There are two main modes of education that make up the technical enablement field. You have instructor-led training and self-paced learning. Each has benefits and drawbacks, and everyone has their own opinion as to which works best. The truth is that neither method is sustainable without the other, but we’ll suspend judgement until we look at both.

Instructor-Led Training

Instructor-led training has been the gold standard for decades at this point. At IBM, we deliver our ADFz Foundations course as instructor-led learning on a continuous schedule (click here to sign up). The dynamic nature of classroom learning is what keeps students learning and growing their skillsets. Instructor-led training has flexibility, meaning that at any point, a student could ask a question that sparks deeper learning that what’s in the syllabus for that session. That discussion can end up helping the majority of the class, amplifying the overall benefit of the session. Students can make contacts, interact with each other, and quickly become part of a community of users that can collaborate and help each other become masters of the technology. Overall, not a bad situation.

The other side of that coin is that instructor-led training is very rigid in terms of time. Instructors need to be scheduled, and crucially, the delivery generally has to be within the confines of a working day. Because of that, the most difficult and costly time-restriction falls on the shoulders of the shops themselves, having to coordinate and dedicate developer time to attending classes. This is where self-paced learning becomes a very attractive option.

Self-Paced Training

Self-paced learning has one major advantage: time. Self-paced learning, in any of its forms, can be completed on the student’s timeline. If a developer only has 20 minutes here and 15 minutes there to devote their undivided attention to learning a new IDE, self-paced learning allows the education to reach a developer that wouldn’t be served by instructor-led training. Click here to see some examples of ADFz self-paced learning videos that we developed. That being said, self-paced learning does have a few challenges:

  1. Self-paced learning needs to be kept up to date – this is much easier to do with instructor-led training.
  2. Self-paced learning needs to be accessible – many shops block media sites like YouTube, which are hosting hubs for the content that makes up self-paced learning.
  3. Self-paced learning needs to be relevant – content and topics need to align with the student’s needs just as much as they need to be in.
  4. Self-paced learning has to be engaging and exciting – if it doesn’t hold your attention, it has no real value.

So which is best? The truth is that you need to utilize both instructor-led and self-paced learning platforms to succeed. You will benefit from attending classes only or using self-paced learning only, but when students use both, the benefit is exponential. Live classes answer questions that you can’t ask videos or e-learnings, and videos and e-learnings fill in gaps where live classes are restricted due to time. Email christopher.sayles@ibm.com to sign up for our monthly enablement distribution list.

Which method of enablement do you prefer? Leave a comment below!

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