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Discover Top Training Formats Based On The Latest Study

Did you know that, despite the rise of online courses, many learners aren’t satisfied with them? Recent research by iSpring, titled The State of Online Corporate Training in 2024: Key Insights for Businesses and Organizations, reveals a large gap between what L&D professionals offer and what employees actually want. If we want to bridge this gap, it’s time to change our approach to training and adopt methods that engage and empower learners better.

Let’s explore which formats aren’t resonating with learners and what alternatives will lead to better outcomes.

The Most Popular Training Formats Among IDs And L&D Professionals

Most corporate training programs consist of the following formats:

  • Online courses
  • Virtual sessions
  • Training videos
  • Quizzes
  • Screen recordings

However, these formats are the least favored by learners. For instance, while 77% of training programs are online courses, only 47% of learners enjoy them.

This doesn’t mean we should ditch these formats altogether. eLearning is difficult to imagine without online courses, assessments, and video lessons. Screen recordings are still probably the best way to teach employees how to use software. And webinars are one of the few opportunities for remote learners to interact with each other and the speaker.

So, you don’t need to exclude these formats. However, you might want to dial them down a bit and add some other training activities your learners are currently lacking.

The Training Formats Learners Actually Enjoy

According to the research findings, most employees now prefer microlearning, face-to-face training, role-play simulations, and VR and AR activities. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and see in which cases these formats are most effective.

1. Microlearning

Microlearning is an instructional method that breaks down full-fledged courses into bite-sized chunks. A microlearning course focuses on a single learning objective and takes only 5–7 minutes to complete.

Why do learners like it? When explaining why they didn’t complete training, 68% of employees say they’re too busy to learn. Besides, social media seems to have changed the way we perceive information. People often don’t have enough concentration for formats that are much longer than a post or a TikTok video. These two factors make microlearning the most organic and approachable way for people to train.

You can create microlearning courses on any topic in any format, from text-based pages and short videos to scenarios and interactive knowledge checks. Thanks to this flexibility, they will fit any training scenario, be it onboarding, product training, or compliance training.

2. Face-To-Face Training

Traditional face-to-face training sessions have also proven effective and popular among employees. They include lectures, hands-on sessions, group trainings, and other in-person activities.

In fact, in 2023, companies used face-to-face training 8% more often than in 2022. It’s worth mentioning, though, that these companies don’t run purely traditional training. They use the blended learning approach, which combines online and in-person training sessions. This approach takes advantage of the best of both worlds: learners can interact with each other in real life to practice their new knowledge and skills while continuing to learn most of the time online at their own pace.

Face-to-face training is perfect when you need human interaction. For example, sessions on creative thinking or team building will be most effective when conducted in person.

However, this format has some limitations that gave birth to online training in the first place:

  • It’s difficult to assemble all employees because of their busy schedules.
  • Remote employees are left out of training.
  • The effectiveness of the session hugely depends on the speaker (it’s difficult to find good ones).
  • In-person sessions usually cost more because of travel expenses for speakers and/or employees from regional offices.

Still, if you have the opportunity to conduct such trainings and don’t have many remote employees, consider adding face-to-face sessions to your programs. This is what many of your learners want.

3. Role-Play Simulations

Role-play simulations, a.k.a. scenarios, are interactive learning experiences that allow employees to learn and practice new skills as they do in real life—through trial and error. Contrary to popular belief, role-play simulations go beyond customer service games and fit almost any training scenario.

Using role-plays, you can train on leadership, interpersonal processes, activities in physical space (such as how to act during a fire in the building or a robbery), abstract relationships (like a demand curve), and even certification skills (such as how to examine documents).

Moreover, Clark Aldrich, one of the world’s most experienced designers of educational simulations, states that role-play training should be a foundation for corporate training because it helps you achieve better learner engagement and knowledge retention and remains the only innovative training method with proven effectiveness that most organizations can afford.

An example of a role-play training format created with iSpring Suite.

An example of role-play created with iSpring Suite.

The only case where role-plays don’t fit is complex, specialized training, like a flight simulator. The format described in the next section is perfect for such cases.

4. VR And AR Activities

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) activities have been enlivening training enthusiasts for a long time—years, if not decades. At first, it seemed like that’s what all digital training would eventually transition into. Immersive, 3D experiences with the kind of interactivity that had never been seen before. While VR training is truly effective and extremely engaging (no wonder employees are enjoying this format so much), it’s too expensive and too difficult to create for regular training needs.

With new technologies—like Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3—coming to the market, there may be new developments in the field. VR headsets may become more affordable, and content development may become easier and less time-consuming. But…we’re not quite there just yet.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, there are some cases, like pilot training, that require this training format. If you need to train employees on skills that are vitally important—the ones that people’s lives depend on—nothing will work better than VR and AR.

It’s Not Just About The Format

Training formats play a huge role in achieving your training goals. However, there are also some factors that undermine training effectiveness, regardless of whether or not you use a format that resonates with your learners. Here are the challenges that companies face most often:

  • Weak interactivity. The lack of variety in assessments, coupled with repetitive training content, is a big downside for trainees.
  • Focus on a single training content format. Learners see heavy longreads or dry PPTs as ineffective content types. The same is true for monotonous video content, such as lengthy Zoom videos.
  • Passive learning. This includes low-quality delivery (a presenter simply reading from the slides) and a lack of in-depth insights or real-life cases to illustrate the material.

Besides, most companies state that the biggest barrier to effective training is the lack of clear-cut training goals and a failure to identify the target audience.

So, if you want to succeed with your training initiatives, consider not only the formats you’re going to use, but other factors as well.

Download The Full Report

To learn about other aspects of the current state of corporate training, like how companies overcome employees’ resistance to training, measure training effectiveness, and formulate their training budgets, download the research findings from iSpring’s website.


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