Essential Guide to Virtual Training in 2023 (+ Tips & Tricks!)
As more work positions become remote, corporate trainers see the benefits of virtual training.
Virtual training courses are versatile, efficient, and economical. In a fast-moving world where constant changes are the new norm, they offer an innovative way to keep employees current with the best practices in your industry.
If you're not familiar with virtual training and how it can deliver ongoing education to your employees, you'll want to keep reading.
This post is the essential guide to virtual training, and we'll show you why it's an indispensable tool for your business training.
We've also got the best tips for creating effective and engaging eLearning content that sticks with your people.
Read on to find out more.
What Is Virtual Training and Why Is It Important?
Virtual training is simply a teaching method that takes place in an online environment.
While instructors and students are in different locations, the training participants receive is similar to in-person training.
Virtual training has significant benefits for employers. The primary benefit is location independence. Employees can be located anywhere they have an internet connection, and they'll receive the same information in the same time frame.
With remote working positions gaining prominence in the workplace, virtual training is the key to keeping everyone on the same page.
Pros & Cons of Virtual Training
There are some pros and cons you should consider as you implement your virtual training programs.
- The flexibility that comes with virtual training is one of its highest selling points. Participants in different time zones, with differing work and home responsibilities, can watch lessons at their convenience, whether that's 11:00 am or 11:00 pm.
- Virtual training is convenient. Participants only need an internet connection, and they can learn anytime and anywhere. This is a remarkable advantage for both remote workers and employees with hectic travel schedules.
- The cost savings with a virtual class is considerable. Companies don't need to pay for airfare, accommodations, venues, catering, or other expenses related to in-person events.
- Virtual training allows participants to craft a blended learning experience that best fits their learning needs. Students can watch courses from a structured office environment and then from the comfort of their homes.
There aren't many cons to virtual training, but here are two you should consider.
- A student who's undisciplined or lacks self-awareness may not set themselves up in the best virtual learning environment.
- Coordinating across multiple time zones can be tricky if you want to run synchronous virtual workshops.
Key Points for Consideration
Here are points to consider if you think virtual training might be a fit for your business needs.
- Do you have remote employees in multiple locations?
- Does your business need the flexibility to keep abreast of the latest developments in your field?
- Do you want to motivate your employees to be more independent and proactive in their ongoing training?
- Do you want your workers to take advantage of today's innovative learning technology?
- Are you committed to reducing your training budget while investing in quality training tools?
- Do you want your employees to access up-to-date training while reducing the typical travel time needed for that training?
- Do you want to identify skill gaps in your employees to laser-focus your online training?
- Do you want all your employees to have the same training, so everyone uses the same practices?
- Do you want online training materials that can be updated quickly and easily as industry changes happen?
It might be a good idea to conduct a training needs analysis.
Virtual Training Best Practices
We all know how even the best-laid plans have the occasional hiccup. Here are some ways to keep your virtual training running smoothly.
1. Be Prepared
To keep everything running smoothly, know your material.
You can't be an authoritative presenter unless you know what to teach, in what order, and how best to get that instruction across.
You should also be familiar with your tools. Do practice runs with all the technology you'll be using in your online course.
If someone else is teaching, help them prepare by creating a short instructional guide addressing the common problems you've experienced and the solutions you've discovered.
2. Plan for glitches
Another essential best practice is to have a backup plan for the inevitable problems with technology.
It never fails—the internet will go down, platforms will crash, batteries will die, the tech will go sideways.
Decide ahead of time how you'll handle the unavoidable glitches that pop up. Some things to consider:
- What will you do if you lose internet access?
- What will you do if you forget or don't have access to your video conferencing or other pieces of vital technology?
- Do you have extra power cords, batteries, hardware?
- What substitutes can you use if something isn't working, isn't available, or otherwise fails?
- How will you alert your students of any last-minute issues that compromise live virtual classroom training?
3. Use quality tech
It's good to be cost-conscious, but you should also invest in quality equipment and software for your virtual training program.
Quality equipment will not only give your learner a better experience on their end, but things will run more smoothly for the virtual instructor-led training as well.
And quality tools will probably last longer, making up for the initial upfront costs.
4. Take a test drive
Do a practice run of your virtual course, especially if you're going live.
Go through the entire training session, start to finish, so you can practice your material and get familiar with the online training software.
This trial run gives you the opportunity to work out any kinks ahead of time and find any potential trouble spots in your training.
5. Pre-game your learners
So that everyone is ready to go when the class begins, consider sending out preliminary emails to your students before the class starts.
Direct them to resources about using the eLearning platform. Ask your students to set course goals for themselves. Get them to think about their desired outcome from the virtual classroom courses.
These activities get everyone excited and invested in the learning opportunities ahead.
6. Greet your students
If your class is running live, be available and online before class time starts.
