Harness the power of IT learning and development methods

Dara Warn is the CEO of INE.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of this writing, there are more than 10.1 million job vacancies and just 5.5 million job seekers. That means there are more than twice as many job openings in the US as there are job seekers.

The IT industry in particular is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic industries worldwide, but still faces major challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent. According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and TalentLMS, more than eight in ten HR managers believe training is beneficial in attracting (83%) and retaining (86%) talent.

However, companies are often unsure how best to train and support their employees in their development. Technology has opened up many possible avenues, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, I’ll examine some of the most common IT learning and development (L&D) methodologies—and discuss the pros and cons of each—to give business leaders the perspective and context they need to make the best decision for to meet her team.

Computer Assisted Training (CBT)

Computer-Based Training (CBT) is gaining popularity as a flexible and accessible learning method. Due to advances in technology and the widespread availability of online platforms, CBT offers learners the opportunity to access a wide variety of educational content from anywhere in the world. This type of training can be a cost effective solution for businesses and organizations can save on travel expenses, venue rentals and training materials.

While CBT offers many advantages, there are also disadvantages. With CBT as a standalone L&D option, learners may have limited interactivity and feedback compared to face-to-face training. The lack of real-time engagement and personalization can hamper collaboration, question-and-answer sessions, and instant feedback on progress. In addition, technical challenges and connection issues can affect the learning experience and lead to frustration.

For a company looking for a cost-effective solution that transcends geographic boundaries and is highly scalable, choosing the right CBT program can be an attractive option.

Instructor-Led Training (ILT)

Instructor-Led Training (ILT) is an effective training method for IT professionals because it provides an opportunity to ask questions, receive instant feedback, and engage in discussions with instructors and peers. ILT facilitates face-to-face interaction, allowing learners to engage in meaningful discussions and collaborate with their peers. This direct interaction encourages networking opportunities, builds relationships, and encourages teamwork. Additionally, ILT settings are ideal for teachers to customize their teaching styles and tailor training to specific learner needs.

However, traditional ILT methods typically require learners to attend classes at specific times and locations, which can be challenging depending on an organization’s geographic limitations. Typically, ILT focuses on a single topic for the entire group, which limits the breadth of training available. ILT is often much more expensive and includes costs such as faculty fees, venue rentals, travel expenses, and more.

In short: ILT offers instant feedback, personal interaction, personalized guidance and practical application. Organizations that choose this approach should expect a significant financial investment.

Practical training

Hands-on training in the lab is another increasingly popular approach in certain industries, including technology, science, engineering, and healthcare. It includes experiential learning through hands-on exercises, simulations, and real-world scenarios. The practical training enables learners to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations. By engaging with real scenarios, learners gain a deeper understanding of concepts and principles. This method encourages active learning and engagement; arouses curiosity; and encourages collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving.

However, hands-on training in the laboratory requires sufficient time for learners to practice and repeat exercises to solidify their skills. This time-consuming approach can create challenges in the workplace as learners struggle with time management. Learners in remote locations or with limited access to technology may encounter difficulties, especially when forced to set up complex VPN networks or relying on high bandwidth requirements.

Organizations that rely on this type of training methodology should take careful care to ensure that the training program is tailored to their connectivity capabilities and that any hands-on, lab-based program is fully sandboxed and secure.

blended learning

Blended learning combines elements from two or more types of training methods. The aim is to use the advantages of both methods while reducing their disadvantages. The benefits are similar whether combining CBT and ILT, or ILT and hands-on training, or CBT and hands-on training. Blended learning offers flexibility and convenience and aims to provide options for self-directed learning as well as a more structured option. This method encourages proactive learner engagement. Using a blended approach, this method encourages learners to take an active role in their education.

However, with blended learning, learners often have to manage multiple platforms, assignments, and deadlines. Navigating between multiple dashboards can be confusing and requires effective time management skills. The success of this method depends heavily on self-motivation and discipline. The freedom and flexibility it offers might tempt some learners to become less involved. Blended learning can also exacerbate existing inequalities in access to technology and resources. Learners from disadvantaged regions may face challenges in fully participating in the curriculum.

Organizations that choose this option should carefully consider the composition of the team and whether this type of hybrid approach is ideal.


When it comes to implementing an L&D methodology, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The key to a successful implementation is understanding your organization’s unique needs and matching the appropriate approach to the desired outcomes.

Organizations should thoroughly research different training methods. By leveraging the strengths of each methodology and removing its limitations, organizations can maximize the potential for employee development, knowledge retention, and performance improvement in a rapidly evolving technology landscape.

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