft your objectives, look at any current knowledge gaps your students have. Your training needs analysis (TNA) will help you to identify what skills your learners need to improve.
Similarly, consider your budget for the training programme. This helps you to determine how many sessions you can devote to each topic and what is achievable.
2. Make Sure Training is Relevant
Once you have an outline for your ILT programme, you need to ensure it’s relevant to your audience. As such, make sure to ‘connect the dots’ as soon as you share information about the training course.
You should, for instance, answer the ‘WIIFM‘ question in your course description, and at the beginning of each training unit. WIIFM stands for ‘what’s in it for me’, and it highlights why the training is beneficial for your learners.
You can answer the question by, for example, sharing detailed course outcomes relating to different job roles, highlighting any networking opportunities or providing powerful statistics and benefit statements.
3. Consider the Learning Experience
Once you know what knowledge your learners need, you need to determine how you present it to your audience.
To create your lesson plan, here are some questions to consider:
- How many instructors are going to lead the training course?
- Do you have knowledge about the topic, or do you need to research or communicate with subject matter experts prior to the course?
- Where will the session take place, and when?
- Is your venue set up for group learning, or do you need to prepare it in advance?
- How will you present the training content?
- What media, visuals or activities are you going to use to keep learners engaged?
- What activities are you going to provide for learners to practise and apply their new knowledge?
- Will you, and your possible fellow instructors, need a microphone or any other equipment?
In addition, it’s essential to decide how you will put variety and personalisation into your training. After all, all learners have unique needs and preferences.
Providing a good balance between lectures and workshop-style learning helps you to keep learners active. In addition, using a variety of techniques, like role-playing, simulations, debates or games, also helps to cater to different learner preferences.
4. Create a Detailed Session Plan
Now that you have a good idea of what your training needs to cover and how you will deliver it, it’s time to create a detailed plan for each training session.
While each session plan looks different depending on your topic or audience, here is some guidance on what to include:
- Your wider learning goals and your objectives for the specific session.
- Any required session preparation.
- A list of the equipment you need to deliver training.
- Details of the materials and resources required, including handouts, visual aids, presentation slides, group session instructions and so on.
- An agenda that details the information you are going to cover, its format and order.
- How you are going to evaluate your learners’ progress.
- How you will give and receive feedback.
Instructor-led training, whether that’s online or in-person, still has its place in the L&D industry. After all, it’s a familiar approach to most of us and provides support and guidance throughout the learning experience.
However, its impact lies in the hands of the instructor. As such, you need to make sure that they have the support, skills and knowledge they need to run the classroom to its fullest potential.
Need help with crafting successful training programmes? Our L&D Professional’s Handbook arms you with 165 tips for success!