Is Virtual Training Just A Trend?
The benefits of virtual training are plenty. Although it is currently enjoying a lot of media attention, it has actually been around for decades. The concept originated more than 170 years ago in Great Britain when professors and students who could not interact in person on a university campus used parcel post to send lessons and receive completed assignments by mail.
It took some time for virtual classrooms to debut in the corporate world, however technological advances in the 1990s—coupled with widespread use of the internet-fueled the growth of virtual training in business sectors. By the year 2000, most enterprises had at least dabbled in virtual training; many others had successfully incorporated it into their training arsenals.
Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic
When COVID-19 struck in early 2020, everything changed dramatically. Forced into lockdown mode with a large percentage of the workforce suddenly operating from home, business interest in (and need for) virtual training accelerated at an unprecedented pace. Although emigration from the physical classroom had actually begun years ago with some remote workforces experiencing travel cutbacks, the pandemic caused companies to adopt solutions overnight rather than over a few months.
Many unprepared organizations had to fast track virtual training. What had been on the roadmap to someday research and roll out was forced upon almost everyone, and for many, without any prior experience— let alone skill or proper technology to make it happen.
Astute learning leaders recognized that it was either pivot or perish. Organizations that were already considering the shift, as well as those that we’re offering it at some capacity but were not prepared to exponentially scale their learning efforts to meet the increased demand, scrambled to adapt their existing face-to-face training for online delivery. A huge challenge was maneuvering the intricacies of designing and deploying effective virtual training systems that do not compromise the original goals of face to face training programs.
The good news is that industry experts agree that the sudden shift to virtual classrooms resulted in some remarkably good training, created by (sometimes) desperate designers who had the advantage of being able to work with high-quality and affordable software tools. Fast, reliable networks enabled global enterprises to disseminate the material with limited complications.
A key challenge for trainers remained, which was how to effectively emulate an in-person learning experience in a live, synchronous virtual environment. Many turned to their basic enterprise web conferencing tool to help them achieve learning objectives. They discovered that specialized live virtual training solutions, which allow them to creatively use embedded tools, could help them bring people together for valuable discussion, dialogue, practice, and collaboration. They learned, for example, that posting a thought-provoking poll question could stimulate fruitful interaction. Using the status indicators, they realized they could have participants either agree or disagree on a particular topic. They could then direct participants to customized breakout rooms for further discussion or exploration.
Benefits Of Virtual Training
Well-designed virtual training, which can take place in multiple, sometimes non-traditional, formats, offers many benefits. These include:
- Just-in-time learning that can be applied immediately
- Spaced learning opportunities
- Greater chance for individualized contribution, feedback, and coaching
- The ability to reach an audience that is isolated or challenged with disabilities
- It’s more economical than face-to-face training, especially when scaled
- It’s a great equalizer…trainers don’t know who is a manager or a subordinate, so every learner is important
- Opportunities for dispersed learners to interact and network with one another
- More flexibility in program design • Reduced travel costs
- Increased efficiency
- Employees spend less time away from the job • Flexibility to learn over a period of time, versus all at once
- Increase in diversity and inclusion
- Enablement of work/life balance due to less travel and time away from home
- Ability to offer continuous learning opportunities to increase knowledge retention
- More accessible for those with physical, auditory, or visual disabilities
- More creative for L&D practitioners
The many benefits of virtual training can have a positive impact on your organization. Download the eBook Top Considerations When Choosing Αn Enterprise Learning Solution and learn how to choose the option that is best for you.