Let’s get straight to it- what actually is a virtual training programme? Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase, or know organisations that are using it as an integral part their L&D strategy. Is it worth considering as an ongoing training approach for your organization? Let’s take a look.
Let’s break down virtual training into its key components and help you to find out if it is a route worth considering for your business.
What is it? Let’s define virtual training
A virtual training programme, or VILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) takes the fundamentals of face-to-face, co-located classroom training and replicates the experience online, in real-time.
Put simply, virtual training uses live, interactive online workshops to provide training to your employees or participants using a virtual platform.
Employing training this virtual way mitigates the need for any travel or large financial expense while still delivering the required learning transfer in a fun, engaging way for all learners, regardless of their location.
With the constant improvement of virtual training tech platforms and the improved ease of use, companies are enabled to run more virtual training programmes than ever before. It allows employees to learn and interact together with colleagues from different locations or countries across the globe, increasing diversity within training programmes, and widening accessibility.
Learners can still practice, debate, share ideas and work on their soft skills within the classroom or workshop. Think of everything that can be achieved in a traditional classroom workshop, but instead, move it to a live online space. Increase the diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and dial down the impact on the environment, and the associated costs, and there you have it- a virtual training programme!
The results and experience are just as good and often better than in-person traditional 1 day sessions.
What are the pros of virtual training?
So, like everything there are pros and cons to virtual training, though we have found that many of them boil down to the experience had by the participants and skill of the virtual trainer. But let’s do a bit of myth busting- and discover key benefits of a successful virtual training programme.
One of the common misconceptions about virtual training programmes is that they won’t be engaging enough, and that people will be able to slip away and spend their time checking their emails or browsing on Facebook. With a skilled virtual trainer, this simply doesn’t happen. There are plenty of ways in which they can hold learner attention and keep them focused on the task at hand. I’m sure you remember being at school, and in some classes you would be staring out of the window, wondering when it would be time for break. Yet with other teachers, your attention was skillfully held the entire lesson, and your teacher ensured you remained focused throughout. Virtual training is no different- a good instructor, and the right tools, can make all the difference to a learner’s attention and engagement.
Virtual training programmes offer flexibility like no other training approach. Participants can fit the required, essential training sessions into their schedule, minimizing productivity loss as there is no travel or overnight stays. It provides greater work-life balance control and, particularly when managing large numbers, allows learners to choose training slots that work best for them. This flexibility also drives a higher attendance rate and engagement.
The convenience of virtual training derives from the ability to do it anywhere subject to a stable internet connection. It also offers employees the ability to schedule virtual training programmes frequently, without causing major disruptions to their regular working schedules or productivity. With virtual training, there is no need for trips out of the office, or whole days of work lost to long commutes to a central venue. Simply, participants log on at the time of their training and log off once they are finished, going straight back to their regular work.
When we consider the expense the physical, traditional classroom training carries; with the additional cost of hotels, venues, subsistence, transport, and so on, it is no wonder that virtual training can be much more cost-effective. By switching your training to a virtual alternative, you will be surprised to see how much further your training budget will stretch, with those additional expenditures removed.
Diversity and Inclusion
Ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity for training and personal development in a business has previously been difficult, especially if you have remote or home workers. With virtual training, this is no longer a concern. In fact, 87% of organizations are now using it to reach their geographically dispersed workforce.
Hosting your training session virtually means that anyone, in any location of the business can attend. With careful planning, you can even cater across time zones. Removing the need to travel to a central hub, or head office, for training means that now, your organization can equally provide learning to all its employees.
What is a typical virtual training session?
So what does a typical virtual training programme look like? Well, some of it comes down to the individual virtual trainer who is running your session, but for us, here at VTT, it looks like this.
- When the participants arrive, they are met by their coach, who has their camera on and is smiley and enthusiastic to meet them. They get to know one another while they wait for the other participants to arrive. During this time, the coach will encourage some interaction and discussion with the participants, whilst also helping them set up their virtual classroom to optimum effect.
- Once this is done and everyone is set up, the session can begin.
- Throughout, the coach will ensure everyone is engaged and has an equal opportunity to speak and interact with both themselves and the other participants. Contingent on the length of the session, there might be a short break in the middle too.
- The coach will make use of the chosen platform’s features and tools, such as chat, annotations, pointers and stamps to measure the engagement and foster some genuine interactivity from the group, so they really feel connected to the subject at hand.
- The time flies (you will soon discover virtual time runs differently to normal time!) and soon the end of the session is approaching. The coach will provide resources, a playbook, and a link to give feedback on the session that they have just experienced.
- After answering any last-minute questions or concerns that participants may have, the coach waves a cheery goodbye and looks forward to seeing the participants again in their next virtual workshop.
A virtual training programme offers advantages that face to face training often can’t achieve. It may be fairly new for some, but the more we learn about it, the more organisations are unlocking it’s huge potential as an alternative training approach.
Need help with transitioning your training to virtual? Contact us– we’re happy to introduce you to the world of virtual!