October 25, 2018 - No Comments!

The Top Challenges of Traditional Learning

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Author – Swati Kamath| Product Marketing Manager

The Top 5 Challenges of Traditional Learning

Technological advancements such as automation and robotics are causing many roles traditionally performed by humans to become redundant. This phenomenon is happening at a much faster pace than ever before, necessitating employees to rapidly upskill themselves and add value to their roles and the organization. The alarming rate of change and the need for accelerated skill development is also posing a huge challenge for learning and development teams that are still deploying classroom-based, facilitator-led training interventions.  Very soon, these L&D teams are going to find it overwhelming to manage the task of enhancing employee capabilities and improving efficiency, given the pace at which this transformation is required to take place.

In this blog, we address some of the challenges that L&D teams will face if they don’t adopt new-age solutions to develop the workforce. In fact, some of these challenges are already commonplace thanks to millennials, virtual teams, and high-stress roles with heavy workloads and dependencies.

    1. Employee resistance to classroom

      Traditionally, organizations struggled to develop their sales teams because they were constantly on the move and gathering them in the same place at the same time was a near impossible task. Today, this challenge is not limited just to sales teams. A rapidly changing world, increased demands from customers for hyper-personalized solutions, heavy competition, and tight deadlines are just some of the many reasons that keep the modern employee incredibly busy. Each role contributes to a larger process and pausing it for a day or so affects the entire process. Therefore, expecting them to set aside their workload in favour of a classroom-based intervention is not something the modern employee takes lightly to.

    2. Loss of learning over time

    Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German Psychologist who pioneered the experimental study of memory found that when no attempt is made to retain learning, information gathered is lost over time.

    Further research supports Ebbinghaus’ claim as research findings show that when not applied, learners forget over half of what they “learnt” within an hour, and over 75% of information within a week of the learning intervention. With learner attention spans being incredibly short and information overload causing learners to disconnect, traditional classroom interventions don’t facilitate any real skill development. Therefore, modern learners question the need for and impact of traditional learning interventions.

    1. Producing the same experience and learning outcome

      Traditional learning, otherwise known as classroom-based learning, is heavily dependent on the facilitator. The facilitator’s expertise on the subject, experience with facilitating, delivery capability, and ability to keep the audience thoroughly engaged are some factors that determine the success or failure of a training session. Therefore, the learner experience, learning impact and learning outcome are all tied significantly to the facilitator of an intervention. Different facilitators delivering the same content produce different results, mitigating the learners’ opportunity for a uniformly pleasant and fruitful experience.

    2. Dispersed workforce

      The modern workforce is global. Employees of the same organization are based in different parts of the world, and the density of the workforce varies depending on the presence of the organization within that region. Traditional learning, which depends heavily on physical proximity, therefore presents opportunities to appease the masses. In other words, employees operating in regions with a denser workforce are provided with better or more learning opportunities than those who work in regions with a smaller organizational presence. With opportunities for learning and personal development ranking high as a reason for employee retention, engagement and productivity, the lack of equal and adequate opportunities impact organizations in more ways than one.

    3. Engagement

      The average attention span of a human being today is less than that of a gold-fish (conscious memory is less than three seconds). Within a classroom-based learning intervention, a facilitator is tasked with not just delivering a uniformed learning experience, but, also to equally engage all the learners. With a ratio of one facilitator to at least 20 learners, engagement is a tricky task that requires delicate balance. With several other variables thrown into the mix, such as facilitator’s ability to constantly engage learners and learner moods, preoccupations, need for social interaction, varied learner backgrounds and expectations, disruptions, complexity of the content delivered, and the element of surprise, keeping learners engaged in a classroom set-up for the span of a day or half is tricky, if not impossible.

    4. What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)

      A big challenge that traditional learning methodologies present is that learners question the value and benefit they derive from the intervention. In other words, learners question ‘what’s in it for me?’ There are a number of reasons that prompt learners to posit this question:

      1. Inability to address personal learning need – Even in an audience with seemingly similar backgrounds, learner needs and expectations from the learning intervention are varied, as are their learning styles and uptake. Traditional classroom-based, facilitator-led learning interventions do not cater to the hyper personalized needs and expectations of the learner. When learning needs analysis is incorrect, they can fail to cater to the needs and expectations of the entire batch as well.
      2. Lack of objective, actionable feedback for learners on potential, performance and progress – Learners seek training specifically to enhance knowledge and/or skill. Traditional learning interventions often provide biased or blanket assessments, tips and best practices that prove ineffective in addressing challenges and catering to learner needs.
      3. Mandatory training to fulfil personal growth indicators – Several organizations expect their employees to undertake learning interventions as a key performance metric. This is done with the intent of helping employees with personal development and career growth. Often, mandatory training becomes a mere check-mark activity, something that needs to be completed in lieu of a good appraisal and without any real benefit.
      4. Miscommunication of benefit – Learners aren’t always privy to their need for development of a skill. Organizations identify certain key learning interventions that they believe would benefit certain learners. Traditional learning interventions, however, often fail to communicate the importance of a learning intervention for the learner. Case in point, Organization X. After being faced with several escalations arising from a lack of cultural sensitivity, organization X decided that all employees traveling onsite had to undergo a cultural sensitivity workshop. While the intent is commendable, the workshop failed to deliver any real impact because seasoned travellers did not see value in participating. As a result, escalations on the grounds of cultural insensitivity continued to percolate.

    It is evident at this point that traditional learning comes with a fair share of challenges, and in this digital world, sticking to the old ways can be troublesome. Like the age-old saying, “what got you here, will not get you there”. Therefore, it is time for organization to rethink their approaches to learning, and look for the best solutions that cater to learner needs as well as organizational requirements.

    In the next blog, we will address how new-age learning methodologies like self-paced learning can mitigate these challenges presented by traditional learning.

Published by: Nikita Madhu in Blog

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