Wouldn’t it be great if life were like a Staples commercial—where an “Easy” button could create a virtual classroom for registered students on demand?
If you are like many of the virtual training customers I engage with every week, then your daily work life could not be further from the aforementioned situation. So, how do you create your own “Easy” button?
Based on my experience over the past several years, training organizations can usually be placed into one of two buckets.
Bucket number one is comprised of those that have yet to introduce a formal virtual training option for their customers. This is a team that currently flies a trainer onsite for a minimum number of days/trainees. Your customers are not only passing on additional training due to your minimum requirements, but additional upgrade opportunities are being missed altogether as a result of low adoption.
Bucket number two belongs to organizations that have an established virtual training practice, but have been struggling with ways to introduce greater automation—to better align registration with classroom creation, for example. Perhaps, you are an independent software vendor (ISV) who ghosts images in a physical PC lab where GoToMyPC links are emailed out to students a week before class. Adding a student at the last minute is next to impossible and resetting PCs for the next class can take up to four hours.
No matter which of the two situations you identify with most, improvements to training delivery can be unlocked with a simple and possibly surprising key.
An application programming interface (API) is one of the smallest, most powerful and most overlooked tools when it comes to a virtual training solution. Simply put, an API is common protocol that allows multiple software solutions to send requests and data points back and forth. I have seen countless organizations send their virtual training solutions into a tailspin as a result of selecting components without an open API.
You may be wondering: What in the world does an API have to do with an “Easy” button?
The reality of today’s virtual training solution landscape is that not one vendor has an outstanding one-size-fits-all solution. And, an API is an easy way to create a scalable, component-based virtual training solution. Pivoting a solution around your specific needs, and the availability of an open API, will allow you to introduce the components you deem important now (Bucket #1), while adding in additional components or automation (Bucket #2) at a later date. You may decide that a learning management system (LMS) is your ideal starting point. Perfect. Just make sure your LMS of choice has a viable API that can help automate classroom creation when you introduce a cloud-based student lab as the virtual classroom component.
Start with the virtual training components that are most important to you today. When the time is right, introduce the additional API-ready components down the line. Your ideal overall virtual training solution really can be that easy.