What is virtual training?
Before getting into the details of virtual training, it may be beneficial to explain what virtual training actually is.
It is a training method in which a virtual environment is used by a trainer/coach to show, explain and teach certain skills in order to help others learn.
Virtual training, or Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) essentially takes the fundamentals of face-to-face (F2F) training and replicates the experience but through a virtual platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
The trainer/coach and their participants log into the chosen platform, from various independant locations. The workshop is live, so all the learners participate at the same time with one another.
Virtual workshops are super-interactive. There is the opportunity for participants to join in with discussions, share their experiences, practice skills and conversations and ask questions. Simply, great VILT workshops should be an interactive conversation, not just a presentation.
Commonly, virtual workshops are bite-size, running from 60 to 180 minutes and are sometimes combined with other methods of training; F2F or other online elements, such as e-learning or webinars, to create a blended learning programme.
You can read more on what is virtual training in our blog.
Why is virtual training important?
One of the significant benefits that virtual training offers is its ability to overcome geographical obstacles.
This allows people to gain access to training that would have otherwise been impossible. This is the power of virtual training; it allows learning for all, no matter where they are in the world.
This boosted inclusivity allows everyone within their organisation to have access to training in a structured and easily accessible way, removing the need for travel and time away from family or work. Home life remains uninterrupted and remote workers are always included in training.
In today’s environment, with the world in various states of lockdown due to Covid 19, organisations and businesses are making the move to virtual training much more rapidly than perhaps they had previously planned.
Whilst much of the rest of the world may have ground to a halt through the restrictions on F2F contact, migrating our work, our businesses and even our personal lives online has been a salvation.
On the back of this global shift, a Gartner CFO survey has revealed that 74% of CFOs and Finance leaders may move at least 5% of their previous on-site workforce to permanently work remotely ?once quarantine situations have been lifted.
What are the pros and cons of virtual training in L&D?
As with anything, there are both pros and cons to virtual training depending on the situation and circumstances of the business looking to implement it. Let’s go through them from each perspective.
Pro: Virtual training can provide great flexibility for participants as it can be designed or scheduled to best suit their needs; allowing them to attend courses and receive training without it negatively impacting on their work.
Con: Virtual training can provide great flexibility for participants as it can be designed or scheduled to best suit their needs; allowing them to attend courses and receive training without it negatively impacting on their work.
Pro: Learners who have an internet connection are able to learn anytime and anywhere through asynchronous virtual learning. They can fit it around their work day or workload with ease.
Con: This can be difficult when you have a lot of time zones to consider at once. Getting locations such as Australia to match up with other areas of the world can be difficult and thus impact on the easy convenience of virtual training.
Pro: The cost of virtual training is less than classroom training, as there is no additional cost from travel, venue or subsistence.
Con: None to report other than not being physically in the same space.
Pro: Virtual training allows you to learn in the comfort of your home or workplace, giving you the designated time needed to attend your learning; for example, just the workshop with no travel, hotel stays etc needing to be considered.
Con: Establishing the right environment for learning can be a challenge particularly if you are working from home or other remote location. At VTT we pride ourselves in delivering workshops specifically designed to hold participants' attention, keeping them engaged and involved with the session.
Is virtual training the right fit for my company?
You’ve considered the pros and cons of virtual training in a general sense, but now you need to decide if virtual training is the right thing for your company.
Well, if the recent few months with the challenge of Covid-19 are any indication, virtual training is on the rise. New social distancing rules will factor into our everyday lives for the foreseeable future.
So, what are the key areas to consider?
If your organisation has made a commitment to:
- Get more for less budget - the average cost of training is reduced significantly.
- Build inclusivity – learning for everyone, wherever they are.
- Improve wellbeing – reduce travel time and time away from home for learners and trainers.
- Go more digital – use better the technology you already have.
- Reduce carbon footprint – save the planet!
Or you have a workforce which is:
- Geographically dispersed.
- Becoming more flexible, remote, mobile.
- Needing to become more digital in approach.
- Is already digitally focussed and want their development via digital platforms.
Or there is a need for scaling and consistency so that:
- Employees in different locations have access to the same opportunities.
- Content and messages are delivered consistently.
- Training is delivered to everyone, everywhere, to the same quality.
- Programmes can be scaled quickly minimizing the use of resources.
If any of these apply to you, then it’s time to get thinking seriously about virtual training.
What kinds of industries have The Virtual Training Team helped move to virtual training?
A multinational optical retail chain contacted VTT as they had a challenge to resolve - they had worked internally to move their training to a virtual approach and struggled. The programme had been halted and the client needed assistance to re-engage trainers to successfully make the move to virtual training.
An insurance industry client posed VTT a challenge, resulting from engagement survey information evidencing that their managers needed to improve the quality of conversations concerning challenging issues. Managers were either struggling to induce difficult conversation or indeed were avoiding them entirely.
The solution needed design for both virtual and F2F delivery that could also be included in a wider leadership development programme.
We have also very recently helped several language schools who have been unable to run lessons as they would have previously . We have trained their language teachers on how to convert from classroom F2F lessons into running virtual lessons successfully. Their feedback was fantastic and they have now converted to virtual full time.
This was just the beginning as word has spread and now several other schools have decided to work with us at VTT, achieving similar results.
