Is classroom training dead?

090617-N-9610C-029If you listen to the chatter in online learning and development communities, it would seem that workplace classroom training is a thing of the past. It’s usefulness has increasingly diminished with the widespread availability of informal, social, and ad hoc learning opportunities. As “learning professionals,” we talk about scaffolding experiences, mentoring programs, and ways to embrace informal learning in the workplace.

At our professional conferences, there are virtually no sessions on how to be a better in-room learning facilitator, or how to craft more effective classroom activities for the workplace. I don’t know if such sessions aren’t accepted by conference organizers or simply not proposed. And yet when I talk with people at those conferences, many of them sheepishly admit their predominant training methods remain classroom and live online training.

Perhaps more interesting is that a recent survey of employees indicated a strong preference for live classroom training. Most cited a need to escape the distractions of the busy workplace. Many also highlighted the social activities connected with classrooms: meeting colleagues and making new connections. Others said they appreciate meeting instructors, many of whom are experts in their respective fields.

Now I’m not suggesting a return to the practice of using classroom training as the response to every performance gap. I remain firmly committed to the tenets of the 70:20:10 framework. But I do wonder if we’ve spent too much time focusing on how to revolutionize our approach to meeting those gaps and not enough time on demonstrating how to evolve traditional workplace approaches into something more effective and longer lasting.

What do you think? Should classroom training be eliminated in the workplace, or is there a time and place when it’s perfectly appropriate? How can we help our colleagues make those classroom activities more effective? Is there a way to envision an “ideal” future state and architect a plan to evolve current state to get there? Join #Chat2lrn this Thursday at 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST and let’s chat about it!

Posted by chat2lrn crew member Tom Spiglanin

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Making the most of Performance Support

This week’s post is written by Judith Christian-Carter, crew member of #chat2lrn

Performance Support

Many pundits would agree that Performance Support is witnessing something of a renaissance. After all, it’s been around for a long time (aka coaching and mentoring), so what’s really new?

The answer probably lies in the convergence of two major forces:

  1. how many organisations are now seeing L&D, how it’s practiced and how it gets done; and
  2. the continuing rise of technology and its increasing use in allowing organisations, and the people that work within them, to work and learn in very different ways to those prevalent in the late 20th Century.

Then, today, there is the curse of information that really highlights the need for performance support, such as:

  • information overload (too much information for people to organise, synthesise, draw conclusions from, act upon)
  • information underload (insufficient information upon which to act confidently)
  • information scatter (required information is in different locations and therefore can easily be overlooked)
  • information conflict (information is duplicated and different, and difficult to trust and easy to ignore)
  • erroneous information (information is downright wrong so if used could lead to varying degrees of failure).

Assuming you are on the performance support boat or are thinking of boarding it, just how do you/can you get the most of it? For example, do you/can you use the five cascading levels of performance support to address all instances of learning need (Conrad Gottfredson, Bob Mosher, 2012) and if so how? i.e.:

  1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New)
  2. When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned (More)
  3. When people need to act on what they have learned, eg planning what to do, remembering what they have forgotten, adapting their performance to a different situation (Apply)
  4. When problems arise, items break or don’t work as intended (Solve)
  5. When people need to learn a new way of doing something, which requires them to change skills that are deeply ingrained in their current performance (Change)

So, how do you or can you use performance support in your role? Is performance support embedded into your organisation’s infrastructure and workflow processes? If not, should it be and how could it be? Is it a whole organisation ‘thing’ and not just a L&D one and, if not, why not?

Join in the debate and discuss these and other questions on 8th May 2014.

For more ideas, examples, etc. see: