It’s no secret that the majority of today’s society spends an increasing amount of time peering, working, lurking and essentially living on their computers. Although virtual, these computer environments have physical characteristics that are just as real as those of an office space or traditional classroom. Virtual environments emulate a natural and multi-dimensional environment that students and business people can use every day.
Virtual training is driven by the need to effectively train a more dispersed population that is growing at a steady rate. A society that includes multi-generational and millennial workers must have training tools and resources that appeal to a varied audience with the same amount enthusiasm and interest. From a cost standpoint, it allows organizations the ability to provide valuable training, opportunities and experiences for employees while avoiding travel costs and lost time from the job. Virtual training can provide an engaging and immersive experience that allows participants to connect and interact with both the instructors and their peers.
When implemented successfully, and with the right technology, virtual training can be very effective and efficient. However, the technology must offer an immersive learning environment as opposed to a web conferencing type system and delivery must include activity-based projects and hands on learning. And the training session should include the three components of learning: knowledge, experiential and application.
The technology should provide a comprehensive solution that features multidimensional training tools, an immersive learning environment and ease of use. Tools that are typically present in web conferencing products are limited to things like chatting, polling and some whiteboard capabilities. Leading virtual training platforms include additional tools such as collaborative boards, individual and immersive learning options, role play recording, break out rooms that function will full project details, videos and the ability to have activity based learning will be the most successful in engaging participants for optimal learning.
The development of virtual training platforms and programs must provide the instructor and participant with tools that allow them to communicate frequently, confirm learning is occurring, present information in different media formats to keep things from getting boring and keep the content engaging and collaborative. This approach to learning is quite different than the traditional web conferencing focus or asynchronous platforms. The content for virtual training must be designed with participant engagement in mind. It must be developed in a way that is aimed at promoting full engagement, application learning, retention through a comprehensive learning and training strategy. Virtual training will not be successful or effective without visuals, engagement and collaboration that can be personalized and offers hands on access to each learner.
Facilitators and trainers must be skilled communicators in order to deliver compelling virtual training. The failure of facilitators to interact and connect with students or manage their environments effectively typically comes from limitations of the technology used, relying totally on a PowerPoint as the training tool and the inability to actively engage students in the learning process.
Benefits of Virtual Training
For all of the challenges that physical, event-based training can pose for learners and training decision-makers alike, virtual instructor led training (VILT) offers a compelling, cost-effective and results-oriented solution to those challenges by:
- Offering a highly adaptive, effective and continuous learning model that focuses on application and reinforcement of new knowledge and skills over time
- Allows learners to train from the field with minimal disruption to productivity
- Includes a variety of complementary activity based tools for disseminating training content and materials in formats that meet a diverse range of learning styles
- Provides the trainer confirmation that the participants have truly learned the information and can apply what they learned to improve their performance
- Allows participants to immediately apply what they learn to the job
Virtual instructor led training programs offer a number of strategies to engage participants:
- A rich virtual learning environment with high learning production values
- Facilitator dialogue rather than facilitator monologue
- Collaboration among the learning group, including breakout rooms for small group projects
- Multimedia content, including dynamic videos and graphics used to illustrate key concepts
- A variety of tools within the learning platform to facilitate a multi-dimensional flow of information across the learning community
One of the most important aspects of virtual learning is for the participant to be able to apply what they’ve learned in the real world. In order to ensure that, virtual training provides:
- Focus on the practical application of new approaches and tools
- Integration of all components of the learning environment including learning, application, peer collaboration and performance coaching
- Contains applied work assignments that put learning into action
- Provides a forum for learners to share the results of their work assignments and receive feedback from peers and the instructor
Virtual instructor led training offers an opportunity to establish clear communication not only between trainers and learners, but also between learners. This means, if implemented effectively, a virtual training session can not only help learners achieve learning goals, but it brings them closer together to form effective teams. Virtual training thrives in the transfer of knowledge through cutting-edge tools that help course authors create the best possible learning experience for learners resulting in better outcomes and performance. And, it is critical that the platform capture the engagement and performance analytics so the organization fully understands the value of the training programs.