How can I convince my C-suite that virtual training is the way to go?
Alright, so we have you convinced. You know that incorporating VILT into your L&D offering is the right thing for your organisation.
But what if you need Exec sign-off?
These 9 tips may help you plan your approach, so you can make your recommendations in a balanced, well-prepared, credible manner …and hopefully be successful! (If not, just send them our way. We will set them straight.)
- Align your recommendations to your organisation’s strategy
- Cherry-pick benefits that will resonate with your Exec
- Be convinced yourself
- Create a balanced business case
- Get an Exec member onside before you present your case
- Use the science of influence
- Work up some example case studies that resonate with your organisation
- Stress the importance of upfront investment for long term gain
- Persuade the Exec to experience a VILT demo
We really must stress that the demonstration of a live virtual workshop is the way to go. It’s 45 minutes long, at a time to suit you and your colleagues, on a topic of your choice and absolutely free.
Alternatively, if you give your Exec all of the above and they still have questions, just get in touch with us. We’d love to help you get them convinced.
What about getting my trainers ready for virtual training?
A common misconception of virtual training is that you can directly take the material used in a F2F session and use it online.
You can do this, but unfortunately, it may not produce the results you were looking for.
That’s why we suggest all trainers get upskilled to both deliver and design online VILT courses. We offer a Train the Trainer programme ourselves to help you take that leap to becoming fully comfortable and confident when delivering online.
Still on the fence?
Well, here are ten benefits that getting upskilled in virtual training can bring you.
- Being VILT trained enables you and your trainers to deliver Blended Learning programmes incorporating both VILT and F2F
- Building your VILT skills can also help build your skillset for other things; such as webinars, vlogs and podcasting
- VILT makes your training budget reach further as costs per head are reduced thanks to no travel, no hotels, no meeting rooms or subsistence
- As the trainer managing your work-life balance becomes better as there is less travel once you move to VILT. Once the session finishes, you can get on with life, minus the commute
- Its super-inclusive and allows you to train your remote colleagues much more easily
- VILT approaches bring colleagues closer together, across multiple locations to share different perspectives, which makes it great for innovation and collaboration
- No clearing up your training room afterwards, simply close the window!
- Feel increased carbon-zen as you remove the need to fly, drive or get the train. And neither will your learners
- Future-proof your CV; VILT is only going to get more popular, make yourself future ready
- It is fun and engaging – once you nail it, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it
Investing the time to get upskilled and confident in running the tech platforms, designing the content specifically for the VILT environment, and delivering workshops that are super-interactive, engaging and boost learning transfer is really worth it.
If you are serious about looking into “going pro” and want some direction, or just some questions answered, please get in touch. We’d love to help you get started on your journey.
In the meantime, here is the link to our Train the Trainer programme brochure.Request Brochure Now
Is virtual training cost effective?
For many organisations, particularly with the Covid 19 crisis, budgetary control has become a major priority and will remain so for some time.
ATD's ‘Virtual Classrooms Now’ whitepaper reported that 81% of organisations have confirmed saving on travel costs as a main reason for transitioning to virtual training.
From our own research on a typical 1-day F2F workshop in the UK, Europe and USA, we found that there are surprisingly high costs incurred through travelling to a training event.
We discovered that for a single day workshop in the UK, for 14 people, a typical company incurred travel costs of more than £2300 ($3013/€2576)!
In addition to savings on travel, VILT delivery removes the additional costs of a training venue, providing meals, refreshments, printed materials and so on.
By adopting VILT as part of your training deliveryapproach, you can find a greater return for your investment, or simply save a large amount of your training budget, which can then be used elsewhere.
Can virtual training reduce my company’s carbon footprint?
In short, yes!
The pressure continues to rise for companies to reduce their carbon footprint due to the escalating global carbon emission reports, especially since the introduction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals initiative in 2015.
Virtual training can provide a large reduction in the carbon cost of training, simply through its principle nature.
- There is no travel required: learners can simply log on from home to attend their training sessions.
- It saves on paper: Trainers love a flipchart; many pages of which can end up in the recycling bin. By going virtual, all flipcharts become electronic whiteboards.
- There is no food wastage: all those biscuits, sandwiches and fruit left over from lunch don't now go in the bin? With virtual training, there’s no catering required, participants can be responsible for their own food consumption.
- No more printing: going paperless is important. Printing takes up an enormous amount of energy and carbon usage. Virtual training makes the handouts, folders and posters electronic. And there’s less chance you’re going to lose them!
Carbon usage is our planet-wide problem and must be tackled by us all, individuals and businesses alike. Investing in virtual training provides you with the opportunity to mitigate those big carbon impactors that traditional classroom training can cause.
To read a case study of the 'True Carbon Cost of Training' check out our blog.
Virtual training is the best alternative to F2F training events, allowing groups to come together at the same time from across the globe.
Led by a ‘live’ coach, interactivity is high between learners and delivered skilfully it carries the same energy and results as an effective F2F classroom environment. Transfer of learning is maximized through the use of technology and the ease of access and inclusion provides learning for all.
We think virtual training is going to be part of the new norm going forwards, and we would love to help as many companies as possible embrace it to unlock their full virtual potential.
So, reach out to us today. We’d love to answer your questions.