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Self-paced Learning vs Instructor Led: Which Is Better?

16 January, 2024

Contemporary Learning Management Systems and Virtual Learning Environments excel in facilitating online education. They offer powerful features for developing and administering courses, accommodating both self-paced modules and the conventional live sessions led by instructors. The dilemma arises: which option is superior? When crafting and presenting my upcoming course, should I opt for the instructor-led approach or the self-paced format?

In our article we’ll go through all the pros and cons of both types of learning.

What Is Instructor Led Training?

So, what is instructor led training? Since the establishment of the first public school in America in 1635, instructor-led training (ILT) has been a longstanding educational method. Undoubtedly, its roots trace back even further, as informal teachings, such as mentoring in hunting during the hunter-gatherer era, likely employed similar principles. Focusing on the present, ILT encompasses any formal training guided by a subject matter expert. Examples include a sales manager mentoring an entry-level sales representative, an OSHA instructor imparting safety practices to electrical engineers or forklift operators, and a high school teacher educating students.

Initially confined to in-person settings, ILT has undergone a transformative shift with the advent of learning management systems (LMSs) and the internet. Now, virtual ILT sessions are not only feasible but also widely embraced. This shift has empowered businesses to engage in virtual face-to-face interactions with customers, partners, and employees. ILT, whether conducted in person or virtually, proves to be instrumental in crafting training programs that offer flexibility for end-users while ensuring effectiveness.

What Is Self-Paced Learning?

If you're enticed by the convenience of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) but aim to develop a training initiative that requires less of your instructor's direct involvement, the following form of virtual training may be exactly what you need. Self-paced learning constitutes any training designed for individuals to progress through a course at their own pace. This could involve participating in an online program consisting of videos, quizzes, and interactive exercises to evaluate the trainees' understanding. The course contents, referred to as training materials, are pre-developed and made accessible to learners around the clock.

So, what is self paced learning? Self-paced learning serves as the self-service model for virtual training. Despite the perception that learners may be isolated during training, interaction persists between students and instructors, especially in courses incorporating interactive assignments.

Self-Paced vs. Instructor-Led Learning

In the realm of education, the choice between Self-Paced and Instructor-Led Learning sparks a significant deliberation. Each approach carries its distinctive attributes, shaping the learning experience in diverse ways. Let's delve into the key characteristics of both methodologies to illuminate the strengths and considerations associated with Self-Paced and Instructor-Led Learning.

As educational landscapes evolve, the decision between Self-Paced and Instructor-Led Learning depends on the unique needs, preferences, and objectives of the learners and the overarching educational initiative. Careful consideration of the advantages and drawbacks of each method paves the way for a tailored and effective learning approach.

Advantages of Instructor-Led Training

  • Real-time Engagement: Instructor-Led Training (ILT) offers the invaluable advantage of real-time engagement with subject matter experts. Learners can directly interact with instructors, fostering immediate clarifications, collaborative discussions, and personalized guidance. This interactive element enhances the depth of understanding and facilitates dynamic learning experiences.
  • Structured Learning: ILT provides a structured learning environment, ensuring a consistent flow of information. This structured nature not only promotes a communal atmosphere within the learning group but also instills a sense of accountability among participants. The well-organized curriculum helps learners progress through topics in a logical sequence, contributing to comprehensive comprehension.
  • Immediate Clarifications: One of the notable instructor led training benefits is the opportunity for learners to seek instant clarifications during live sessions. This direct interaction allows participants to address questions or concerns promptly, creating a responsive and supportive learning environment.
  • Enhanced Human Interaction: In contrast to self-paced Learning Management Systems (LMS), these instructional approaches excel in delivering interactive learning experiences. This methodology typically entails substantial engagement with the instructor or fellow participants. As the classes unfold through real-time video, you have the opportunity to actively engage, converse, and cultivate relationships on the fly.

Drawbacks of Instructor-Led Training

  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Self-Paced Learning stands out for its flexibility and adaptability. Individuals have the freedom to navigate courses at their preferred speed, accommodating diverse schedules and learning preferences. This flexibility empowers learners to tailor their educational journey to suit their unique needs.
  • 24/7 Accessibility: Another significant benefits of self learning courses are the 24/7 accessibility to learning materials. Learners can access course content at any time, providing convenience and catering to various time zones, work commitments, and personal schedules.
  • Autonomy and Independence: Self-Paced Learning promotes autonomy and independence in the learning journey. The self-service model encourages individuals to take charge of their education, fostering a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Self-paced learning models provide a more favorable return on investment (ROI) in terms of financial considerations. Primarily, they are offered at a lower cost compared to instructor-led courses. Additionally, these courses require a one-time purchase and can subsequently be utilized to train multiple batches of employees or students. Frequently, you can discover these courses at significantly discounted rates on e-learning platforms such as Udemy.

Drawbacks of Self-Paced Learning

  • ​​Lack of Real-time Interaction: A potential instructor led training disadvantages are the absence of real-time interaction with instructors. Without immediate access to clarifications, learners may face challenges in addressing questions or uncertainties, potentially leading to gaps in understanding.
  • Self-discipline Challenges: The self-guided nature of Self-Paced Learning requires strong self-discipline. Some learners may find it challenging to stay motivated without the structure provided by regular live sessions, assessments, or a predefined timetable. Establishing and maintaining a consistent study routine becomes crucial in overcoming this challenge.

Which is Better, Instructor-Led or Self-Paced Learning?

Embarking on the journey of designing an effective learning experience prompts the age-old question: Which is better—Instructor-Led or Self-Paced Learning? Each approach brings its unique strengths to the educational landscape, catering to diverse preferences and learning styles.

Instructor-Led Learning (ILT) champions real-time engagement, enabling learners to interact with experts, seek immediate clarification, and participate in collaborative learning. The structured nature of ILT ensures a consistent flow of information and fosters a sense of community among participants.

On the other hand, Self-Paced Learning offers flexibility and autonomy, allowing individuals to progress through courses at their own pace. Learners benefit from 24/7 accessibility to course materials, accommodating varied schedules and learning preferences. The self-guided approach empowers individuals to take charge of their learning journey.

The choice between Instructor-Led and Self-Paced Learning ultimately hinges on the specific needs, preferences, and objectives of the learners and the learning initiative. The ideal approach may even involve a thoughtful blend of both, creating a dynamic and well-rounded educational experience.

Why You Should Consider Using Both (Blended Learning)

If you're uncertain about the method that suits you best, consider the following questions to assess your preferences:

  • Do you require swift completion of a certification course?
  • Does the idea of solitary learning discourage you?
  • Are your time constraints making it challenging to allocate a slot for a self-paced class?
  • Are you hesitant to seek answers to your questions online?

Navigating the advantages and disadvantages of self directed learning and instructor-led training (ILT) reveals a spectrum of possibilities. Why limit yourself to webinars or self-paced courses when you can seamlessly integrate both using a Learning Management System (LMS)? As mentioned earlier, the drawbacks associated with ILT can be complemented by the advantages of self-paced learning, and vice versa. For instance, if your company values the cost-effectiveness of regular webinars for customers, there's no need to eliminate them entirely. Instead, strategically reduce the frequency of webinars and supplement them with self-paced training courses to ensure a well-rounded training program.

When it comes to selling continuing education and compliance courses online, the adoption of blended learning approach introduces a wealth of options for customers to choose from, catering to diverse preferences and learning styles.

If you're eager to elevate your training programs through the power of blended learning, take the first step with DrivEd LMS already today!

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