Will eLearning Make Your Training Team Redundant?

I was recently talking with a training manager who is putting together a proposal for an eLearning program within his organisation. One challenge is dealing his L&D team who are sceptical of eLearning due to concerns over their job security. In this article we'll explore whether trainers should be worried about their roles becoming redundant.

It’s a fact of life, advances in technology are starting to replace jobs traditionally fulfilled by people - my local underground station has concreted up all the ticket booths and the only way to buy tickets now is via ticket machines.

For those working in these types of roles there is a real fear associated with change. Many jobs are under threat because of technology.

The same is true within L&D. Today, delivering training online is often seen as an opportunity to cut costs and improve the reach of training which historically was always delivered in a face-to-face environment.

(I wrote a case study demonstrating how to quickly demonstrate measurable cost savings by switching from classroom training to eLearning).

So it is understandable that trainers are starting to get nervous about being replaced by eLearning.

“What will happen if I am no longer required to deliver face-to-face training because that same content is now being delivered online?”

The challenge

This situation is a difficult one – especially for those of us who are responsible for delivering eLearning.

Usually, the people who manage these programs are working directly alongside the trainers and unwillingly, we find ourselves competing with the very people with whom we should be working.

I have experienced this exact scenario. Around five years ago I was tasked with implementing an eLearning program into a global organisation.

The only form of training previously delivered was via a team of technical trainers.

I joined the company with the remit of introducing a new eLearning program and bar the training manager all of my colleagues were highly technical, face-to face, classroom trainers, with a wealth of experience and a history of successfully delivering classroom and webinar training.

On a personal level they were great. However, several of the team were to later admit their scepticism about what I was working on and how my product was going to affect their role.

It was an extremely challenging situation – new job, new company, and my new colleagues weren’t wholeheartedly behind my project.

It seems to me that eLearning will actually make training jobs more secure.

The reality

So whilst this fear exists, perhaps it’s unsubstantiated?

Whilst technology is replacing many roles in commerce, it seems to me that in most situations, eLearning will actually improve the performance of training professionals, make their jobs more secure and enhance their training to be more effective.

Why?

Well… if the benefits of the training function within an organisation can be demonstrated to be positive, that will have only a positive impact on L&D within the organisation.

You may argue that the organisation will look at eLearning and classroom training as separate entities.

But most organisations don’t have a clue how effective training is. Why not? Because it is rare that the effectiveness of classroom training is measured. An online learning program can provide that.

By introducing a platform that can reliably measure the effectiveness of training, we can start to demonstrate just how much of a return on investment an organisation can benefit from.

Whilst technology is replacing many roles, eLearning will actually improve the performance of training professionals.

Easier said than done

You and I know this. Convincing our colleagues of this is a whole different ballgame.

Not only is it a challenge to convince the training team that you are implementing something that will make their position within the business stronger, but it is crucial to the success of eLearning that the training team are acting as champions for the program.

Whether they are delivering training to internal employees or external customers, these trainers can make or break any eLearning program (read more about the importance of creating a network of eLearning champions here).

Reassuring the classroom trainers

Thinking strategically about how to overcome these objections is an essential part of implementing an eLearning program and something that must be considered before jumping in at the deep end.    

If you have a specific face-to-face training function, I would recommend thinking this through carefully before you go ahead and source an LMS or start building content. 

If you have already implemented eLearning, and are experiencing some resistance from various individuals, it is not too late to win them over.

Or maybe you have yet to face any conflict; but if you haven’t sold them on the benefits, they may not wholeheartedly buy-in to eLearning and will quietly resist what you are trying to achieve, when you really need these guys on your side.

So setup a workshop or coffee meeting specifically focused on addressing their concerns. The key is successful communication. They may not fully understand your strategy – i.e. the key objective for introducing the program, which topics you plan to deliver, etc.

You can also use this forum to ask which training they frequently repeat or topics they don’t enjoy delivering. 

Maybe you can use these as ideas for courses that can be delivered via eLearning instead?

Through communicating the benefits of eLearning, you can slowly start to break down some of the resistance you may be facing.

How to provide reassurance

Below I have listed some benefits to the trainers that will come from the introduction of eLearning. You can start using these in conversations with trainers ahead of implementation.

Benefit #1: More effective

The best football teams in the world are successful because of their attackers. The more points they score, the more likely they are to win.

