Is classroom learning still effective in today’s workplace?
Recently I have been creating a lot of digital content for my staff in work. I find it works great, staff can go through the content at there own pace in their own time. Then one day somebody said they had not been in a classroom session with me for a while. They missed me. So, I went back to my desk, before I went back on Facebook, a thought hit me. Is classroom learning still effective? And if so, is it still effective in the workplace?
Over the next few weeks I let the e-learning continue but I started planning a classroom session.
Before we decide ‘is classroom learning still effective’ let us take a quick look at the rise of technology and E-learning.
E-learning has been around for some time now. But it has taken a massive uptake in the last 10 years or so. We have sites like Udemy.com and Lynda.com where you can learn anything from PowerPoint to photography. Or you can get something a little more intensive such as a degree from the Open University.
You can learn anything at your own pace, in your own time. You can do it before work, after work or even on your commute to work.
Even for a company it works well. It allows you to create content that has 24/7 accessibility. You no longer need to worry about training night staff ad day staff. It also allows you to train anybody within your company, no matter which country they are in.
It can be more cost effective. A trainer only needs to create material once and then send it out to everybody. Where as in a classroom you must rent a room, pay a trainer and incur any other costs such as pintables’, stationary etc. You can also get your message out there much faster. When I do e-learning in work, I can get any message across to my agents within hours. But if I am doing a classroom session, it can take days even weeks to get the message out to everybody.
Technology in a learning world
There is no doubt that technology has become such an important factor in everything that we do today. We manage and monitor our fitness from a small band on our wrists. You can find fridges that let us know when we need milk. We rely on technology more then ever now.
But how has it shaped the classroom.
PowerPoint was first released back in 1987 (celebrate 30 years of PowerPoint with us). Back then we did not use laptops, computers or iPads to carry out training. We had projectors projecting from transparent paper. Since then we have seen computers improve massively. Instead of bits of ram they now have Giga bytes of ram. Storage comes in terabytes. CD drives have disappeared. We now rely on the cloud.
These changes have made it so that learning in the classroom has become easier. We can no present our smartphone screens into a wall. We take notes and annotate a session from our phones. Pen and paper is becoming non-existent. But technology has also brought challenges. We rely so much on our laptops and internet connections that when the Wi-Fi goes off we struggle to do any work.
It is not all glory
Last year I had to deliver a training session. I had my laptop, I had a TV and a Chromecast. And that was all I needed to use. Then I lost connection. I could not cast to the TV. I did not have a HDMI cable as I had left it at home. My laptop does not have a VGA port on it. I was stuck.
I went looking through the cupboards and found an old laptop. It was so slow that it took 20 minutes to boot up.
Needless to say, that training session was postponed. It made me look unprofessional, my colleagues did not get the information they required. Which in turn could have had an impact on the larger business. Thankfully that time nothing too serious happened.
The biggest problem with technology in the training environment is that of our reliance on it.
Has technology and e-learning killed the classroom
In my opinion. No. Technology has improved the classroom. I can now present from any where in the room. I can carry my trainer notes around with me on a phone or a tablet. You can now have your classroom use tablets to help them assist with their learning. They can take notes and then save them back to their cloud account. Meaning they will have them at their desk when ever they need them.
I have run numerous inductions like this, it allows people to take their own notes, on what they feel they to. And what is even better is that there is no paper involved.
We now can make a difference with our training.
Even e-learning can not kill the classroom. Yes, there are countless benefits to using e-learning but there will always be a need for human interaction. In fact, e-learning has too helped to improve the classroom. We can use e-learning to deliver shorter content. Content that needs to get out in a hurry. We can use classroom learning for deep and heavy contented sessions. To deliver importance when we feel what we say can deliver more weight then just the words.
Why do we hate the classroom so much?
Since I left school I have always dreaded the classroom. I am a fully-grown adult, I do not need to sit in front of a board or screen and be told what to do. Even though I do.
We as, grown-ups do not like being told what to do. It is in our nature. We do not like others telling us what to do. Sitting in a classroom to have somebody speak at you can make you feel less of a grown up.
