selling up, selling down

Instructor-Led Training 2.0
It’s time to take a hard look at the existing ILT model BY BOB MOSHER
Chief Learning Officer author, Bob Mosher headshot.
Bob Mosher is a senior partner and chief learning evangelist for APPLY Synergies, a strategic consulting firm. He can be reached at

here’s never been a better time to offer instructor-led classroom training!

Yep, it’s really me, the person who was once called “The Classroom Hater Guy.”

I’ve attempted to clear up that misunderstanding many times. The classroom is actually one of my favorite delivery mediums available to those we serve. My issue has never been with the modality; it’s been with what it’s become — in many instances, a dumping ground for everything needing to be “learned” in way too short of a time and, because of this, in a format that’s instructionally broken.

Well, that might be where the Hater Guy nickname came from. With all that said, let me try and clarify my position: It’s time to take a hard look at the existing ILT model and introduce ILT 2.0.

I’m not talking about changing the logistics of delivering ILT. This isn’t about scheduling trainers or equipping a classroom with technology. It’s about a CLO’s role in helping redefine a paradigm that’s been a foundational tool in our toolkit since the dawn of time. That type of change starts with us, and if I’ve learned anything in my 36-plus years in L&D it’s that change doesn’t come easy, especially when it involves changing something as entrenched as the ILT model. I know, we’ve tinkered with it a bit with efforts like the flipped classroom and blended learning, but this is a much larger change. This is positioning ILT in a very different way.

We need to change three things for ILT 2.0 to be actualized. The first is to stop talking about it so much. If the classroom is going to be allowed to do what it needs to do, it has to stop being what we always lead with. In most learning organizations, whether we want to admit it or not, ILT is still what starts the conversation and is the centerpiece on which everything else is based. If ILT remains there it will never be given the space it needs to evolve into a powerful new model.

We need to remove the words “course,” “lesson” and even “training” from our daily vocabulary.

We also need to remove the words “course,” “lesson” and even “training” from our daily vocabulary. Because we use these terms so frequently, we often predetermine our deliverables before we’re allowed to position all that’s at our disposal in the appropriate way. It puts our buyers in an “I’m getting five days of ILT” mindset and it makes it harder to reposition ILT in a new way.

Second, we need to strengthen our non-ILT deliverables’ design and technology capabilities within our learning teams. If ILT 2.0 is going to be actualized, it needs to offload all it has been asked to deliver to other trusted and proven modalities. Building out these new capabilities is going to take leadership, time, money and, frankly, courage. The CLOs I’ve seen successfully champion these efforts are what I like to call “courageous leaders.” They have a vision, have learned these new approaches and are willing to lead their teams in a change-management initiative that may be difficult. It will involve guiding many stakeholders — IDs, trainers, our “buyers” and even the learners.

We need to introduce and build new deliverables that fall under another discipline — namely, performance support, and I don’t mean a simple job aid. I mean the robust discipline of performance support that involves tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, electronic performance support systems, learning experience platforms and social/collaborative learning platforms. These are the tools that will allow ILT to migrate from 1.0 to 2.0, and here’s the kicker: They need to be brought to the front of the line with ILT seen as a tool used in support of them, not built and positioned ahead of them.

This shift in focus is what allows the third change to occur. When we lead with performance-enabling design and tools, ILT is allowed to take a new and powerful supportive and foundational role. It becomes the means, not the end. ILT 2.0 is a place where learners come to know just the critical content needed to begin the journey while being taught these other tools that enable them to make the rest of the journey.

ILT 2.0 is here to stay and plays a new and powerful role in the learning ecosystem, but it must be championed from the CLO level down if it’s going to be realized. The potential is limitless and gives ILT a new and invaluable position in our overall solutions.