Web-based training has replaced instructor-led training in many organizations and for a good reason. The availability and ease of creating online training have fuelled this choice of learning and development across various learners and training professionals. However, the proverbial question remains; will web-based training replace instructor-led training entirely in the future? Let’s look at a few advantages of web-based training (WBT):
Learning centricity is at the core of WBT’s. There is no dearth of free and paid online courses and learners are opting for any-time learning via LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, EdEx, Lynda; just a few names that have revolutionized the learning space. Moreover, most online training courses can be accessed through laptops and cell phones. Most learners are hard-pressed for time, and this ease of accessing learning content on their commute to work or on weekends attracts them to WBT’s.
The second advantage of WBT’s is that they are self- paced, unlike instructor-led training, which is provided by instructors in a training room for a few hours/days at max. The learner has the onus of remembering and understanding everything he can in the few hours spent in training. How many of us go back to the trainer after the training to clear their doubts? Very few, I believe. With WBT’s the learner can go back and access the training material any number of times even when the training is over.
Most organizations do not operate from a single working location now. With organizations increasingly going global and having remote workers in various places, web-based training has become a way of connecting learners across branches and countries. In addition to that, WBT’s are also less expensive as compared to instructor-led training (ILT). Imagine the cost an organization would have to incur to fly an instructor to various branches/countries or to train faculty in multiple locations versus creating an interactive online course.
Shortcomings of WBT
Having said that the main shortcoming of WBT’s is the lack of human interaction or involvement. In classroom training participants get the opportunity to learn along with meaningful discussions, there is also a healthy competitive spirit that is seen among the participants, which seem to be lacking in WBT’s.
Is there a solution to this? I say, yes! The answer is virtual instructor-led training (VILT). This mode provides the best of both worlds. Learners log in using a webex or a video conference and become a part of an interactive and real-time learning session.
WBT, ILT or VILT: Which one to choose?
Whether an organization is going to use WBT/ILT/VILT should be decided on a few key parameters –the number of people who will be attending the session, if the number is huge and the reach expected is wide, then ILT may not be feasible. In that case, VILT or WBT can be used. Next, the type of training that needs to be delivered is also a critical consideration; if the content is repetitive or coding based WBT’s are the answer. However, learners will need more participative learning in sessions like leadership and listening skills. Demographic factors like age also become an important area of consideration; millennials prefer WBT’s, but the older generation may not be too comfortable with accessing online training.
The learning space is changing at breakneck speed with the advent of online training, simulations, and that means that the learning modes and content are in abundance. Organizations need to carefully analyze the training needs of their employees and their learning objectives to decide which mode will be best suited to them. However, there is no doubt that the world is moving towards a web-based training paradigm and embracing the mobile, self-paced, and cost-effective mode of learning.