Tip #566: Classroom Training is Still Tops

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”   Samuel Johnson

The Association for Talent Development recently published Instructional Design Now: A New Age of Learning and Beyond (March 2015).

What is interesting about this report is that it found that traditional classroom training is currently used by 92% of instructional designers.

I consider this finding both surprising and gratifying.

There are a number of reasons why this surprises me:

  1. There seems to be an ever increasing emphasis on the more technical learning modalities, such as: e-learning, mobile learning, social networking, web 2.0 applications, web-based learning, gamification, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  1. Every open training position (for instructional designers, training specialists and training managers) that I have seen has a specific requirement that applicants possess both experience and expertise with technical learning strategies.
  1. Most of the articles I see in training-oriented and business-oriented publications focus on high tech learning opportunities.
  1. Conversations on social media sites and online communities center around technology-based training.

For all of these reasons, I had been resigned to the fact that the predominant preference in the profession must be for technology rather than traditional classroom training.

And that is a world in which I do not fit.

I have previously written about my strong belief that classroom training is the only effective way to help participants learn and practice the soft skills they need to be successful in any job: communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal relations, to name a few.

I think that supervisors need this type of training and practice even more than employees, since supervision involves people management skills: interviewing, orienting, delegating, motivating, building teams, resolving conflict, managing performance, coaching, training, and evaluating, etc.

Therefore, the finding that classroom training is still preferred by 92% of instructional designers gratifies me. After reading two recent articles regarding the importance of soft skills over technical skills, I believe that companies will also soon be on board, if they are not already, in recognizing the importance of classroom training.

  1. The Business News Daily (March 23, 2015) reported that a study conducted by Instructure found that, when making new entry-level hires, managers are starting to focus more on soft skills, such as work ethic and attitude, than on hard trade skills.

By the way, Instructure is a software-as-a-service company, so it seems to me it is quite significant for them to report that a strong work ethic is more important than technical skills.

  1. An article from the Sidney Morning Herald (April 6, 2015) reported a study by a United Kingdom-based research firm that also confirmed that hiring managers highly value soft skills, such as communication and relationship building.

Surprisingly, the growing importance of soft skills may be directly related to the increasing reliance on technology!

Susan Ferrier, an Australian HR specialist, is quoted as saying: “Soft skills are the new hard skills, due to the Internet’s ability to store information.”

This reinforces a quote attributed to Albert Edison: “I don’t need to know everything; I just need to know where to find it, when I need it.”

As Ms. Ferrier adds: “Having big parts of your brain storing technical stuff is going to be less valuable in the world of the future. How you collaborate, solve problems creatively and authentically lead people will matter more.”

And because those are interpersonal skills, they are best learned and practiced in a classroom with other participants rather than alone in front of a computer!!

May your learning be sweet.


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