The abrupt cancellation of corporate classroom training sessions in response to the pandemic sweeping our country and the world was shocking to those of us in the learning and development field.
Until March 2020, classroom training accounted for about 30-40% of learning experiences offered to employees. Although virtual and online training have made significant inroads into the overall corporate training mix over the years, the classroom has continued to be a preferred learning methodology for many types of employee development experiences.
Organizations immediately began seeking out virtual delivery options. A very recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity reported that 9 out of 10 companies surveyed say that they have increased their use of virtual training significantly (60%) or “somewhat” (30%).
For now, formerly classroom-based training sessions are being conducted virtually by a remote facilitator and attended by multiple learners. They are taking place on platforms like Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEx and others. This will fill the gap along with online asynchronous programs that employees can access on their own in a self-directed, self-paced way.
Each of these learning methodologies has unique advantages. Virtual and online learning approaches are being employed with greater and greater degrees of professionalism, engagement and success. Use of these methodologies will continue to be an important part of the training mix.
At some point, however, classroom training for many audiences and in many content areas will return since it has several of its own important advantages:
There are generally fewer distractions in a classroom learning environment – no phones ringing, emails pinging or temptations to work on other things. Learners can more fully and easily focus their attention on the content, the facilitator, and other learners.
It’s easier to get to know other learners in a classroom setting. These learning peers often provide insights that add to the learning content and context. They may also become friends and colleagues beyond the classroom, serving to break down barriers to inter-organizational communication.
In the classroom, good instructors are able to read body language. They may notice a lack of engagement or identify problems that individuals or groups are having with the content. With this insight, they can flex their approach or even offer valuable one-on-one coaching.
Especially when learning something new or difficult, learners want to know that their learning environment is a confidential one where they don’t have to worry about what they don’t know. Building a relationship with the instructor and other learners in a live setting goes a long way toward ensuring this kind of safe environment.
When a learning subject requires high levels of discussion and/or practice, the classroom is generally the best place to make sure that can happen.
There will no doubt be changes to the learning environment when employees return to the classroom. But they will return because learning professionals will want to ensure that they are employing the right learning methodology for the right content with the right audiences. Classrooms are an important part of this mix.
Whether you’re planning your classroom to be in-person or virtual, we have adapted our solutions to fit the needs of learners worldwide. Find out more and explore our solutions here!