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The Death of a Trainer


There is so much being spoken about the shift from traditional trainer-led classroom training to wherever possible replacing it with e-learning and other web-based training methods.

When it comes to a trainer’s business, it is certainly worth exploring, as these developments put the traditional trainer’s business at risk. The traditional training market is worth £10-£20 billion in the UK alone; whilst e-learning is still a fraction of that – but we cannot ignore that the gap is narrowing fast!

The shift is partly due to the severe economic downturn; though in truth that has been the catalyst. The public sector as an example, is being so abruptly starved of resources and money, they are being forced to urgently carry out time shrinking, money-saving alternatives in all aspects of the business, irrespective if they work or not, and on the face of it e-learning ticks the boxes.

In so many cases e-learning is not working. Not because there is anything wrong with the content, or the system, but because of two points 1. It requires engagement of the learner, and 2. It is not the answer for all types of learning.

There is of course a longer term need to change the face of learning to be more aligned with the new world we are all beginning to embrace. That is a world that knows no boundaries; where technological changes mean we can work, rest and play from anywhere in the world on an equal footing. This means the way businesses do business has changed forever; and it changes the way staff in those businesses work and learn. The greatest challenge for learning professionals is getting the blend of learning right in terms of the learner’s experience, and in productive, measurable output.

Web-based trainer-led sessions

Web-based training, with the support of a remote trainer uses the Internet for delivery of training content and allows remote learners to use to information anywhere and anytime from any device. They often collaborate and share ideas via e-mail and are able to correspond with the trainer for clarification of concepts. Group discussions can be mediated by the trainer and facilitated in real-time via chat services. Online training allows instructors to individualise learning, rather that delivering information to an audience. Of course in this instance, each learner is interacting with their computer, and are not physically present in a group – which for certain types of learning (like transformational / soft skills) is essential (back to this in a moment).

So overall, web-based training is more affordable than traditional trainer-led classroom training, but not as cheap as e-learning.

In the cold light of day, to the financial director, classroom training is a very costly business that requires highly paid trainers, time out of the business and back resourcing. As business becomes increasingly manic, driving no-shows to become more common, the race for more workable and sustainable alternatives is on.

As trainers we need to explore where we fit in to the future blended learning landscape. The classroom is not obsolete, and in many cases it is still one of the most effective training methods available; primarily because we learn more effectively in groups. The ideal classroom experience however, should be preceded by successful completion of a web-based programme of study to introduce the material, so that everyone will be prepared for full participation and no one slows down the rest of the class.

Any classroom training experience should be enjoyable and productive. The traditional classroom of more information provision will be abandoned in favour of more conceptual based learning, provided through experiential activities, with very little or even no lectures.

This shift from information to conceptualised learning and from traditional classroom to web-based learning begins to put the onus of the responsibility for learning squarely on the shoulders of the learner. The more this culture is embedded, the more it changes the role of the traditional trainer, and the traditional trainer’s business, so we must be willing to change with it.

The evolution to web-based group training

At Café Style we only design conceptual training programmes and activities. Though this is not traditional training, it can and does take place in groups, and often in a classroom (although it is more informal). Our research has led us down a new path of the virtual classroom to combine the critical need for group based training that is proven to be so much more effective, with the business need for bite-size chunks of learning, and the drive to save money on travel by utilising the key benefits of the web.

The result – we are now conducting training live and virtually, but with groups. This requires all the skills of great classroom training and much more besides, as we are not there in the room with the group.

Virtual Café Style trainers – the world is just one big classroom!

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We can conduct Café Style activities with a group through the use of web-cams, and for bigger groups through live stream technologies, anywhere in the world, one group at a time, or on mass!

Exploring how traditional training consultants can leverage the wonders of the web and new conceptual methods of training, like Café Style is essential for any traditional training consultant. Technology may be slowly reducing the need for the traditional classroom, but it does not have to extinguish the traditional classroom trainer.

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