What is Virtual Learning?
It seems Virtual Learning is all anyone is talking about these days. For many people, it’s been a real challenge; recent events have led to some companies being catapulted into the virtual world without much chance to plan.
As such, it’s no surprise that quite a lot of people are still wondering: what exactly is Virtual Learning, anyway?
Put simply, Virtual Learning is exactly the same educational experience one would normally have in any given context, except that it’s done virtually through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) instead of being delivered face-to-face. Rather than getting participants together with an instructor in a conference room or classroom, an online platform is used to facilitate learning.
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This comes with its own benefits, and some challenges; so what are the main differences between the two approaches?
Differences between face-to-face / Virtual Learning
The biggest difference between Virtual Learning (VL) and face-to-face (F2F) Learning is accessibility. While F2F requires participants to physically be present in a room together, there’s no such requirement for VL. Anyone with internet access and the appropriate login details can access a VL session, and they don’t lose time or money on transportation.
As technology continues to improve, Virtual Learning continues to be more accessible for participants with additional needs - with Zoom bringing out live automatic captioning for example, so hard of hearing individuals can participate in training in real time without the need for an interpreter or other such accommodations.
The most common mistake made by those trying virtual for the first time is taking the exact same content they had planned for F2F training sessions, and presenting it on camera instead.
There’s no quicker way to disengage your audience!
The participants already have plenty of things fighting for their attention - if you’re reading off the slides in front of them, they’ll go back to checking their emails in no time. Virtual Learning material should be redesigned to fit the online context, using your platform’s unique tools to create engagement.
How to implement Virtual Learning
Choosing the right Virtual Learning Environment can be tricky. There’s a lot of options out there, and it’s not always easy to know which one’s right for you. Here’s a quick run-down of the most popular:
Here at VTT, we’re big fans of Zoom! It’s low-budget, simple to access and has a large range of features. Breakout Rooms, presenting from your slide deck, reactions and filters… Zoom has everything you need to get started with Virtual Learning.
Microsoft Teams is a solid platform for Virtual Learning. It was originally designed with office-wide collaboration in mind, rather than Virtual Learning, but Microsoft is putting in a lot of work to catch up to their rivals; they’ve promised updates with a lot of new features coming soon.
Cisco WebEx Training Centre
WebEx has a lot of features, but it’s quite high budget compared to the other options on the market. It can be a little unintuitive to learn, but once you’ve got a handle on it you can deliver some great content.
Design for Virtual
We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s so important we need to say it again! Your training materials should be designed with Virtual Learning in mind to make the most of the platform you’ve chosen.
Keep it regular
One of the benefits of Virtual Learning is that, due to its ease of access and time flexibility, it can be implemented with much less disruption than face-to-face learning. As such, VL can be run more regularly, allowing better learning transfer and reinforcement of the material.
Several bitesize sessions have proven to be much more effective in the long run than one long session; get your team set up with regular short workshops, rather than boring them to death with a full-day event!
If you’re in the process of moving to Virtual Learning and are in need of some guidance, our team will always be happy to help! Contact us to discuss how we can best assist you on your virtual journey.