Sunday, June 07, 2009

Classroom Trainer Resistance to E-Learning

Many reports coming in on last week's ASTD International Conference and Expo -- in my world coming from instructional designers and trainers making use of technology and social media -- expressed surprise at the prevalence of attendees who, to quote Cammy Bean, are "Traditional training people for whom most of this eLearning stuff is kind of exotic and/or quite overwhelming and threatening."

Once upon a time my dissertation was to focus on classroom trainer resistance to e-learning, killed by The Academy (some of whom were, um, traditional classroom trainers resistant to e-learning...). Up to 2007 I did lots of research and wrote a number of papers for assorted courses. Briefly: There's a lot of interesting literature showing that resistance ties to a number of factors, including personality type (explorer), view of self as instructor (to impart information or guide learning, work roles, and view of technology (enabler or interference).

Here is a lit review from 2006, which finally seems to have found its audience. Enjoy, and please contact me with any updated literature on the topic. Perhaps I'll rewrite it now that the other dissertation is done.


Tony Karrer said...

Great lit review. Thanks for sharing.

Joe Deegan said...

I think it's easy to avoid the resistance if you can help classroom trainers see how elearning will benefit them. In my organization we have transitioned to a blended approach where they learn all the boring pre requisite information through elearning then go into the classroom to practice what they have learned in the elearning. Classroom trainers have been excited and asking for more elearning because they are able to dive right into role play type activities and they have been able to nearly eliminate lectures. Tell a trainer that they will no longer have to lecture and can focus on facilitating interactive activities and they may be a little less resistant.
Great post Jane.

Jane Bozarth said...

Joe, I'm glad you had that experience. Alas, I do not share it. Maybe the difference, in my situation, is that the "trainers" for the most part aren't? Most were SMEs promoted into training roles who see their roles as experts/lecturers.


Daniel Stevens said...

I see 2-fold resistance; 1) The learning curve requires a commitment of time and resources that may not be available to the trainer. 2) There's a lot of bad e-learning out there.

The result is that you have a lot of smart trainers with all of the right motivations asking themselves, "Why invest in producing training that is bad? Especially when my customers are satisfied."

Adoption would require the trainer to say to the customer, "I think it's time that we leave a training model you've been pleased with, so that we can adopt one that I don't know how to deliver & haven't seen done very well. This is important for us to do, because what you think is effective really isn't."

I think most of the problem is just the amount of bad stuff out there.

Jane Bozarth said...

Well Daniel, in my experience most of the resistant trainers haven't seen enough e-learning to make that kind of call, but your point that e-learning is bad is valid.

Didn't we cause that, though? See Joe's post above: "In my organization we have transitioned to a blended approach where they learn all the boring pre requisite information through elearning..." and then use the classroom for anything fun and engaging and interesting.

Anonymous said...

Now I see the genesis of such bad e-learning. Selling it by telling trainers they can put all their lecture/boring stuff online? How sad. It will take us years to overcome that kind of thinking.
Sean B.

Unknown said...

Very thought provoking post, Jane. Thanks so much.

I think, too, there can be an organizational or cultural resistance. Almost two years ago, when I was first hired, the company expected that I would have almost 80% travel because management consider face-to-face instructor-led client training to be what the client wanted and the most effective way to deliver training.

Turns out, our clients prefer the online synchronous instructor-led training when the content is engaging and focused! I've only conducted two on-site training events in the last two years.

Our on-demand recorded narrated videos are also gaining strong acceptance.