Instructor-led training (ILT) is certainly the oldest of the methods used in corporate learning and development programs. We have always gathered people in a room and taught them something. As employers continue to push to reduce the amount of time employees spend away from their work, however, ILT has increasingly come under fire. As a result, durations are being compressed and content is being converted to online and other formats. Certainly, time is a precious commodity, and there is justification for reducing the time professionals spend in the classroom – but I’m not advocating the elimination of instructor-led training. I’m asking us to use this time more wisely so it delivers greater impact.
Why spend our valuable time that we have in the classroom simply disseminating information? This can be done much more effectively in other ways. Think about the typical mix of people in a classroom. Even with prerequisites, it’s likely that they will represent a wide variety of knowledge on the subject matter. Inevitably, some people understand what is being taught right away, and others do not. Someone will ask a question while others will be completely bored and disengaged. We know that lecture is the least effective method of instruction, or at least we should know. Still, it’s common practice to project a slide presentation and have an instructor deliver content in one direction – from their brains, mouths, and slides to the brains, ears, and notebooks of the learners.
The classroom provides the opportunity for engagement, collaboration and simulation. Take advantage of the time learners spend together to have them engage in these more meaningful and impactful activities.
Instead of lecture or other passive methods, use a game-based approach to deliver fact-based knowledge to your participants. It might be helpful to think specifically about incorporating this approach before, during, or after your instructor-led training events.
Before your session, use games as pre-work and have them enter the classroom with that knowledge in tow – and in the room, instead have them use that knowledge. With the mLevel analytics platform, you can deploy a series of games and study the mastery scores beforehand to gauge what people know and what they don’t. Adjust your instructional strategy! If the data indicates that the learners have mastered a concept, it can be reviewed at a high level – then look at areas where knowledge gaps exist and spend more time on them.
During the session, using game-based learning activities in the classroom could serve to break up instructional strategies. After a break, the first activity back can be a game to get people re-engaged. It can serve as a quick check for understanding after an activity of module. Starting the day with a competitive, knowledge-based game can kick the day off with a shot of energy.
Finally, games can play an important role in knowledge retention and reinforcement after the session. Learning professionals are constantly seeking ways to combat the forgetting curve, which shows that learners typically forget knowledge gained in the classroom at an alarming rate as time passes. By deploying games that cover the content covered in the classroom (and appropriately spacing them out), you can counteract the inevitability of the forgetting curve and commit the knowledge to your learner’s long-term memory.
Several mLevel clients have been able to put this ideas into practice. Here are a few examples:
One client was delivering instructor-led training to support the deployment of a new customer relationship management tool. A key component of using the new system was to understand where new accounts were opened. They deployed a mission designed to introduce the purpose of the new system and drill them on that critical account opening step. In doing so, the participants came to the classroom with a base level of knowledge that would have been tedious to cover as a group. They were therefore able to reduce the amount of time spent in the classroom, and spend that classroom time more effectively by providing hands-on practice in the solution.
Another client used an mLevel mission as both pre-work and in-class enrichment. They were delivering product training to an exceptionally wide variety of participants – from associates to senior-level professionals, with roles ranging from sales to services support to implementation. The mission included games that addressed individual product suites and replaced an existing set of self-study pre-work exercises. Every classroom day they covered at least one product suite, and that evening’s homework was a game that addressed it. The next morning, instructors used the game as a way to demonstrate mastery and kick off the day with some energy and enthusiasm. The instructors were able to point to significant gains in mastery as a result of using the games, and learner feedback specifically pointed to the mission as a valuable component of the overall experience.
Yet another client used mLevel missions as part of a 2-week, instructor-led bootcamp for newly hired sales professionals. One mission addressed pure product knowledge that was essential for the sales force to have at their fingertips. Instructors gave the overview and examples in the classroom and assigned the mission for repetition and reinforcement after the day’s session. Daily prizes were given for each day’s top performer, so competition was fierce, with participants playing repeatedly for the top spots. The second mission covered the sales process, and included a Path Finder scenario-based activity to quiz participants on the right way to conduct a needs assessment interview. Combined, these missions drove engagement and learning, and cranked up the effectiveness of the overall classroom experience.
Demands on employees’ time, rightfully seen as the precious commodity it is, are only going to increase. When you get the opportunity to bring people together, it’s critical to use that time wisely. Use game-based solutions both to reduce the time away from work, and to ensure that time delivers maximum impact – before, during and after the event. Your business owners and project sponsors will thank you.