Virtual learning is this the new frontier?
So COVID-19 has changed a lot about our everyday life and not all of it bad. It has pushed things that were possible into becoming things that are necessary for the world to keep revolving. In the world of Learning & Development (L&D), this is true of virtual learning, running live training workshops and programmes via communication platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and many others.
Virtual Learning events add another option to any learning solutions and design. Still, they are not the answer to everything and while everyone is trying to find where they fit in the L&D menu here are a couple of thoughts on the subject to consider:
Short and Sharp
Virtual learning events that last all day will not be as productive as the same event run in a face to face way. However, virtual learning events that are short and sharp can deliver immediate impact that is more effective than the same content run face to face.
Apply the length of feature films as the guideline; most films are under two hours and all virtual learning should be the same. As with a movie, one in a day is probably enough even if you have a decent break in between them. As for the box-set binge, it elicits a very passive state when you watch over three episodes back to back.
Making sure people are always involved in the session is vital, so getting people to do things is critical with virtual learning. It means written as well as spoken activity. Many software packages are disappointing when it comes to interactive whiteboards and they are very much an add on. The ability to type things in reduces the chances of the more outgoing people taking over others and also encourages the quieter people to get involved.
Material that is used should be interactive linking people to resources on the Web. Merely sending a soft copy of the workshop material doesn’t bring it to life, having interactive electronic content does.
Audio and Visual
Virtual learning will be an invaluable tool when it comes to L&D when used appropriately and not merely because it’s the latest thing, or it seems like a way of reducing the travel budget.
For training can be moved from one channel to the other (face to face, e-learning or virtual learning) there has to be a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each and when they are appropriate and when they aren’t.
Now there is the potential to train everyone in an organisation regardless of location and to make sure that there is a real cross-fertilisation of ideas and a reduction in local interpretation. A two-hour session involving people globally, all getting the same message and interacting with each other has the potential to be game-changing and immediate.
Rather than the rollout process that takes weeks and faces the challenge of that might work here, but it would never work there.
Training programmes can be designed to deliver material in small chunks and allow people to practise in the real world immediately after and come back and report to it has gone.
Virtual learning will be an invaluable tool when it comes to L&D when used appropriately and not merely because it’s the latest thing, or it seems like a way of reducing the travel budget. As training can be moved from one channel to the other (face to face, e-learning or virtual learning) there has to be a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each and when they are appropriate and when they aren’t.
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