Transitioning From Classroom to Virtual Training
Virtual training was seen as a supplement to classroom training in the past. But in recent years, this has changed a lot.
A study by Deloitte writes that in 2021 “virtual learning will constitute at least 40 percent of the formal learning structure, with some organisations expecting this figure to reach as high as 90 percent. While virtual has become the new normal, it is crucial to ensure learning is interactive given today’s digital learner’s jobs, behaviours, habits, and preferences. About 62 percent of leaders conveyed that the focus of L&D teams has shifted towards making content “more interactive” using facilitator-led live instructional trainings, simulations, and panel discussions over conventional modes.”
Virtual training is often much more efficient than classroom training, saving time and money by reducing the need for travel.
We’ve previously shared our recommendations on making your virtual training more engaging. Today, we cover what to do during the initial transition from classroom training to virtual. This article will give you some ideas and tips on making the transition less daunting.
Before we jump into it, let’s first establish the pros and cons of each training type.
The benefits and downsides of virtual training
Virtual training has many benefits, including:
Reduced cost of travel and lodging
Increased training access for remote employees
More flexibility with scheduling
Less time away from work for employees and their managers
However, some downsides must be considered.
When transitioning from classroom to virtual training, it is essential to consider how this will affect the participants. Virtual learning requires a different level of interaction and other considerations. Here are a few:
Participants must be comfortable with technology and have a reliable internet connection to participate in synchronous sessions.
Participants must have the same access to resources as those in the classroom (the ability to share screens and documents, cameras, microphones, etc.)
Participants need the time and space to participate in synchronous sessions without distractions or interruptions.
Overall, the most important thing is good and timely communication. You should let everyone affected by the change know in advance and be prepared for what is expected of them in this new way of delivering learning.
Making the transition to virtual training
Assess the need
You shouldn't transform a classroom session into a virtual one just because everyone else is doing it or because it's considered "the future of learning". There are plenty of other learning methods and modes to consider when educating employees: articles, audiobooks, infographics, eLearning, job aids, books, handouts, on-the-job learning, mentoring, coaching, etc. Think about the best way to transfer that knowledge and choose the most appropriate method. And no, training is not always the answer - virtual or otherwise.
Consider the logistics involved
Introducing virtual training means you will most likely have to also introduce a new platform or tool that would help facilitate an online learning session. Unless you are using a tool that is already available and employees are using it daily, you'll have to also train people on the tool itself. Or at the very least, spend 5 minutes to get them familiar with the main features at the beginning of a session.
Keep your virtual classroom interactive
This is a whole topic in itself. We've created a separate article packed with helpful information. Check it out after you're finished reading this one: How to Deliver an Engaging Virtual Session.
Optimize your content
Not everything designed to work in a classroom will work in a virtual session and vice versa. Use the transition from classroom training to virtual training as an opportunity to improve your content. Consider which sections can be made shorter, more engaging, or delivered through different means (video, audio, online quiz, etc.) Incorporate various online tools to keep learners engaged for longer. Some of the tools we love using are:
Miro (web-based software that acts as a whiteboard or flipchart)
Padlet (for visualizing content in different, interactive ways)
PowToon, Vyond and VideoScribe (user-friendly animated video creators)
Kahoot (web-based games and interactive quizzes with leaderboards)
SessionLab (a vast online library of games and activities designed for virtual training)
Consider your own tech-readiness
If you're going to engage in virtual training, make sure that your computer has a microphone, camera, and speaker capabilities. You don't want to find out halfway through your first session that you don't have all the required equipment!
You'll also want to make sure you're accustomed with the platform being used for virtual training. If it's something new or unfamiliar, take time before your first session to play around with it and get comfortable navigating its features. That way, when a new employee joins your group for a training session and asks a question about how something works, you'll be able to answer it with confidence.
Get yourself a headset. Perhaps a second monitor, a digital writing pad, if you need one, maybe even a backdrop. Ensure you have easy access to all additional software and tools if you are using any and know how to operate them well.
Be ready to respond when things go wrong
What do you do when the connection drops on a participant or your own? What if your headset stops working? Perhaps the slide deck gets glitchy? Consider every worst-case scenario and have a plan for how to respond. Have the number of your IT department ready or be prepared with alternatives on how you will run the session. It might even mean having to move to a different software mid-session.
Knowing what you will do in unexpected situations will make you feel less anxious during the training. It will also leave a good impression on participants. Technology fails us all the time, but a good facilitator can turn a session around and make it a success, despite technical hiccups.
Measure your virtual classroom's effectiveness
Measuring how effective your training session is will help you pinpoint areas for improvement, content-wise and delivery-wise. Learners may give you some ideas and points to consider that you haven't thought about. But also notice what they are saying went well - these are things you can repeat and incorporate in other sessions in the future. The benefits of post-training feedback are numerous, and it's simply a good practice. You can create a digital survey to send post-training feedback using SurveyMonkey, which makes tracking responses and analyzing data really easy.
Transitioning from classroom training to virtual training is not as difficult as you may think. It could be seen as a challenge, and there are definitely things to look out for, but it's worth it in the long run, and it will most likely be the way of the future. Hopefully, the tips in this article have given you some ideas on how to shift your training online with confidence, knowing that you can provide a great user experience for participants.