In our recent blog How to Maximize Blended Learning, we emphasized how blended learning can be transformational for business efficiency and productivity. Moving beyond focusing on mixing eLearning and the traditional face-to-face setting, blended learning can be fully distance learning to meet the needs and limitations (in time or cost) of an organization.
New methods and technologies have surely paved the way for learners to receive personalized and guided training with less live support, such as through a wide selection of training paths based on different objectives, and a thoughtfully curated and categorized library of learning materials. But what makes distance learning programs, especially long-term ones, more effective is the presence of live instruction and interaction, even through a digital medium.
Although live trainers no longer play the central role to this new model, they do play a key role in ensuring that learners understand and retain information and skills from their self-study course materials. Limitations of traditional face-to-face training, such as the requirement of learners to be physically present in a particular timeslot, can hinder them from engaging. Distance trainers work around these limitations and provide more flexibility, especially for busy professionals
Let’s take a look at how live trainers add value to the learning experience:
Live trainers are experts in relations.
Technology may be more efficient at delivering lessons, but live trainers are better at relating to learners as humans. According to Coursera president and co-founder Daphne Koller in her interview with Recode, “People are social animals—they like to learn from people.”
Live trainers can more effectively engage learners in a conversation that further educates them in topics that are relevant to their objectives. Live trainers are also able to draw from different experiences and tailor their explanations for learners that might have become stuck in their learning paths or confused about certain topics. They can also more easily adapt to the learner’s communication style, and create a more personalized learning experience, ensuring training is both engaging and relevant for the learner.
They provide tailored direction and facilitation.
Although self-study learning courses already provide learners with some direction, live trainers are better able to spot areas of improvement or difficulties, and give learners personalized support where necessary. Live trainers can analyze timelines for progress and adjust lesson plans to fully serve the learner’s needs. Live trainers can also keep learners from getting side-tracked and help them focus on their objectives.
They help learners gain a deeper understanding of course materials
As subject matter experts who can help fill in gaps within course materials, live trainers maximize the impact of the training for the learner. Self-study resources may leave learners wanting to know more about any particular topic. Having a live trainer gives them the opportunity to exchange ideas or ask questions that will further their understanding. Live trainers can also supplement materials, which may be lacking in the the course, to aid the learner in gaining more knowledge about what they’re interested in or need to know.
They inspire and motivate learners through live feedback and encouragement.
As knowledgeable people who learners can look up to, live trainers are capable of inspiring and empowering learners so that they can achieve their educational goals. As Koller explains in the interview with Recode, “People will tell you that one of the most inspirational experiences they’ve had, that have often shaped their life, is someone who’s been a really inspirational teacher.”
Technologies may be evolving to minimize the need of a live trainer in corporate training, but it won’t make them obsolete. Certainly not, especially if you want to maximize the impact of your training programs.