Within the last thirty years, the landscape of training and development has been drastically changed by advances in both research and technology. Before, it was classroom training that has always been the standard when it comes to employee training techniques. The early ‘80s introduced approaches like hands-on learning, making employee learning and development more effective and relevant.
The early ‘90s then introduced new corporate training techniques such as interactive approaches that adapted learner-centricity into training and development programs. The 2000s then saw the dawn of tech-enabled staff training techniques like computer based training. Most recent advances in technology has now brought both online and blended learning into the picture.
With all the progress in both research and tech, a myriad of employee training techniques have been introduced to the learning professional’s repertoire of strategies. For this post, we’ll look at the different types of staff training techniques that learning professionals can employ to train and develop employees.
We’ll also include the different advantages and disadvantages of each and in which scenarios each approach can be best utilized.
1. Classroom Training
Classroom training, for the longest time, has been the standard for employee training techniques. Instructor-led training banks on the idea that learning is most effective when it is facilitated by a subject matter expert. It also greatly considers interaction between learner and facilitator as another way of learning effectively.
Classroom training is also the most employed of the corporate training techniques because it involves lower costs (if the instructor isn’t outsourced), easier deployment (a room is all that’s needed to hold the class), and ease in instructional design and implementation. The most common method of classroom training is a lecture.
Most of the time though, lectures also include presentation materials that use multimedia like slides, images, videos, and audio. Other methodologies are storytelling, conferences, and seminars.
Advantages of Classroom Training
One apparent advantage of classroom training is that the instructor’s knowledge and skill play a big part in its effectiveness. Therefore, having a knowledgeable instructor with top-notch presentation skills is the key to success of a classroom training program.
Another benefit of this approach is that a class can all get the same information since there’s only one source of direction – the instructor. There is less room for interpretation (or misinterpretation); evaluating knowledge is very straightforward through standardized testing.
Disadvantages of Classroom Training
Classroom training’s biggest advantage is also its greatest drawback. The quality of learning greatly depends on the instructor skill. While an instructor may be very knowledgeable on a subject matter, if they doesn’t have the adequate facilitation skills, knowledge transfer won’t be too effective.
There are also times when classroom training sessions aren’t interactive at all – like a seminar or a conference, for example. These staff training techniques give limited opportunities for a speaker to interact with learners because most of the allotted time is spent imparting knowledge rather than discourse.
When is classroom training most effective?
As mentioned above, classroom training is most effective when the instructor is an expert. It is also most effective when transferring purely theoretical concepts within a very short amount of time.
These are the reasons why classroom training is one of the preferred employee training techniques in both the education sector and in staff development – particularly in tackling company processes and regulations.
2. Interactive Approaches
Interactive approaches take classroom training a few steps further. While interactive methods are still dependent on an instructor, they involve the learner as an active participant in their own learning. To add, in some instances, the instructor doesn’t even have to be a subject matter expert, but rather takes on the role of a facilitator.
Interactive methods, as a part of employee training techniques, are learner-centric. These strategies focus on the importance of how the learner processes and retains learning by being actively engaged through collaborative learning activities.
Some interactive activities include brainstorming, workshops, group discussions, case studies, simulations, and Q&A sessions.
Advantages of Interactive Methods
The best benefit of interactive methods is that learners are actively engaged throughout the learning process. The integration of interactive and collaborative corporate training techniques results in better retention; and in turn, better skill development.
Moreover, interactive approaches also put the learner in charge of learning – being able to learn from fellow learners aside from the knowledge imparted by the instructor.
These employee training techniques also introduce new perspectives into the topic. Since collaboration is one of the foundations of interactive learning, learners are actually encouraged to share their opinions, experiences, and interpretations of the subject matter.
Additionally, and more importantly, interactive approaches make learning more fun and engaging; thus, more motivating for the learners.
Disadvantages of Interactive Methods
Giving the participants more control over their learning can take up a significant amount of time. As compared to a traditional classroom approach, facilitating group dynamics can take up more time and effort in terms of preparation, instructional design, and execution.
Another disadvantage of interactive staff training techniques is that the facilitator needs to ensure that the entire topic gets covered during the session. Not only that, the instructor also has to be skilled in classroom management to keep the activities and discussions within the scope of the topic.
When is interactive learning most effective?
Interactive learning methods work best for adult learners. These employee training techniques are designed to draw out knowledge, experiences, and interpretations from the learners. Participants who are experts or are experienced in their own disciplines can give more insights to a topic than a single instructor can.
Interactive approaches are also the best choice when developing skills that aren’t technical – communication, soft skills, customer service skills, and sales skills are some examples. Interactive learning can also be used in collaborative problem solving like brainstorming, strategic planning, and group case studies.
3. Computer-Based Learning / Training (CBL or CBTs)
The earliest iteration of eLearning, computer-based training, is one of the first employee training techniques that introduced technology into the learning realm. Devised during the late 90s, computer-based training has changed the entire learning landscape by utilizing modern technology as a medium for instruction.
The usual CBL comes in prepackaged modules (on CDs and DVDs, for example) that have multimedia learning materials consisting of text, audio, and videos; and more recently – virtual reality.
Advantages of Computer-Based Learning
The best benefit of CBL is its ease of use. It can be customized as needed and can be deployed to a large number of employees in a very short amount of time.
Furthermore, corporate training techniques that utilize CBLs also allow the employee to learn at their own pace, making the sessions more effective, resulting in improved retention and better skill development.
Disadvantages of Computer-Based Learning
Since CBL modules are prepackaged, these usually come in large file sizes; and the usual way of accessing the lessons are through a computer. Another big disadvantage of computer-based staff training techniques is that lessons aren’t that interactive, since the only parties involved are the learner and the computer.
There is also no interactive mechanism between the author and the learner; therefore, no feedback is provided to both parties.
When is computer-based learning most effective?
Like classroom training, CBTs can also be utilized for topics that purely require knowledge transfer. Computer based learning is also utilized to its fullest when employee work is highly dependent on a computer; for the most part due to the learner’s familiarity with the medium.
CBTs are also one of the most effective employee training techniques for teaching technical skills such as system navigation, programming, and introducing learners to machinery / tool operation.
That’s Part 1, stay tuned
The learning and development industry has never been more dynamic than it is today. With technology also being tapped for its benefits, we might expect this trend to escalate and the industry to be even livelier in the years to come.
Knowing this, learning professionals today need to be better informed and trained, especially on the most recent employee training techniques.