As businesses across the world found themselves firmly in the grip of COVID-19, they have been forced to rethink how they conduct business and train and equip their employees to meet the challenges posed by its associated disruptions. For example, the pandemic has forced organizations to enable many employees to work from home while making sure that training does not take a back seat. After all, learning must continue in other formats so that employees stay up to date on company products or services and sharpen their skills. And, of course, onboarding new hires cannot be put on hold.

Some companies have responded to the pandemic by cutting their training budgets, as is common during times of economic uncertainty. But these companies forget that training is important, regardless of what is happening inside or outside the company. Whether business is good or suffering, and whether there is a pandemic or not, employees need training in order for their organization to remain competitive.

To bring your training back on track, it’s time to opt into online learning formats. Here are two options that work well:

Self-paced Learning

While some content or classroom training is a good fit for virtual instructor-led training (VILT), other content can be delivered without an instructor through self-paced eLearning. Learners can consume this content online or offline and, if they pass assessments, receive a certification.

Virtual Instructor-led Training

It a common-sense approach, as it’s possible to convert all previously face-to-face training into VILT. However, going virtual is not easy or automatic. Virtual training requires a different approach and different skills than in-person training. Sessions cannot be overly long, technology needs to work effectively, and the instructor needs to deliver content in a way that is engaging and interesting for remote learners. Furthermore, many people are averse to using webcams as they work from home, which is another challenge to address.

Here are some helpful tips when creating and administering VILT:

Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Training

    • Provide opportunities for your instructor to practice teaching online.
    • Check technology beforehand, including your instructor’s and learners’ internet connections.
    • Factor in sufficient breaks.
    • Provide enough advance notice to learners so they can prepare. In this case, what works for a classroom training session will work well in an online environment as well.
    • Address ground rules and housekeeping, even in online sessions. For example, in a classroom, trainers set rules such as keeping phones in silent mode. In VILT sessions, it’s similarly important to establish rules, such as avoiding cross-talking and answering all poll questions.
    • The instructor should take control of proceedings and inform participants when they can chat or ask questions.

Create Engaging Content and Slides

Make sure all content and slides used during virtual sessions are engaging, interesting and crisp. Avoid long paragraphs, create bullets for important points and use images to keep learners’ attention.

Use Media for Better Engagement

Use videos and other engaging media to keep the learners “hooked” to the presentation. They can also act as a breather; if a virtual training session is long and full of slides, a video can act as a refresher for the participants, boosting engagement.

Use Chat, Polls and Breakout Sessions Wisely

Using the various features of online tools, such as polls and breakout sessions, helps improve training delivery. Learners are more interested when there is a personal touch, and they feel motivated to learn when they have opportunities to speak up and express their thoughts.

Converting your existing in-person instructor-led training (ILT) or classroom sessions into impactful virtual training or eLearning will help you bring training back on track during these difficult times. Digital learning is only going to increase in popularity and necessity in the coming months, so take advantage of these tools now to improve learning in your organization.