4 Secrets to Keep Virtual Learners Engaged in Instructor-Led Training
Let's go back in the virtual training time machine, back to not-so-long-ago when video-conference technology first allowed remote learners to join In Real Life classes.
Training pros will recall how while they were initially thrilled about the ability to conveniently connect with offsite students, the high-tech learning modality soon revealed some major flaws:
- Shoddy Internet connections
- Students not feeling connected to the instructor and fellow classmates
- Lower learning retention rates for remote learners
- Unaccountable students getting lazy as if stricken with the corporate training version of Senioritis!
There is no doubt that there are many advantages to virtual learning—from cost savings to overcoming geographic barriers—but researchers have found that a successful virtual training program comes with some caveats. To help you avoid some of the common learning barriers to virtual training during instructor-led training events, we have come up with four secrets to making sure your offsite learners remain as engaged as possible with their business training program:
1. Don't Rely Solely on Virtual Training
Even if your business utilizes the latest in virtual learning technology solutions if your program is overly reliant on distance learning it has been proven that you are less likely to achieve your corporate training goals. While we do live in very high-tech times, where video tools such as Facetime and Zoom and even Snapchat are becoming increasingly popular modes of social communication, using just technology means your business eventually will hit a wall when it comes to the learning environment.
As pointed out by Forbes, the virtual business environment can feature five "killers" to your corporate operations:
- Lack of in-person verbal communication
- Lack of social interaction
- Lack of trust established through personal interaction
- Creates cultural mishaps
- Kills team spirit
The business takeaway from this is that employees can only sit alone and watch videos or remotely connect to instructors for so long before they begin to disconnect. Technology does enable connections that previously weren't possible, but industry research reveals that it doesn't offer the same benefits of face-to-face communication. So it's a training industry best practice to make sure your learners get a healthy mix of in-person classroom instruction.
2. Use a Participation-Enhanced Virtual Learning Platform That Makes Students "Visually Accountable"
Not all virtual learning technologies are created equal. One of the extinct dinosaurs of the old days of remote learning was technology in which the students could not be seen or heard by the instructor or other students.
Today, however, there is technology that allows instructors to see and hear remote students in a virtual "back row of seats" through a set of extra-large monitors in the rear of classrooms; further, students also can participate fully—that is, be seen and heard as well as see and hear the entire classroom—with participation-enhanced features that allow instructors to make eye contact and involve remote learners.
3. Include a Cloud-Based Learning Solution in Your Training Program
Many businesses are utilizing cloud computing to create a virtual lab that allows training organizations to set up one or more virtual machines that can be accessed by their learners on any computer with an internet connection. This type of training is especially effective for software training or other instructional events where a learner must engage on a computer interface in real-time with an instructor.
With these interactive cloud labs, learners can simply access the training lab through a secure internet connection, allow users to train on virtually any software—regardless of the operating system or computer hardware of their workstation.
Additionally, the virtual training environment makes it possible for learners to access multiple virtual machines in order to train on multiple operating systems and hardware configurations—providing the ability to train on complex systems seamlessly, without significant setup time.
There is no question that cloud-based labs can benefit training organizations who are providing instructor-led classroom training, remote training or hybrid learning.
4. Make Sure Your Training Facility is Equipped With Proper Tech Support
What's worse than a totally checked-out remote learner playing video games while classroom learners sit fully engaged in a session? Well, that is a pretty bad outcome, but perhaps equally worse is when your training facility doesn't have the necessary equipment or even bandwidth to support virtual learners. In fact, maybe when there is a lack of student engagement it can be for the simple reason that their video connection is choppy, intermittent or even non-existent. To avoid this common pitfall, you should consider holding your training events at an offsite venue operated by a full-service training solutions provider.
Remember, engagement is the goal; the platform you use to achieve it is the choice you make. As training professionals, your choices have a great impact on company culture, productivity, and profit.
Yet achieving worker engagement is a challenge for most companies. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 32 percent of workers report being "engaged" with their work—that is, feeling involved, committed and connected to what they do and for whom they do it.
Training is a proven tool for worker engagement. The most successful training programs incorporate all the tools of a modern corporate learning environment, and when used in the most efficient and effective way possible, virtual learning can be a powerful tool to engage learners.
Learn more about how to best optimize your company's virtual training experience by reading MicroTek's guide: