A Framework for Training Intervention

Much has been written on the benefits and challenges of eLearning. On one side, hundreds or thousands can be trained at a very low cost per-student ratio. On the other hand, trainees are often unprepared to self-direct their own learning.

In this issue we will explore appropriate human intervention in the non face-to-face portion of your training programs. If you’re about to embark on a new training endeavor or are looking to make adjustments to an existing venture, let me know what you think about this issue. If you’re interested in a free intervention grid that is the basis for this article, click on the Download section of this newsletter.

It wasn’t long ago that the only training alternative was the classroom. Nowadays, you can start your training in a traditional classroom, continue it with eLearning back at your office and finish the program up six weeks later at home.

On the surface, this alternative has tremendous appeal. Flexibility, decreased costs, students progressing at their own pace, the list goes on. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find we’re in a similar dilemma as with other technology improvements. Less than twenty years ago you had one option to reach someone at work; you called their office. Today you can page, fax, email, cell-phone or do an instant message. With all this incredible technology, can we really say we’re better communicators?

Move beyond the classroom and you have a similar dilemma; scenario and simulation technology, audio conferencing, M-Learning, videoconferencing and other web-based tools. Millions of dollars are spent each year trying to integrate these tools into the training landscape. And what happens? The moment your students complete the face-to-face portion of their training and transition into cyberspace, you lose them to all the distractions that made classroom training so necessary in the first place.

Human intervention during the nonface-to-face portion of training is the key to maintaining student progress and accountability. Let’s look at three training methods (traditional, blended and eLearning) and a framework to approach appropriate intervention:

Traditional Training


  • The Training Experience has a defined timeline
  • Face-to-face teacher/student time is high

Impact without Intervention:

  • Training objectives are determined and managed by the facilitator
  • Students leave the training experience with a sense of completion

Intervention Need - Low

  1. Little or no need for managerial involvement

Blended Training


  • The Training Experience spans classroom and eLearning time
  • Face-to-face teacher/student time is limited

Impact without Intervention:

  • Training objectives are communicated by the facilitator, then managed by the student
  • Students begin their training effectively but lose focus as it moves to eLearning

Intervention Need - Medium

  1. Managerial participation
  2. Periodic meetings among trainees
  3. Partner trainees to help them troubleshoot their eLearning portion of the training



  • The Training Experience is online and is completely self-directed by the student
  • Student has little or no teacher/student connection

Impact without Intervention:

  • Without teacher/student contact, students must interpret and manage their own training experience
  • Students can lose focus immediately upon engaging with material

Intervention Need - High

  1. Manager must tie the Training Experience to on-the- job performance objectives
  2. Regular meetings among trainees
  3. Partnering becomes a critical structure for some students to begin, manage and complete their training experience

In conclusion, as you move from traditional to blended and finally to eLearning, there is an increased need to create accountability through human intervention. This can be accomplished through peer or managerial involvement, but the key is to sustain some type of face-to-face contact with the learner. Paying attention to this dilemma will produce more bang for the buck than any flashy elearning tool.