Ignite Your Software Development Team via an Active Learning Experience

The Right Approach to Team Training

Watching a training video can be an effective way for an individual developer to explore new concepts. That said, in-person training remains the optimal way for businesses to uniformly upskill a team of multiple developers. This is because face-to-face learning inherently fosters collaboration, immersion, and personal connection — three essential ingredients for team success.


To create flawless applications in enterprise settings, developers must learn to code well with others. The collaborative nature of in-person training makes it a tremendous way to boost team performance. It can also enable newly hired employees to become effective team members. This is achieved when instructors push your workforce to think, solve problems, and develop innovative applications — together. In addition, training exercises can be infused with real-life work problems, helping developers learn to partner on solutions to actual business challenges.


About 80 percent of developers who engaged in face-to-facing training said it effectively delivered new skills, according to a recent study.1 This makes sense, as this format pushes employees to apply new skills on the fly, unlike education programs that simply show them how to code. Just as importantly, in-person learning can be designed to mirror the rigor and feel of an actual production environment. This can result in deeper, immersive learning that bridges the gap between what is taught and what employees experience on the job.


Effective in-person learning lets employees share an experience rooted in mututal growth. Through collaborative interactions, employees can invest more in one another’s success. This helps your employees make personal connections during face-to-face training. As a result, your employees may feel more supported, which could remove barriers to learning and retaining skills.


1 DevelopIntelligence. (2017). Developer learning survey report [Blog post]. Retrieved from
2 Bana. S. (n.d.). Face-to-face training is still the better choice over digital lessons. TD Magazine. Retrieved from

Warning Signs of Ineffective In-Person Training

Warning Sign 1: Monotonous Lectures

Instructors shouldn’t maroon themselves to a whiteboard and describe programming to your employees. Nevertheless, some instructors have been trained to believe that lectures are the most effective approach to delivering technical skills. But true skills development requires employees to immerse themselves in a new technology, said Alan Galloway, director of curriculum and instruction at The Software Guild.

“Showing programming concepts to developers isn’t the way to help them gain a new skill,” Galloway said. “They need hands-on experience to learn nitty-gritty coding demands and how challenges can change on the fly.”

In other words, your employees should learn software development by actually developing software, not listening to an instructor describe the skills that the job requires.


Warning Sign 2: Barriers Between Instructors and Trainees

When instructors stand before a class, a “me” vs. “you” dynamic can form between them and the people they are training. Seated, your employees behave more like an audience, not active participants, which can lead to training fatigue instead of engagement with course materials.

Well-rounded instruction features not only collaboration between employees, but with the instructor, too. By stepping away from the whiteboard, instructors can interact with employees as mentors and develop a stronger rapport. They also become more engaged in helping employees overcome challenges.

“While group activities should dominate time in class, that doesn’t mean instructors get more time to take a break,” Galloway said. “In reality, instructors of active learning classes should collaborate alongside your employees and be ever ready to provide support.”


Warning Sign 3: Cookie-Cutter Exercises

While firsthand knowledge of technology is essential for gaining programming skills, its value may be reduced when canned exercises are used. By “canned exercises,” we’re referring to generic coding activities that don’t relate to work your team actually performs. For example, a module that involves manipulating zoo animals may be helpful for teaching basic coding concepts, but if developers need to learn to build an e-commerce website, exercises featuring project-specific elements may be more impactful. After all, training should focus on what your developers need to learn to contribute to your business, not coding in the abstract.

In addition, cookie-cutter exercises may not account for the diverse education needs that your employees have. By taking a one-size-fits-all approach to learning modules, junior developers may fail to acquire skills and senior associates may not glean benefits.

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Solutions for Effective In-Person Training

Solution 1: Flip the Classroom

An intuitive system for accelerating learning is the flipped classroom model. This approach favors hands-on knowledge over hand-holding demonstrations. Instructors spend little time lecturing, which is relegated to homework in the form of pre-class videos and reading. As a result, employees can spend class time immersed in using new technologies, actively solving problems, and acquiring programming skills.

“By swapping lectures for active learning, students make the most of the time they have with instructors,” Galloway said. “This lets them explore how everything fits together while getting expert guidance when something trips them up.”


Solution 2: Measure Comprehension Every Step of the Way

Meticulous instructors don’t wait until training is finished to measure whether employees have gained new skills. Instead, they incorporate comprehension checkpoints into exercises so they spot when an individual is lagging behind the group. They also poll employees each day to capture feedback for refining the program according to their preferences.

“Instructors should seek honest feedback from your employees as they deliver skills,” said Amanda Clapper, corporate operations manager at The Software Guild. “This way, they’ll know if concepts are grasped and if they need to change their approach so training is more productive.”

A consistent way to measure comprehension is by starting each day with an agile standup, Galloway said. “During agile standups, instructors can review items from pre-class materials and discuss everyone’s progress,” he said. “This helps them to tailor the day’s instruction around strengthening skills in those areas.”

