Despite the increased popularity of digital and blended learning, some corporate training still benefits from being delivered through face-to-face classroom sessions. Comprehensive research into skills training by the CIPD last year revealed that 13% of respondents undertook instructor-led off-the-job training over the past 12 months, with 88% finding it useful. Although this is fewer than those participating in online training (30%) or inhouse development programmes (23%), the satisfaction score is higher than inhouse (79%) and is on a par with online (89%).
Learning to lead
Some learning is better delivered in a digital format – for example compliance or IT training – but not everything can be delivered well remotely.
Ivan Moss, Director of MBA and Executive Education at the University Auckland[i], believes there are limits to what can be learnt online,”There are things that are un-Google able. Experience, failure, managing people and managing risk that leaves you quaking on the inside – those are un-Google able”. In a classroom, peers benefit from sharing their experience of management and leadership, and they learn from each other; while it is possible to undertake group work online it is rarely as effective.
The CIPD survey revealed some fascinating insights about what skills employees think they most need in the modern workplace. It’s interesting to note the top 3 most important skills (more than the basics of numeracy, literacy and IT) are planning and organisation, problem solving and communication.
These sorts of skillsare simply easier to assimilate in the classroom, where students can practise more nuanced skills and benefit from group work and feedback.
BiteSize training is delivered face-to-face in small effective doses
‘Bite-size’ refers to micro learning, breaking up content into small segments, and has increasingly been associated with on-demand digital courses.
For more than a decade BiteSize Learning has applied this concept to face-to-face learning, to deliver short, high-impact training when it most suits employers and their workplaces.
Leaders today are having to operate in more complex, uncertain situations. They need adaptable, current training that their staff can dip into, and which equips them with practical skills that they can use immediately.
BiteSize’s approach allows companies to build programmes of flexible training, selecting from over 40 courses deliverable in 1.5 or 2-hour sessions, or 60-minute lunchtime sessions.
“Short courses are an ideal solution to our business needs when addressing targeted knowledge gaps as it provides our staff with development opportunities which can be delivered quickly and flexibly, with limited disruption to the business whilst also providing our staff with a practical and effective learning outcome.”BiteSize Learning client Daiwa Capital Markets.
Learning in the age of distraction
While digital learning can be easily fitted around other tasks, there is the risk that learners become distracted as a result. Evidence from neuroscience suggests that multi-tasking drains energy reserves faster. “Switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel more tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing,” says Daniel Levitin, Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at McGill University[ii]. Furthermore, once interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task, according to research conducted by Gloria Mark at the University of California Irvine[iii].
So whilst there is no doubt that digital learning opens up accessibility, it may not always be cost effective. Classroom courses are specifically designed for the classroom – whereas digital courses are often adapted from classroom content, not always successfully so. According to US research[iv], students in community colleges who opted to take online courses had poorer outcomes in terms of completing, passing and obtaining high grades than peers taking classroom courses.
Time to unleash your team’s capabilities, quickly
Returning to the CIPD research, we were struck overall by the huge skills mismatch in today’s workplace. Nearly half of the 3,700 respondents believe their skills are poorly matched to their jobs, with 37% feeling over-skilled and 12% under-skilled.
Good management is about using the shared pool of time and skills available to best effect; so these findings beg the question: do managers understand their teams’ capabilities? Of course, the other side of this could be that employees don’t feel able to talk to their managers about other skills they could be utilising. If people are feeling passive in their roles, then this is not healthy for employees or business. That’s where short sharp bursts of training can really help shift the conversation on, and lead to swift, positive action.
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[ii] Daniel. J. LevitinThe Organized Mind: Thinking Strange in the Age of Information Overload 2014
[iii] (9) Gloria Mark, Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke The cost of interrupted work: more speed more stress
[iv] Cassandra M.D. Hart, Elizabeth Friedmann, and Michael Hill University of California, Davis, Online Course-taking and Student Outcomes in California Community Colleges, March 2016