Many areas are currently being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic but workplace learning and training have been particularly affected. Many classroom-style courses have been canceled to protect the safety of tutors and learners. With so much focus on employee safety and business continuity, the importance of continued workplace learning can be overlooked.
Figures from McKinsey suggest that around 50% of classroom training through June 30, 2020 have been postponed or canceled in North America. This rises to almost 100% for parts of Asia and Europe. But key success factors for managing a crisis still apply, of which building resilience and preparing for when normality returns are amongst the most important. Companies cannot simply stop building and growing the skills of their employees.
While face-to-face training is a risk too far, virtual live training – and self-paced online learning – gives organizations a means to ensure staff development through these difficult times. Providing tailored digital training packages and virtual learning options means staff can continue to undertake activities of value to your organization during difficult times.
5 success factors in a virtual learning environment
Virtual learning can successfully offer educational opportunities during this crisis but only if learners receive the same type of engaging and interactive learning experience that one would receive in the classroom. Here are five ways to get more from your virtual learning environment:
1. It’s all about the trainer’s attention to the students
Although this seems to go without saying, virtual learning needs to be executed with special planning and care. Experienced trainers have a natural talent for focusing on the audience and spreading their attention between the whole class and individual learners in a physical classroom. The same mechanisms don’t apply in the virtual world. There’s no clearly detectable eye-contact. Attention to the whole class or support for individuals needs to be explicitly called out. The virtual world also offers many opportunities to easily fall below learner expectations. Who hasn’t seen a virtual teacher turning off his video camera and checking his smartphone, thinking they haven’t been noticed?
2. And, it’s all about the student’s attention to the trainer
If physical classes need to be engaging, that counts double in the virtual world. There are many opportunities for the trainer and student to shift their focus to other things during the virtual learning session. This can only be avoided by using even more techniques of engagement: more quizzes, more exercises, more peer-to-peer interaction. Students need to be challenged more to contribute to the class. And as much as possible, a one-to-one rapport should be established between tutor and individual learner, as this is the most effective way of engagement.
3. Complete, user-friendly technology
Virtual training fails if it falls short of providing the same technology experience as in-class delivery. Learners must have access to the same individualized hands-on lab experience of the system they are learning about. And, at the same time, they need access to collaboration technology for access to training material and video streams of their trainer. All these UIs need to be user friendly and work seamlessly with each other.
4. Meticulous preparation
Even more than in the physical world, classes need to be well prepared. Trainers need to know the content of their course and their students prior to class. They should have their delivery strategy planned out well. Systems need to be checked on both the trainer and the learner side. Does collaboration work seamlessly? Are there network limitations? Do students need two screens? All of these questions should be answered before the virtual class starts.
5. Conduct post-training analysis
It’s important to gather quality feedback. More than in physical delivery, customer satisfaction is less intuitively detected. Collect feedback explicitly and don’t just rely on overall grades. Record the events, analyze yourself and engage in a continuous improvement cycle.
Flexible and interactive IM learning services
Information management (IM) solutions are increasingly important during this pandemic as companies ensure that their information is always available where it’s needed. Enhancing IM skills means that your organization can gain more value from these solutions. OpenText™ Adoption & Learning Services has quickly reacted to address the challenges of COVID-19.
Building on the trend towards virtual learning over the last two years, in March 2020, OpenText Adoption & Learning Services were able to convert more than 100 different classroom-based training courses into virtual instructor-led events. These new virtual learning facilities have been designed to help your business today while preparing for a better tomorrow.