Solution 3: Provide a Real-World Experience

Training can resonate more with developers if it mirrors actual workplace expectations. This allows employees to solve problems like they would on the job, which can contextualize skills that training provides. An instructor’s background plays a big part in the delivery of a realistic learning environment. Having extensive real-world experience is especially important in hands-on classrooms where they must closely interact with employees.

“When an instructor has actually worked in the field, they may feel more comfortable engaging with the developers they’re training,” Galloway said. “They’ll feel comfortable encouraging questions because they’ll know the answer. They can adapt when challenges arise because they’ve been there before. They’ll approach your employees as mentors because that’s what they’ve done in the workplace.”

To further establish a real-work environment, instructors should promote collaboration as much as possible. This adds value because close bonds can form between employees as they work together — connective tissue that is critical in the formation of great teammates.

“By working together, your employees become personally invested in one another’s success, which builds the traits of a quality team member,” Clapper said.


Solution 4: Go Beyond Technical Skill

Becoming a productive developer requires more than technical skills. Soft skills are equally important for efficient collaboration. Teamwork, leadership, adaptability — training is more impactful when it imparts these traits to employees. To go further, a company’s cultural framework should be infused into the education program so workforce skills evolve in lockstep with principles that your company values most.

“Many soft skills seem like common sense, but teaching them goes hand in hand with technical training,” Galloway said. “Providing coaching in soft skills can help technicallyminded people gain interpersonal qualities and transform into supportive coworkers.”


Solution 5: Maximize Learning, Minimize Disruptions

In-person training shouldn’t disrupt your daily operations — it should blend into project workflows to ensure daily tasks are completed and business objectives are met. Therefore, it’s critical to consider project timelines before scheduling classes. It’s also important to search for opportunities to condense training timelines to avoid impacting operations.

The training provider with whom your company works should also be able to create a classroom at your location. This allows your employees to gain skills without traveling a great distance to a training center. The custom classroom should stimulate collaboration and be a place of comfort — capable of supporting daily sessions without the distraction of harsh lighting, poor ventilation, or uncomfortable work stations.

3 Stack Overflow. (2018). Developer survey results 2018. Retrieved from
4 Learning House, a Wiley brand, & Future Workplace. (2018). Closing the skills gap. Retrieved from

Partner With The Software Guild to Accelerate Your L&D Program

Delivering effective in-person training is an exhaustive process. It requires time to customize exercises. Instructors need extensive experience leading classes and contributing to production teams. Sessions must be carefully designed to promote deep learning without derailing ongoing projects. To gain the expertise and support to deliver leading-edge skills to your team, partner with The Software Guild.


At The Software Guild, our instruction team has skills that extend far beyond the classroom. Classes are led by seasoned developers who have contributed to successful startups and Fortune 500 companies. This gives us intuition to make the learning experience feel like a true development environment.

“Because our instructors have worked for companies similar to yours, we know how to create a classroom with the pace and feel of your workplace,” Galloway said. “We also have the flexibility to customize a program that fits your corporate culture, team identity, and development workflow.”

Our instructors don’t simply teach your employees; we collaborate with them. “We always engage your employees as mentors, not instructors,” Galloway said. “This helps us build rapport with your employees so they see us as fellow developers they trust and want to learn from.”

By focusing on collaboration, we can integrate active learning into every aspect of training. This helps your employees see how the skills we provide will help them solve real-world challenges.


Throughout your program, The Software Guild puts your company first. We provide transparent, actionable feedback to your management team to quickly address and overcome challenges. Examples include reporting your employees’ progress and ideas for optimizing curriculum to deliver superior outcomes.

“Real-time reporting to business partners helps to ensure training runs smoothly,” Clapper said. “It’s a valuable instrument for exchanging honest feedback and making midstream enhancements that maximize productivity.”

In addition, our instructional design team can create content that is relevant to your business, helping your employees engage with exercises that enhance their skills. For example, when The Software Guild upskilled application engineers at a Fortune 100 insurance company, we partnered with the company’s leadership to create job-specific exercises around insurance claims.

“The Software Guild can do the same for your business,” Clapper said. “No matter your needs, we can deliver training that your employees find relevant, intuitive, and effective.”

About The Software Guild

The Software Guild creates talented software developers through corporate training programs designed to enhance your workforce. Through immersive hands-on coding education, The Guild provides expertise in upskilling, reskilling, onboarding, and staffing. In partnership with companies who are active in workforce development, we help align corporate goals, design education solutions, and deliver student outcomes. The Guild has more than 450 companies in its employer network, boasts a high job placement rate for bootcamp graduates, and offers master instructors who have an average of more than 10 years of industry experience. With on-ground locations in Louisville, KY, and Minneapolis, MN. The Guild also offers courses in partnership with universities and companies across the country. The Software Guild is owned and operated by leading education technology solution provider The Learning House, Inc.