Instructor-led vs. eLearning: 7 Key Differences
Employee Training

Instructor-led vs. eLearning: 7 Key Differences

8 mins read

by Pete Ford

Updated On May 26, 2023

Table of Content

Regarding educating and training employees, two approaches are available: instructor-led training (ILT) and eLearning methods. ILT and eLearning are commonly used methods, but how do you determine which suits your needs? ILT is typically seen as a formal and traditional training method, whereas eLearning is a web-based alternative that eliminates the need for a human trainer.

When comparing ILT and eLearning, it's important to consider their respective advantages and disadvantages. Here is some information that can assist you in making an informed decision.

Instructor-led Training (ILT or ViLT) vs. eLearning

Instructor-led training and e-Learning are two distinct approaches to corporate training

Instructor-led training programs involve face-to-face interactions with experienced instructors and peers in a structured learning environment, providing personalized attention, and immediate feedback and fostering collaborative learning. On the other hand, e-Learning offers flexibility and accessibility with self-paced online modules, multimedia elements, and interactive assessments. Both methods have their advantages, and the choice depends on factors such as the nature of the training, learner preferences, and organizational goals.

Comparing ILT and e-Learning involves weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Let's take a look at some key differences:

Context Instructor-led Training (ILT) e-Learning
Learning Method Face-to-face interactions, immediate feedback Self-paced learning, limited direct interaction
Flexibility Limited flexibility in terms of time and location Paced learning, anytime and anywhere access
Collaboration Encourages collaboration and group discussions Less emphasis on collaboration, more individual-focused
Cost Higher costs due to instructor and venue expenses Cost-effective, no travel expenses, reduced materials
Scalability Limited scalability due to physical constraints Highly scalable, can accommodate large numbers of learners
Personalization Personalized attention from instructors Customizable learning paths, tailored to individual needs
Delivery The instructor guides the learning process, demonstrations, and lectures Multimedia elements, interactive quizzes, simulations

Factors for Choosing the Right Training Method for Your Organization

What will work best for your company depends on various factors specific to your organization. For example, the nature of your topic, the size and characteristics of your employee population, and the resources available for training will all play a role in determining the most suitable approach.

Here are 4 different training methods:

  1. Instructor-led (ILT) Classroom: (ILT) classroom training can be ideal when the organization needs to train a small group of employees on a specific hands-on skill or procedure or requires building a personalized touch between the trainer and employees. For instance, if a manufacturing company introduces a piece of new machinery, conducting classroom training sessions with practical demonstrations and interactive exercises will ensure that employees learn how to operate the equipment safely and efficiently.
  2. Instructor-led Virtual: Virtual instructor-led training (ViLT) can be a practical option when the organization has a geographically dispersed workforce or employees working remotely. For example, a multinational company with offices in different countries can use virtual training to provide consistent and standardized training on company policies and procedures, fostering a cohesive corporate culture and ensuring all employees are well-informed regardless of location.
  3. Blended Learning: Blended learning can be an effective solution when the organization aims to provide comprehensive and flexible training. For instance, a sales organization might implement a blended approach for product training. They could offer virtual training modules to cover product knowledge and use classroom sessions for role-playing and sales pitch practice, combining the benefits of both methods for a more engaging and effective learning experience.
  4. E-Learning: When the organization needs to train many employees quickly and cost-effectively, e-Learning is a viable choice. For instance, a software company launching a new platform can use e-Learning to provide employees with self-paced training modules to learn the features and functionalities at their convenience, reducing the need for extensive classroom sessions and facilitating a smooth and scalable training process.

To determine the best training method for your company, carefully consider your training goals, employee characteristics, and available resources. Assess the topic's complexity, the need for hands-on practice, and the desired level of interaction. By evaluating these factors, you can decide whether ILT, e-Learning, or a blended approach will best meet your organization's unique training needs.

Instructor-led or Self-Paced eLearning: How to Choose?

Choosing the most suitable training method for your organization requires thoughtful consideration of various factors. Here are some key considerations to help guide your decision-making process:

Instructor-led or Self-Paced eLearning: How to Choose?
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Assess Organizational Needs, Goals, and Training Objectives

Begin by evaluating your organization's specific needs, goals, and the desired outcomes of the training program. Consider the skills and knowledge you want to develop in your employees and how these align with your overall business objectives.

Evaluate Budget, Resources, and Scalability

Consider your available budget and resources for training. Instructor-led training (ILT) often involves higher costs due to instructor fees, venue rentals, and materials. On the other hand, e-Learning can be a more cost-effective option, as it eliminates travel expenses and reduces the need for physical materials. Consider the scalability of each method, particularly if you have many employees or anticipate future growth.

