What’s the Long-Term Alternative to ILT?

A headshot of Nyla Reed

Nyla Reed

Nyla Reed is a Founding Partner of Educe, by way of a merger with the firm she founded in…

This post was co-authored by Ben Willis, Vice President of Strategy for Inkling

In the first half of 2020, organizations were forced to react to unprecedented global conditions to ensure business continuity. For the learning function, this necessitated a quick transition from instructor-led training (ILT) and on-the-job training (OJT) to a heavier reliance on self-directed learning. While this was a big lift for companies that had already adopted virtual learning tools, the curve was even greater for organizations lacking a culture of self-paced and remote learning. We saw classroom training replaced with Zoom sessions, distribution of PowerPoint presentations and PDFs to support self-directed learning, and—where resources were available—rapid development of web-based training. These tactics served what was a very unexpected and pressing need, but they are not a sustainable long-term approach.

As we look to the next half of the year, it is time to put together a more measured strategy to provide a long-term alternative to ILT, up your content game, and empower your subject matter experts. Here are four ways that organizations can accomplish these goals:

• Blended Learning – Employ a combination of virtual classroom training, self-paced modules, and on-demand resources to convert traditional ILT. This approach supports self-directed learning while including valuable touchpoints for interaction with instructors and subject matter experts. When planning out delivery, keep in mind that while you may have been able to accomplish traditional classroom training in two days, virtual classroom segments should be kept shorter and your learners will be completing self-paced modules on their own schedules. Even though the training hours may be the same, more calendar time needs to be allocated to complete the curriculum.

• Interactive Content – While PowerPoint and PDFs may be fine in a pinch, providing more interactive content not only makes learning more engaging, it also makes it more memorable. When you no longer have the advantage of meeting face-to-face with your learners, it is critical that your content encourages better connectivity. PowerPoint, PDF, and other forms of traditional content are inherently limited. Their static, flat nature restricts user interaction to page turning and scrolling, which in turn hampers the ability to achieve learning objectives. Modern content allows for true interactivity by leveraging flip cards, image carousels, videos, interactive quizzes, and other tools that encourage engagement.

• Deployment Process – Training requests often come at the last minute with little time to react and lots of pressure to produce. Documenting guidelines for which learning approaches should be used for what situations will provide predictability and help funnel requests to the right person or team to respond. Employing a tool that empowers your subject matter experts to deploy content more quickly and in a consistent manner will also lessen the timeline from training request to training launch. Content published to SCORM packages, for example, can be difficult to quickly update and distribute across the entire organization as specific resources need to be engaged to perform the work. And worse, it can become quickly outdated.

• Single Source – Confusion occurs when there are multiple ways to access training and it is unclear how to determine the current version. In fast-paced industries, PDFs quickly become outdated yet continue to float around and get used. Establish a single source of truth for your mission critical content that your employees can easily access, and be assured the information they find is current by utilizing a publishing tool that enables easy updating and replacement.

Creating a training development strategy that strengthens the success of remote work is just one step in supporting learning journeys for your employees in the new normal and beyond. It is also important to embed this strategy in your overall learning ecosystem and create a seamless user experience for your learners. More broadly, it requires a mind shift from creating learning to enabling performance and business agility through the development of performance support materials and programs. Join us at Inkling Illuminate 2020, where we will be delivering a session on reinventing learning and sharing our thoughts on where the mind shift begins.


Ben Willis, Inkling

Ben Willis is the Vice President of Strategy for Inkling. Ben has extensive experience in professional services and product strategy and a strong record of innovative product design & delivery. Previously, he was VP of Products at Saba Software and Principal Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He has worked with clients in a broad range of industries on projects ranging in scope from departmental efforts to multi-national initiatives impacting several hundred thousand users globally and regularly speaks at industry conferences.

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