The 5 Problems with Classroom-Based Training

Jan 15, 2013
5 Min Read

My colleagues Bruce Tulgan and Jeff Coombs at Rainmaker Thinking have trained thousands of managers in their 20+ year careers as generational management experts.  In that time, they’ve identified five problems with the typical classroom-model of training.

Training is short-lived and event-based

When training occurs on one or two days every once in a while, it creates short-lived excitement and short-lived skill uptake and on-the-job application.

Training is in a bubble

Classroom training tends to be removed from the day to day work experience of the participants, both in terms of time and real world application.

Training is now or never

When an employee misses a training class due to other obligations or due to starting employment after the class, he/she is left behind until there is another opportunity to take the class and by that point the class may be “history” to the rest of the group.

Training is led by an outside facilitator

Usually, courses are not led by a group’s manager or done with one’s actual work team or work peers.

Training requires extroverts

In every group of in-person learners, there are several introverts who will resist participating because they don’t want to speak in front of the group.

In order to solve these problems, Bruce and Jeff have created a low-cost online learning platform called  Managers can choose from dozens of training programs including How to Manage Yourself and How to Manage Your Boss, and the system creates an ongoing learning experience by pushing out short, sequenced video lessons on a customized schedule.

Participants are encouraged to interact with the lesson at any time of the day, apply the lesson to their real-world work environment, and then report back on the outcome – getting feedback and advice from learning group members (who are their actual work colleagues) and their manager.  Because the training is on-demand, it’s easy for new employees to catch up to the rest of the group.

The best thing about training platforms like is that they are command-driven.  They resemble a social network, but the employer controls the parameters.  For instance, the manager selects the makeup of the group, the security settings, and the content.  She also drives the pace of learning and regulates the conversation as she sees fit.

When it comes to eLearning, digestibility is also extremely important.  It is notoriously difficult to get people to pay attention to an online training course for more than a few minutes at a time.  If your offering is longer than that, participants zone out or simply click through the content until they can check a box saying they’ve completed the course.  This is the last the last thing you want after you’ve invested substantially in a training solution.  Just as with classroom training, the central challenge is to capture participants’ attention and sustain it until you can spur them to action.

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