And even if you want to learn about the topic being discussed. You can’t help but remember those early mornings.
When you were sitting a classroom at 9am. Freezing cold. In a drab uniform. Listening to somebody call the register. You then get a couple of small breaks and if you’re lucky P.E or computer education classes. Then the rest of the day was spent looking at the blackboard and the teacher preaching the importance of triangles and telling you about different rocks.
And that was on a good day.
But is classroom learning still effective in today’s workplace?
Is classroom learning still effective in today’s workplace?
Yes, it is. Classroom room learning is not only effective, but it is more important than ever.
That is a bold statement. Here are the reasons why I think this.
- Builds a connection
Let’s consider these further.
I talked about technology at the start of this article. The reason why I talked about technology before I talked about the classroom is because I wanted you to know that I do love technology. I do believe that we do benefit from it being in the L&D industry.
But, one of the things that makes the classroom so effective is allowing to let your audience take a break from technology. The modern office worker has had technology forced on them. Most will be looking at a screen for 8 hours a day. Then when they get home they are checking their emails to make sure they miss nothing. There is a constant ding in the ear and a bright light in their eye.
Allowing your audience to have a rest from this constant buzz will help them to learn better. People crave human interaction. It is our nature.
Builds a connection
Yes, it will build social connections but that is not what I am talking about. Thanks to technology we do not need to all work from the same office. You can have marketing in Australia, finance in Europe, design in Africa, IT in Asia and customer service in the Americas. You will also have people out on the road that are the face to many companies and spend more time with customers than anybody else.
E-learning is great to keep productive. And to fit training in around busy schedules.
But getting people into a classroom and letting them be with each other. Interacting. There is no substitute for that. People can network and get to know there colleagues better. And isn’t that what life is about.
From the beginning of dawn, humans have craved social interaction. In the past it was to survive. If you were not apart of the tribe then there was a very good chance you would die. Now we need validation. We like to have people around so that we can show off the fancy things we buy. We like to talk about ourselves but that would not be good if the only people we had to talk to were ourselves.
When you train in a group, big or small. We are letting people interact with each other. They can bounce ideas around the room against each other. All of which enhances the learning experience as some of these ideas may not have be on your mind for the training.
When I write my material for training sessions. I always make sure that I over budget time. I know that my sessions will always over run by around 5 minutes. And I let them.
It is not about loosing control of the group or the session. It is about letting people interact with each other. Let them ask questions, make comments and connect.
No matter how much information you put into an e-learning session there will always be something which you missed. This could be on purpose or maybe you had a brain fart and just forgot it.
There is also the possibility that somebody may not understand a point. Especially in todays world where everything seems to be more complicated.
You can get around this by letting the trainees know your contact details or who they should ask if they have any questions. This does have its own problems. You may not see the message. You may reply out of a reasonable timescale. Among other things.
But when you have a classroom session. You are there to answer these questions and queries first hand. Your trainees can leave your training session knowing everything that they need, to do their job to the best of their abilities. There could be less confusion and people not making mistakes.
The final point that I feel makes classroom learning still effective in the office is that you can make it a personal session.
This can be harder when you have a group of people. But if you know your audience then you should have no problem with this.
When you run classroom sessions, you can create a training session that meets your trainees learning needs. Everybody learns differently. This is not a bad thing. If you are working in a learning and development role, you will probably already know this.
Running classroom sessions will allow you to create different sessions that get the same message across to people. When I create training sessions, I will always schedule the session so that I have people with similar learning styles together. This helps me to deliver a personal training session for them.
With e-learning content. You can only ever create a one size fits all training material. Everybody that is going through the content will get the same message and you cannot cater to all the different learning styles.
Is classroom learning still effective in the modern office? There is no doubt that it is. That does not mean that e-learning is not effective either.
It is about choosing the right tools for the situation. You would not use a hammer to cut wood.
Hopefully you will now realise that the classroom should still have a place in your training calendar.
There really is no replacement for human interaction.
Until next time,