Navigating the world of training delivery can be confusing in today’s environment. Do you bring everybody in for a class? Build some e-learning? Deliver the information via a mobile app?

The reality is there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your best solution depends on who your learners are, when they will need the information most and what resources you have available. Here are some guidelines to help you make the best decision.

You’ve probably heard the statistic that learners only retain 10 percent of the information delivered through live training. While that number can prove true for a “death by PowerPoint” class, it can also be dead wrong for a well-designed live interaction. When we say “well-designed,” we mean a consistent, well-constructed workshop environment in which learners can practice and learn from each other. The facilitator plays the role of “sage on the side,” not “sage on the stage.” You can create this type of environment virtually with any number of tools, but here are some guidelines for when to consider the live medium.

Consider live training when:

  • Information is complex and requires developing cognitive skills.
  • The skill is a core competency that may impact multiple areas of performance.
  • The students can easily attend.
  • The benefit of the training far outweighs any potential cost.
  • You have experienced and/or engaging facilitators.
  • You have an environment where learners can concentrate on the target material.

Why live training often fails:

  • It has a poor design or is delivered as a presentation instead of a workshop, delivery is inconsistent, or there is inadequate learner collateral.
  • The training doesn’t impact performance; it’s not cost effective.
  • It’s inaccessible; the schedule and location don’t consider the learners’ obligations.
  • The facilitator is inexperienced, has insufficient guidance or is unprepared.
  • The information is inconsistent; it depends on the facilitator or contradicts other learning interactions.

Computer-based training (CBT), as it used to be called, looks radically different today from even just four or five years ago. The ability to design and develop interactive online environments has drastically improved while development costs have decreased.

Design is the most critical component of any online interaction. While technology tools have made development easier, design is the key to success. Just as with live training, you will experience higher rates of success if you start with who your learner is and what you’d like the results to be. Here are some guidelines to help you in the design process.

Consider classic e-learning (PC/mobile) when:

  • The learners have the technology to easily access the information.
  • The learners are spread out over a wide geographic area.
  • The information needs to be translated into multiple languages.
  • The learners need to easily access the information at the moment of need.
  • There is a learning plan to build a knowledge base.
  • The interaction models behavior and allows for practice in a safe environment.
  • The information needs to be available 24/7 year-round.
  • The information won’t change often or can easily be updated.
  • The learners’ progress needs to be tracked to determine ROI.

Consider mobile or just-in-time training when:

  • There is a wealth of information to develop over time to support learners on the job.
  • The training interaction can be integrated into the learners’ workflow.
  • Learners need reinforcement of information they learned in a more formal environment.
  • The training is an update or change to a previously learned process.
  • The learners will likely need “hints” until they’ve mastered the knowledge, skill or ability.
  • The device will not detract from performance.

Consider AR/VR or performance support solutions when:

  • Learners must master a myriad of processes or procedures to be successful in the field.
  • Scenarios and responses are predictable and consistent.
  • Virtual guides will drastically improve performance.

Why online solutions often fail:

  • The learners can’t access or find the information at the moment of need.
  • The design detracts from the result, diminishing the value for the learners.
  • The learners receive no recognition for their progress or accomplishments.

Which choice is best for you?

Let your learner and your desired results guide you. It’s not rocket science, but it’s easy to do wrong. Involve your learners in the process early, and share results throughout the initiative. Remember, there are very few people who wake up hoping to do a poor job at work. It’s your job to ensure employees have the right tools for success.