Consider Learner Preferences and Engagement

Consider your employees' preferences and learning styles. Some individuals may thrive in an interactive, face-to-face learning environment offered by ILT, while others may prefer the flexibility and self-paced nature of e-Learning. Engaging your employees and ensuring active participation is crucial for effective training outcomes.

Evaluate Industry Trends and Training Delivery 

Stay informed about your industry's latest trends and advancements in training delivery methods. Analyze how ILT and e-Learning are being utilized and adopted by other organizations in your field. This information can help you understand which approach aligns more with industry best practices and learner expectations.

Consider Blended Learning Options

Combining ILT and e-Learning to create a blended learning approach is another viable option. This hybrid approach allows you to leverage the benefits of both methods. You can incorporate interactive instructor-led sessions for hands-on practice, group discussions, and immediate feedback while incorporating self-paced online modules for flexibility and accessibility.

Ultimately, the decision between instructor-led training and e-Learning depends on various factors specific to your organization. By carefully assessing your needs, considering available resources, understanding learner preferences, and staying informed about industry trends, you can make an informed choice that maximizes the effectiveness of your training program.

If your organization decides to depend on instructor-led training programs. It is best to get proactive overview on how you can implement ViLT in your organization. 

How Can Organizations Implement ViLT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training)?

ViLT largely depends on the organization's commitment to continuous improvement. By regularly evaluating and refining the training process, organizations can ensure that their virtual training initiatives are effective and engaging. Here are five steps on how organizations can implement ViLT:

How Can Organizations Implement ViLT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training)
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Step1: Conduct Assessment and Set Goals:

  • Before implementing Virtual instructor-led training, organizations should identify the specific training needs of their employees and set clear objectives for the training.
  • Determine which topics or skills are best suited for virtual instruction. Not all content may be appropriate for ViLT, so it's essential to prioritize based on the nature of the content and the audience's needs.

Here is a blog that helps you analyze your organization's training needs through a skill matrix template

Step 2: Select the Right Technology for Training:

  • Invest in a reliable virtual training platform that supports interactive features like polls, quizzes, breakout rooms, and whiteboards. Examples include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Adobe Connect.
  • Ensure that both trainers and participants have the necessary hardware and software. This might include webcams, microphones, and a stable internet connection.
  • Provide training or resources for instructors and participants on effectively using the chosen technology.

Step 3: Design Engaging Content:

  • Virtual instructor-led training can be more than just a direct translation of in-person training. It needs to be designed with the virtual environment in mind.
  • Incorporate multimedia elements like videos, video editing, animations, and interactive simulations to keep participants engaged.
  • Break content into shorter modules to prevent cognitive overload and maintain attention. Include regular breaks during longer sessions.

Learn More: Content Management System Corporate Training Course

Step 4: Train the Trainers:

  • Ensure instructors are comfortable with the virtual environment. This might require training them on the technical aspects of the platform, as well as pedagogical strategies for virtual instruction.
  • Encourage instructors to use various teaching methods, including discussions, group work, and hands-on activities, to cater to different learning styles.
  • Provide feedback mechanisms for instructors to improve their virtual teaching skills continuously.

Learn More: How To Select A Trainer For Your Company: 🏆 Top 10 Tips

Step 5: Evaluate and Iterate:

  • After each training session, gather feedback from participants regarding the content, delivery, and technology. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews.
  • Analyze the results to identify areas of improvement. This might involve tweaking the content, providing additional resources, or addressing technical issues.
  • Regularly update the training material to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

Learn More: Comprehensive Guide for Creating Corporate Training Materials


In corporate training, the advantages of instructor-led training (ILT or ViLT) shine brightly compared to e-Learning. ILT offers a unique blend of personalized attention, immediate feedback, and collaborative learning that nurtures employees' growth and development.In addition, the face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers foster a dynamic and engaging environment, leading to higher levels of knowledge retention, critical thinking skills, and practical application of learning outcomes. As a result, 44% of companies still prefer to deliver training with the help of instructor-led training.

With instructor-led training as a preferred training method, organizations can tap into this thriving market and leverage the power of personalized, engaging, and collaborative learning experiences to cultivate a highly skilled workforce, drive innovation, and confidently achieve their business objectives. Unlock the full potential of instructor-led training.

With Edstellar, you can access a diverse network of experienced instructors and a wide range of industry-specific courses to upskill your employees effectively. In addition, our platform offers a seamless learning experience, combining the benefits of ILT with modern technology and digital tools. Take the first step towards fostering growth and development.

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