Virtual classrooms have many moving parts. It’s not quite as simple as taking an existing curriculum and delivering it via Zoom. You have to factor in how trainers and students will be logging into the training system, how they can troubleshoot any technical issues that arise along the way, and how you’re going to create an engaging and frictionless experience.
You need to consider the training experience for both sides. Are trainers able to focus on delivering an outstanding learning experience and bring their expertise to the forefront, or are they bogged down dealing with IT issues? Are students able to interact with instructors and receive the help they need in real-time? Are they spending their time on high-quality learning, or are they wasting valuable time having to first master the use of the training software?
These are all important factors to think about when you must pivot from in-person training experience to a remote training environment.
Here’s what some of the experts have to say about how to set up your virtual training environment in a way that best supports both trainers and students, so that everyone can focus on what’s really important – learning.
David Hand, at Training Magazine, says that it’s critical for students to have a properly configured environment in order for virtual hands-on training to be successful. He wrote a list of “5 Blunders to Avoid” when moving training online:
- Don’t use your existing web conferencing tools – you need a dedicated virtual training software that includes preconfigured training environments for all participants.
- Don’t expect students to install software before the class begins – oftentimes they don’t have the right machine-level permissions to install it themselves, and the instructor will have to spend precious learning time troubleshooting this with the student.
- Don’t copy-paste your training materials into the virtual classroom – you’ll need to adapt materials by making them shorter and breaking up learning into multiple sessions.
- Don’t assume students will know how to use the virtual training environment – it’s always best to offer an “open house” beforehand that lets them connect to the system and learn how to start up their virtual lab resources.
- Don’t assume that you’ll know when a student needs help – make sure that your training software can monitor what students are doing in real time and that they can electronically raise their hand if they need assistance.
We couldn’t agree more with all of the points that Hand raised. There is a huge difference between using a dedicated training software and simply patching together web conferencing tools. Having the right software in place allows trainers and students to avoid the headache and hassle of having to troubleshoot technical issues at the beginning of the class. Everyone can focus instead on the learning experience. It enables instructors to deliver high-quality, interactive training, so that students come away with new knowledge and practical applications for what they’ve learned.
Christopher Huber offers his insights in eLearning Industry on how to choose an online training platform. First, he says, it’s important to define what you’ll be using the platform for, who will use it, and under what conditions. For example, do you need a hands-on lab environment; how many students will there be in a classroom; do you require multiple languages; where are students located?
Some other factors to consider, he says, are:
- Features – If you’re looking to run interactive and engaging learning experiences, you’ll need presentation tools, hands-on labs, chat, screen sharing, assessments, etc. It is wise to choose a vendor that offers all of these capabilities in one package.
- Technical support – You must be able to provide support to students wherever they are in the world, and at whatever time they are logging in to the virtual classroom. This takes the burden of support off of the instructors, letting them focus on delivering a high-quality training experience, and allows the students to easily resolve issues and focus on learning.
For any business that’s looking to deliver engaging, high-quality training on a global scale, your best bet is to choose an all-in-one training platform that covers your needs from A to Z. With the right technology in place, both trainers and students can focus their time and effort on learning and get the most value from it. As well, this will position you to easily scale your training in the future and further grow your business.
Donna Weber, President of Springboard Solutions, wrote a “Guide to Successfully Training Customers Remotely,” where she provides tips on how to transition to virtual training.
What’s right for your business will depend on whether you’re already offering virtual training or just setting it up now; the size of your business; and your current resources. The overarching goal, she says, is to “integrate these technologies to serve up a seamless experience for learners.”
Weber has laid it out very simply, and it’s clear that the information that she provides is directed at the newcomers to the virtual training scene. We think this is great information for those who are just getting started, and certainly lays out the options in a concise way. This is a good starting point for businesses as they begin their research into which software and tools can meet their needs. For businesses that are looking to create a strong foundation for customer education and build a scalable program, we would highly recommend reading through the other informational articles that we mentioned above in this post, as they dive deeper into the decision-making process that takes place when choosing the right training software.