A little provocative I know, but for years I have been hearing that face-to-face learning is dead and the simple fact is, that it’s doing well. It’s alive and kicking!

This is borne out by Towards Maturity report “L&D where are we now 2017 -2018” where 4/5 soft skills courses are still delivered face to face. In fact what surprised me was that of the statistics around technology in learning, there were no figures over 35% to say technology has visible benefits. So why the provocative title? Am I biased towards face to face?

The simple answer is no, BUT I recognise the huge value it can bring and the buzz it can create. WE are after all human and there is really nothing that can recreate the excitement and buzz the right face to face intervention can create. What I hate to see is L&D’s rush to the latest fad, thinking that this will:

  • Save money
  • Improve performance
  • Get the results we need

In reality the latest fad, is just that and what I favour is a more pragmatic approach rather than a huge investment in some technology that may not deliver on the hype and promises. That is not to say that we should not use the latest and shiniest.  My concerns are often around investment versus return, especially for the voluntary, public and not-for-profit sectors. Can they really afford to invest in some of the latest when there is no guarantee they will deliver?

So, what am I suggesting? Here are a few things:

  • Analyse the needs carefully so you get an accurate picture of what is required – this will put it into the knowledge, skills and attitudinal learning categories as well as what level of learning (see Blooms taxonomy) – will it need to be in the moment, hard wired or semi-permanent?
  • Look at how to build up the learning, not in a one-time only event (unless that is ok) but maybe overlapping and layering of the learning, interweaving skills and knowledge
  • Choose from the 100 ways to learn and create a blend that will make the learning interesting and engaging. People can then choose one or all of the activities. The activities could, if appropriate build up the learning. See the example below:

Learning about the 5 secrets of Accelerated Learning on the Learning Loop:

  1. Participants read an article in the pre-work a few weeks before in the LNA email, finding out needs and objectives of participants
  2. Participants get to watch a short video summarising the 5 secrets in the last-minute email
  3. On the workshop, there are posters and resources on the 5 secrets around the room
  4. During the game – there will always be a question to “Describe the 5 secrets of Accelerated Learning” – which is a higher level of learning than “List the 5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning”
  5. One group does a teach back to help everyone remember what the 5 Secrets are and how to apply them

Back to the title then…. AI, eLearning, VR, and face to face are not dead. They are, as is face-to-face, simply some of the tools that you can keep in your toolbox so that you can choose the most appropriate method. Just as these days PowerPoint has been overdone, lets not overdo the new ones. If we mix up the tools we use, then we create a variety for the learners that will keep them engaged. What are your thoughts?

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