But any successful football team must always have a great defence – there’s no point in scoring five goals if the opposition scores six. Both elements are essential.

It has been proven time and time again that the most effective form of learning is a blended solution – your learners would be extremely lucky to have both. This means a combination of online and face-to-face training, combined with other tools to help learners.

By providing a blended solution, the value of training as a whole will increase, which will only serve to strengthen the trainers’ position within the organisation.

Benefit #2: Reducing repetition

One of the biggest complaints that I hear from trainers is that they are fed up of repeating the same sessions over and over again.

An example I heard countless times was that they would often be drafted in to deliver induction training to new starters and this would be frustrating because they would be repeating the same content over and over again. And if one person was off sick or on holiday, then they had to repeat it yet again.

One of the most exciting aspects of an eLearning program for your trainers could be that they will no longer be required to repeatedly deliver the same training.

Not only this but rather than people forgetting about what has been taught, your online content will serve as a refresher for the learners further down the line.

Missed the induction? No problem! Click this link and you’re away!

How happy would your trainers be if all of their audience had the same level of knowledge when they arrived at the classroom?

Benefit #3: Less catching up

How happy would your trainers be if all of their audience had the same level of knowledge when they arrived at the classroom sessions, because they had all been through an online module that was a prerequisite to attending the face to face training?

This point alone can be an excellent way to sell eLearning to your trainers, who often have to spend the first two hours of a day’s training going through the basics for half the group who aren’t up to speed, whilst the other half of the group are bored stiff because you are just repeating information that they already know.

Like any professionals, trainers take pride in their work and love nothing more than delivering an effective, informative session where attendees are enjoying themselves.

By adding a prerequisite module to live training you can set the scene and guarantee time spent in the classroom is maximised.

Benefit #4: Reduced admin

I know that from working as a trainer myself, 90% of my time used to go into organising training sessions, setting up equipment, sending out invitations and then reminders closer to the training, emailing hotel and travel information, organising reading material etc.

This left me with only 10% to actually deliver the training!

Most LMS will drastically reduce the amount of administration that goes into classroom training. This functionality does depend on your LMS, but most platforms will have functionality to make the organisation of classroom training a breeze (also known as Instructor-Led Training or ILT).

Within the LMS that we used, we gave the trainers administration access to the LMS and then they could create their own classroom sessions. Functionality that I saw my training team benefit from included:

  • Invitations automatically added to attendees work calendar
  • Email reminders leading up to the event
  • Limitations on the number of attendees at each session
  • Additional sessions created if there were too many people registered
  • Information sent to the venue organisers informing them of what equipment was required
  • Post training feedback forms
  • Post training assessment (proving ROI)

There are many more features that benefit classroom trainers and the last item leads us nicely into the next benefit...

Benefit #5: Prove value of training

Do your trainers currently measure the effectiveness of their training?

From experience this is the exception rather than the rule. If they do, it's probably with some feedback forms at the end of the session which isn’t an effective way of proving value.

However a refresher module delivered via your LMS with a small assessment two months after the initial course was delivered is the perfect way to demonstrate that the face to face training is having a positive return on investment.

This will only provide more proof that your trainers are delivering value.

Benefit #6: Specialisation

Some face-to-face training can't be done online - a good example in my company was hands-on, technical product training. The trainers would have a demo classroom setup, with products that learners could interact with in a hands-on environment.

This type of training would never be suitable as eLearning.

And with many of the subjects that the trainers were delivering before now being delivered online, this allowed our technical trainers to have more time to focus on this type of training, which they really enjoyed.

Your organisation may not sell products or have ‘hands-on’ training as such; however you can probably identify some topics that trainers currently deliver which are much more effective delivered in a classroom environment, whereas other training is more effectively delivered online.

Conclusion

It may come as a surprise to you that trainers feel nervous about the implementation of an eLearning program. It may be something that you haven’t previously considered. Or it may be something to which you felt resistance but weren’t aware of how to tackle.

By outlining the benefits of the eLearning program to the training team, you can mitigate any negativity.

More importantly, you can ensure that the training team is an integral part of your training strategy and that they act as eLearning champions within the business.

If you enjoyed this article don't miss my free, 5-day email crash course - 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an eLearning Project.

Ant Pugh

108A Tooting Bec Road, 108A Tooting Bec Road