Training Methods

Training MethodsTraining is a great way to educate employees, customers, and partners about your company’s products, processes, and software applications. The subject matter, the training environment, and the learning styles of the target audience must all be taken into consideration, along with other resources and constraints, such as budget and availability of live trainers.

Fortunately, there are many training methods and course formats, each offering different advantages and limitations.

The challenge is to understand what training methods work best in your specific learning situation.

Instructor-Led Training (ILT)

The most traditional type of instruction is in-person, face-to-face classroom training, led by a trainer who relies on lecture followed by test questions to ensure competency. However, in recent years, training professionals have used technology to integrate more opportunities for interaction, including discussions, problem solving tasks, case studies, and hands-on practice. Learners are immersed in the training experience as they are asked not only to absorb, but also to perform, along with trainers who may or may not be experts in the subject matter. As a result, this type of training is typically referred to as “Instructor-Led” or even “Facilitator-Led Training.”

Face-to-face, synchronous training is recommended for training engagements that require a high amount of trainer/trainee interaction—for example: complex procedures that require on-site demonstration and practice, abstract skills that benefit from immediate feedback and discussion, or new hire training designed to build a team.

As with all methods, there are benefits and challenges to accomplishing instructor-led training.


eLearning provides on-demand training to any location using an electronic interface. With the right planning, and an interactive and engaging design, it can be just as effective as face-to-face training. eLearning is a great option for learners in multiple locations with busy schedules, content that learners will need to access frequently, and information that does not need frequent updating.

Multiple development tools and digital teaching devices are available for use with eLearning, such as animations, audio voiceover explanations, activities that require the user to make decisions and receive feedback, and embedded videos. Even though it can be a larger investment than other types of training (like classroom training), eLearning pays off over time as you can train learners anytime, anyplace.

As with all methods, there are benefits and challenges to accomplishing eLearning.

Structured On-the-Job Training (OJT)

In general, most on-the-job training (OJT) is unstructured and can produce inconsistent results. Learners receive different levels of training based on the trainer, the questions the learner asks, the number of distractions, and the current company environment. However, by implementing structured OJT with training guides, job aids, assessments, and other concrete materials, you can achieve more consistent results and better-trained employees.

OJT is especially effective for companies that need to ramp up new team members quickly and who have strong trainers to teach new employees. OJT gives learners an opportunity to observe their trainers in their regular work environment, which yields powerful training results.

As with all methods, there are benefits and challenges to accomplishing OJT.

Self-Paced Training

With self-paced training, learners receive a training manual that they read and work through on their own to learn about a specific topic. Learners answer questions throughout each topic to help them consider and apply the concepts, and then complete a series of questions at the end of each section to validate knowledge.

This training style can be effective for material that learners need to reference frequently and for fairly straightforward procedures. This method is particularly effective when combined with other types of training. Learners can read through the material, and practice the procedures directly in their work environments at their own pace.

As with all methods, there are benefits and challenges to accomplishing self-paced training.

Distance Learning

Learners and facilitators in different locations connect over the Internet in live sessions—this is distance learning. Distance learning combines the personal interaction of classroom training with the convenience of eLearning, making it an excellent option when learners are in different locations, but need immediate feedback and live explanations.

Although it does not provide the same level of personal interaction as classroom training, distance learning does allow for discussion, group work, and synchronous feedback, combining many of the benefits of classroom training and eLearning.

As with all methods, there are benefits and challenges to accomplishing distance learning.

Your content, your audience, your company environment, and your resources weigh into the decision to use one training method over another. The key to choosing the most effective training is careful consideration of these factors, with input from multiple stakeholders, and an experienced training development partner to incorporate your ideas into polished training deliverables.

Contact us for more information.