Instructional Design — Classroom Learning
Classrooms are used when large groups must be taught the same thing at the same time or the task difficulty requires formal training. Before selecting this type of instruction, ensure that it cannot be taught effectively in another manner as classroom learning environments are normally costlier than other forms of learning. If possible, the instructors that will be teaching the program should help with the development process. This tends to lower the development cost and the initial implementation cost. All lessons should be fully outlined.
Classrooms may actually enhance learning in a blended solution composed of classrooms and elearning. Sitzmann and Ely (2009) found some evidence the this type of blended solution increased learning by an average of 11% for both procedural and declarative knowledge. There seems to be something almost magical about blending the interactive and social nature of classrooms with the self-paced environment of elearning.
Conventional classes can run from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks. Many tend to be large, with 20 to 40 learners, who have varying levels of knowledge and skills; note that the class size is not a particularly important factor when the goal of instruction is the acquisition of subject matter knowledge and academic skills. This type of training provides human interaction. If the class is not too large, then the trainer may determine the learners' needs so the instruction can be adapted and adjusted accordingly.
Classroom settings permit the use of a wide variety of training methods, e.g. video, lecture, simulation, and discussion. Also, the environment, such as seating arrangements, can be controlled to create a climate conducive to learning and classrooms can accommodate a large number of learners. The main limitations may involve increased costs, e.g. space rental and travel. In addition, the classroom may be quite dissimilar to the job setting.
Some of the questions to ask when deciding on the learning setting are:
- Does the task require high psychomotor or knowledge skill levels? If the skill level is too high, it may be too disruptive for the work environment to use OJT or to difficult for self-learning.
- What is the consequence of inadequate performance? If the consequence is too severe, do not leave it to chance for the correct performance to be learned.
- Do the learners have the prerequisite skills? The more prerequisite skills that they lack, then the more you will probably need a classroom environment.
- Will the course content likely to change quickly? Classroom environments are normally very adaptable for handling rapid changes due to the versatility of instructors.
- Are special facilities or equipment required, such as simulators or training devices?
- How high is the task decay rate? If it is high and the performers will not be able to put their newly acquired knowledge and skills to use right away, then there is a good chance they will loose what they learned consider elearning or OJT.
- Do large groups need to be taught the same thing at the same time?
- Can the learners be adequately trained elsewhere? Classroom learning is normally costlier than other forms of learning.
If this type of training is required you have two options. The first is in-house training where company learning specialists perform the instruction, either on-site or at another location. The second option is out-sourcing, where the learning specialists are contracted to perform the training at your location, their location, or a separate training site. The two main factors that must be considered when deciding upon in-house or out-sourcing are: who has the technical expertise to provide the instruction and who can provide the best training at the lowest cost?
You must also decide if it will be lock-step or self-paced. With lock-step instruction, everyone proceeds at the same pace, where as self-paced instruction allows the learners to proceed at their own pace.
Sitzmann, T. & Ely, K. (2009). Web-Based Instruction: Design and Technical Issues which Influence Training Effectiveness. Retrieved Nov, 2, 2009: http://webboard.adlnet.org/Technologies/Evaluation/Library/Additional%20Resources/Presentations/ASTD%202009%20Presentation%20Slides.pdf