Greet people as they arrive in the virtual classroom, just as you would greet them at an in-person event.
7. Engage your learners
Create opportunities for your students to be active learners. Consider different learning strategies.
When creating course content, design opportunities for students to break into small groups to discuss what they're learning.
As you are teaching, ask open-ended questions and encourage students to respond in the chatbox.
8. Make expectations clear
Some students will be very comfortable with online learning. Others will be new to the experience.
- Will they be on camera or off?
- Will they be using the chat feature?
- Will you be bringing individuals on-screen with you?
- Will participants be muted?
Cover these expectations in an email sent before the first class. Then go over them again during your first meeting.
9. Don't bore your learners with a lecture
Stay on camera as much as possible and use engaging body language. Don't hide behind the screen.
Seeing your facial expressions and body language keeps your participants interested and attentive to the course material.
10. Ask for feedback
After the training is finished, do an anonymous survey to get student feedback. You'll learn where the course needs improvement and get ideas you can implement in the next round of teaching.
Virtual Training Tips & Tricks
1. Focus on the most urgent training
Because you have a finite amount of time, you probably won't be able to create all the virtual training courses you have on your wishlist.
Dial in on the courses most important to the business. Ask yourself: what are the current business goals?
Create the courses that have the biggest impact on your immediate needs, while still focusing on the long-term vision.
And as you brainstorm ideas and create your courses, you may discover some training that is better done in person. Set those courses aside and address them later.
2. Use different mediums
Use a variety of videos, slides, graphics, and animations to keep your students interested.
Use Q & As, breakout rooms, chat boxes, and polls to keep your students interacting with each other and with you.
If the chat boxes or polls become a distraction, you can always turn them off.
3. Utilize microlearning
Microlearning is an excellent virtual training solution.
Microlearning is when your training content is broken up into bite-sized chunks that are easily digestible for your learners.
And with so many people using mobile devices as their primary technology resource, microlearning is perfect for mobile learning so your learners can learn on the go.
4. Take advantage of AR
Augmented reality is a great resource for your virtual training.
AR gives you an opportunity to test students' skills in areas like safety compliance, product use, application, or sales scenarios.
It's also a way for students to get real-world practice without being in a real-world situation with real-world stakes.
5. Use scenarios
Use branching scenarios to let students choose different tactics and outcomes in test circumstances.
As an alternative, use a mystery scenario where students have some basic facts regarding a situation they might face in their work.
Using these facts, students work together to determine a course of action and the most likely outcome, based on their experience, general knowledge, and what they are learning in your course.
Student groups can compare how each group came to their conclusion and why.
6. Let the learners become the trainer
To encourage participation, knowledge retention, and keep learners engaged, let each student thoroughly analyze a topic, becoming the expert.
Then have them teach the others what they've learned about the topic and how it pertains to the business.
Some Other Things to Consider
There are some other things to take into consideration when implementing your virtual training program.
Not all learners are tech-savvy
Not everyone is comfortable with current technology and new ways of learning.
Direct them to the virtual training vendor's documentation and help center for students struggling or uncomfortable with your virtual training platform.
Your vendor will be the best source of instruction for using the online course platform.
If you've been using the same platform for a while and have any tips to share, create a Quick-Start Guide for your students and give it to them before the first class.
And encourage your students to spend some time getting familiar with the learning management system and technology.
Suggest they invest a few minutes of time finding their way around before the course begins.
(Pro Tip: Check out our list of LMS software for your online course delivery needs!)
Pick the right trainer
The person who leads the in-person training may not be the best person to run the virtual training. Some training providers struggle with new technology and methods.
Sometimes their teaching methods don't translate well across a screen. A virtual trainer needs extra enthusiasm that translates through the screen and grabs the viewer's attention.
If your facilitator is struggling, work with them to improve their online teaching skills or offer to find a replacement. It might relieve them to turn this task over to someone else.
Consider different assessments
Assessments you use for traditional classroom training may not work for virtual training.
Meet with course facilitators and subject matter experts to determine what virtual training resources will work best in a virtual environment.
One size does not fit all
Remember that what worked for in-person training may not work for virtual training. And not all students learn the same way.
Monitor the results you get from your virtual courses and track the data.
Does your training need to be shorter? Would different slides better demonstrate certain points? Are your students engaged in what they're learning?
Referring to the data can help you make changes as you move forward and tweak your training materials.
Are You Ready to Create Your Virtual Training Course?
Virtual training is a great resource for businesses and workforce development.
In today's rapidly changing environment, virtual training keeps your employees' professional development up-to-date while limiting the typical cost of face-to-face continuing education.
Now that you know the best tips and ideas for creating engaging and effective virtual training programs, you are ready to create your own virtual training courses.
What is the first virtual training you'll create for your business?