Instructor-Led Training vs Self-Paced Learning: Pros & Cons

Instructor-Led v Self-Paced Learning: Pros & Cons

One of the first decisions an organization has to make about training is the format: instructor-led, or self-paced? Obviously, cost is a major determining factor, but what else needs to be considered?

Typically, self-paced learning experiences can be rolled out quickly to large groups of people all over the world. Instructor-led training, on the other hand, is necessarily limited in both group size and roll-out speed.

An employee who is out sick the day of an instructor-led training misses the program and must be re-taught – often at great additional expense, and not without its share of logistical headaches. But self-paced learning affords employees opportunities to take the training when they can – and to go back and review parts of it as necessary.

Another disadvantage of instructor-led training: the skills taught may not be put into practice for weeks – or even months. When it comes time to actually use what they’ve learned, employees may not remember everything the instructor said. And the class may be different every time it’s presented – meaning employees may not have a consistent training experience.

A great facilitator, however, can share material in such a way that users actually go through the experience of using what they’re learning – essentially creating an experiential training that sticks with users. Follow-up with the instructor, too, can be – if not priceless, then at least extremely valuable – for employees and companies.

But of course, that great facilitator comes at a price. A top-tier instructor can command few tens of thousands of dollars for a day training, when you figure in preparation, travel, and other expenses. You can spend a lot on online course development, too – but it’s not a necessity.

An instructor-led training can be quickly and easily revised. The instructor can quickly check that everyone in the room understands what’s being taught – but you can only train the people you have in the room.

If you hire a custom course developer, changing your course may be difficult – or prohibitively expensive. But a modular solution may offer the level of customization you need at the right price point – with built-in, on-the-fly flexibility.

What’s the most effective training you’ve attended? Which solutions give your organization the most value?

Image by Sarah Stewart.

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About Abbi Perets
Freelance writer. Mom of five kids. Usually tired. Always craving coffee.

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