Virtual Training During and Beyond the COVID Pandemic
Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.
I have spent a great deal of time in front of teams and audiences presenting training, workshops and information. I truly enjoy the visceral experience and connection this creates for me and my audiences.
With the onset of the Coronavirus, scheduled trainings and conferences started dropping off everyone’s calendars and huge holes emerged in ongoing education and training programs. What a strange turn of events and yet a great opportunity to embrace the many benefits of virtual training.
I have worked with several online training platforms in the past and was familiar with the efficiencies and conveniences afforded by virtual modalities.
Now, I find myself having to truly embrace these options and schedule virtual trainings for clients to continue programs that were already in motion, or to add new programs.
As I started building more online resources, fitted up a sound recording studio, and tried various platforms, I became acutely aware of the many acknowledged and unacknowledged virtues on virtual training.
Virtual Training allows the number of participants to increase or decrease without causing logistical challenges. In a classroom or auditorium, obvious physical limits exist. Virtual training can work for 2-3 attendees, or thousands.
Whether your participants are in Charleston or Sydney, they can participate in a virtual training session. This is hugely beneficial to companies with team members scattered over the country, or the globe.
There are many financial benefits to virtual training, including savings on travel costs and venue related expenses. Depending on the type of training, adding additional participants represents incremental cost increases.
When the training is being delivered in real-time, the participants can log in from home, onsite, or a remote location. When the training is pre-packaged, participants can take part at a time that’s convenient for their schedule.
5. Improved Retention
When the training is being recorded, or when it is prepackaged, the participant can review the content at their convenience and this can help improve their retention of the information. This asynchronous format can provide time for participants to absorb and review that they wouldn’t have in a real-time scenario. This format also allows for smaller bites to be consumed and for microlearning to make more financial sense in this forum.
6. Increased Participation and Engagement
Online training platforms allow for chat forums, rating tools, pop quizzes, and other participation tools. For those participants that are less likely to interact in a classroom situation, the virtual realm can be less intimidating. There are also tools for participation monitoring that can ensure the participant is engaged.
7. Immediate Feedback
Online training platforms can provide immediate feedback to participants and facilitators to ensure that course content is being absorbed. This real-time feedback helps comprehension and course development.
8. Blending Facilitators
With virtual training, facilitators can contribute from other cities, states or countries. This can add perspectives to training that may not be easily replicable under normal circumstances.
The virtual training platform allows for customized content, just the same as in-person delivery. And because of feedback mechanisms, real-time content can be melded to meet the participant’s needs equally as well.
NOTE: Rarely do I deliver ‘packaged content’ and the discovery process with a client allows me to customize content to get the optimal outcomes. Custom virtual training should also be preceded by virtual meetings with stakeholders to ensure the content is on point and relatable.
As with all things, there are also some drawbacks with a virtual interface and here’s a couple to be aware of:
- This learning experience may feel less personal for some participants.
- Interfaces can be problematic, bandwidth can cause problems, tech is not always seamless.
- There is a reduced direct interaction between participants which is good during a pandemic, not so good for shared learning under normal circumstances.
- There are very limited opportunities for team building exercises.
- Poor quality sound or visuals can make the experience lackluster.
I am always going to enjoy the opportunity to interact with my audiences in person, but virtual training is a very real part of our lives these days and can offer many advantages.
As a member of the business community, you’re likely reconsidering how you do business and what training and education might look like in this new era. Those of us that provide training and education are also needing to consider our options and will no doubt have to invest in more virtual training offerings as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds.
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