Two years ago, CLOs reported for the first time that self-paced and instructor-led e-learning courses were used more often than classroom-based instruction content and tools continue to evolve. Classroom-based training is still quite common for many content areas and covering far more learners. However, e-learning has its advocates who describe scenarios or situations where e-learning – either instructor led or self-paced – is a more effective option.
Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Business Intelligence Board research has shown a steady increase in the use of self-paced and instructor led e-learning, and the generally sophisticated choices CLOs make. This year’s research shows e-learning overall is used more often than classroom training. And instructor-led training remains the common form of form of instruction.
CLOs shift their learning delivery based on audience and content and a small increase in synchronous e-learning or instructor-led e-learning.
Every other month, IDC administers a web-based survey to the Business Intelligence Board on a variety of topics to gauge the issues, opportunities and attitudes that make up the diverse role of a senior training executive. This month we look into the appropriate mix of learning delivery.
The Current Mix Continues to Shift
Last year, CLOs reported using slightly less synchronous and asynchronous e-learning than classroom based training, consistent with several years of slow gains and small retreats for both forms of e-learning. This year classroom training was slightly lower than the combined e-learning offerings, again suggesting the CLOs are choosing methods that work for their initiatives.
Overall, results show a decline in classroom-based training since 2010 and a slow but inconsistent increase in synchronous and asynchronous e-learning. The long-term decreased emphasis of classroom training suggests CLOs accept the convenience, viability and quality of other modalities (Figure 1).
CLOs adjust their use of various modalities because of effectiveness, but convenience and cost play a major role. When organizations increased their use of classroom-based instruction, CLOs based their decision on effectiveness. On the other hand, when organizations reduced their classroom-based instructor-led training they most often based that decision on cost. The combination of cost and value of the student/teacher interaction consistently drove the increased use of instructor-led (synchronous) e-learning.
This coming year, CLOs expect classroom-based instructor-led training to represent a declining portion of the delivery portfolio primarily because of cost. Both synchronous and asynchronous e-learning will continue to gain portfolio share in reaction to continued pressure on training and development budgets, and the greater flexibility in scheduling and delivery.
CLOs are also expressing an increased interest in video-based instruction. Thanks to the near ubiquitous availability of video-on-demand services and sufficient bandwidth to ensure a high quality learner experience. Some of the interest in video also comes from peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.
Matching Modality to Message
CLOs and their staffs adapt the right delivery option for the content, audience and environment. One way the message can be defined broadly is by content type: Business skills courses or IT content. More CLOs describe classroom-based instructor led training, C-ILT, as the primary delivery modality for business skills training (37 percent) than describe C-ILT as primary for IT skills training (24 percent) (Figure 2). Business skills courses generally lend themselves to face-to-face experiences with instructors and peers. E-learning, however, is consistently seen as appropriate to deliver IT skills content. About 44 percent of the enterprises select at least one form of e-learning as the primary delivery method for IT skills training compared to 35 percent who selected it as their primary modality for business skills training. In 2010, only 15 percent of CLOs considered e-learning a “primary” delivery modality for business skills.
For new-hire training, the preference for C-ILT also remains strong but declining (34 percent of CLOs describe C-ILT as the primary modality of new-hire training, down from 47 percent in 2014). Compliance training is the only business skill content domain where C-ILT is not considered the primary delivery modality. With compliance training, most enterprises prefer self-paced elearning (58 percent) to C-ILT (12 percent) – the same distribution as last year.
In spite of continued emphasis on social media to support learning, the most significant types of informal learning aren’t technology based at all. On-the-job experiences, mentoring, and discussions and networking with other professionals are very traditional, low-tech forms of instruction and are considered among the most important forms of informal learning.
It’s About Consumption
The most dramatic finding of this year’s survey is the increase in the amount of training delivered to mobile devices in 2016, which is increasing significantly over 2015 (Figure 3). One out of every three CLOs delivers compliance training to mobile/smart devices. About that same percentage deliver technical skills training to mobile devices.
Some CLOs are anticipating a broad shift in their responsibilities in corporate education – shifting from content creation and delivery to a greater role in identifying appropriate informational and instructional material and making it conveniently available to the relevant populations. With that shift comes and increased focus on ensuring content gets consumed. One CLO suggested the changing workforce might require a change in delivery priorities: “Adjusting methods and delivery to align with changing demographics as we expect continued rapid increase among millennials in the next five years.”
Not every training program will shift to e-learning delivery, but if it makes sense for the message and the audience, the delivery medium will shift toward convenience. Trends suggest that e-learning, mobile and video learning will continue to be a bigger part of the mix.
Cushing Anderson is program director for learning services at market intelligence firm IDC. To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.