COVID-19 has turned the training world upside down. You've heard of flipped classrooms? Well guess what... now they're all flipped with virtual training! How do you deliver training when people can't gather together physically, for meetings, for training, for projects… for anything? You can either cancel all your training or you can find another way to do it.
You Have 4 Basic Options for Virtual Training...
Say hello to the virtual classroom. They've been around for awhile, but virtual just jumped from the back seat to the driver's seat. After working in the Learning and Development industry for 30 years, I’ve seen and tried lots of different virtual platforms. Here is what we’ve learned over 3 decades of experimenting, failing and succeeding.
Option #1: License a Content Library
Did you know in the early 2000’s when you purchased a server from Dell the sales representative would ask you if you wanted training with that? For a nominal fee you could get one year of access to thousands of online classes (CBT). These libraries of content still exist today in popular sites like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, SkillSoft, or even YouTube where the price is nice!
- The price per learner is the lowest you’ll find
- Thousands of courses are available
- Learning is self-paced
- Tracking for Individual Learning Plans can tie into your LMS
- The quality has improved dramatically since 1999!
- Learning is "one-way" with no access to an instructor
- Coaching and Feedback are not available to students
- No customization of content to your organization
- While good for foundations, sometimes difficult to find advanced training
Option #2: Outsource the Training
This is where you find a partner to deliver virtual training to your group. There are many organizations like AMA, iSpeak, ATD, and Franklin Covey who provide Open Enrollment dates for virtual workshops. Some of these companies also provide private virtual classes that can be custom tailored to your company.
- Live instructors engage with students and provide coaching
- No need to purchase long-term license for content or virtual platform
- Most will offer some customization to your specific needs
- Many options for providers in this highly competitive space
- Compared to the price of building your own, pricing is very reasonable
- By far, the most effective option for facilitating change in behaviors
- In open-enrollment classes, students may not be able to relate as well to all topics
- So many choices, finding highest quality provider can be challenging
- Best quality tend to be specialists so, need for many topics means need for many partners
Option #3: Do it Yourself
Another option is to build out your own virtual training. Tools like Zoom, Moodle, Google Classroom, Adobe Connect, Skype, Trainual, Learning Stone, Lessonly, and GoTo Meeting make it look so simple to go virtual. While the platform can be showcased for its features and its price, the bigger question to consider is the total cost of ownership. Just like there is no such thing as a free puppy, there is no such thing as “low-cost virtual training” if you plan to build it yourself. It is a lot more than just loading a PowerPoint deck into a virtual platform.
If you do want to pursue this route, please consider the following. First, you need to split all your training by considering which topics can be one-way communication and which need to be two-way with instructor coaching or feedback. Then, put your one-way classes onto the platform like Trainual or Lessonly. These will include your process driven training like how to complete an expense report. The softer skills like presenting or leadership communication will require interaction with a coach.
For live instructor virtual workshops, we’ve found Adobe Connect to be the most engaging platform. It allows for video, slide sharing, screen sharing, whiteboard, polls, videos, breakout rooms, and multiple classroom layouts. The other platforms have some of these options, but the layouts feature in Adobe Connect is the tie breaker!
This path is expensive because of the time it takes to develop your own, not the price of the platform. The platforms are all reasonably priced.
- You have total control to customize everything and build what you want
- Modern tools are all well-equipped (Adobe Connect is only one with layouts)
- You own it once you’re done
- It is the most expensive because of the development and training required
- If you and your team are not content developers, it creates development challenges
- It takes the most time to get it up and running
Option #4: Some Combination of all three
In reality, many larger organizations have some combination of all three options. This makes sense because it allows you to focus on the best (pros) of each option, while minimizing the cons. Our recommendation is that you look at your training needs and break them down into three categories:
- Required –compliance training, onboarding, diversity training, CPE
- Technical Skills –software training, online forms or systems, typing, project management
- Soft Skills – presentation skills, corporate storytelling, leadership communication
Then look at which tools best fit your needs. The required and hard skills can function nicely in a one-way virtual communication format. The softer skills, like delivering an influential message or commanding the room can use one-way virtual formats to lay the foundations. But, the applied soft skills should be done in a live virtual format with an instructor. This lets the students try their new skills in virtual breakout rooms and receive feedback from the coach.
It can be overwhelming…
But don’t let it. As Steven Pressfield, Author of “The War of Art,” says “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
It’s time to get to work. Let me know how we can help.
Russ Peterson Jr.
Learn more about iSpeak Virtual Workshops and training.
Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and President of iSpeak, Inc. – An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published author on Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. iSpeak helps people build stronger relationships through better communication. You can connect with Russ directly through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.