The global pandemic has caused businesses, schools and families to stop, pivot and rely on technology more than ever, as they make the rapid shift to a more virtual lifestyle. While the global workforce is adapting to this sudden shift to virtual communications and meetings, learning and development (L&D) leaders are reevaluating their approach to learning and looking at ways to seamlessly bridge remote workers with online learning.

Training Industry, Inc. research tells us that while instructor-led training (ILT) and on-the-job training are important and popular training approaches, eLearning, video, virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and webinars are also among the most commonly used modalities across training topics, including compliance, customer service, leadership development, onboarding, sales and technical training.

With so many possibilities for online learning available, including asynchronous training (i.e., self-paced eLearning), synchronous training, virtual instruction, virtual training labs, informal learning and virtual meetings, it can be challenging to decide on the best options. To assist you, here are three approaches to consider as you build a virtual learning experience for your team.

1. Virtual Instructor-led Training

Many organizations provide VILT, because it can provide a large audience of remote learners with live instruction; discussions; interactivity through functions such as chats, surveys and polling; and learning activities.

For technical topics that require real-time application of a software, a virtual training lab enables learners to practice in a pre-configured, non-production environment. Within the lab, the virtual trainer can monitor student progress and use shared screens, break-out sessions and digital whiteboarding to increase collaboration.

For example, ONLC Training Centers offered public virtual instructor-led classes on popular technology for 15 years. It combines experienced virtual instructors, proprietary technology, virtual labs and relevant content to make learning more accessible. Learners have the option to attend a virtual class at one of their sites across the country or from their own location. Its successful delivery of virtual learning stems from their offering a physical location where clients can take virtual classes.

“Having a place to go for training elevates the importance of the event,” says Andrew Williamson, president of ONLC Training Centers. “In addition to all the technology you need for a virtual class, we offer an interruption-free environment — unlike if you were to take a class from home or work. With over 300 physical locations, 85% of the U.S. population is within an easy commute to one of our training facilities.”

What about your instructor-led training? There may be some hesitation to convert these programs into a virtual format, especially for certain topics, but before you press “pause” on the training, adapting the content to a virtual format may be more beneficial than you think.

Take the important topics of diversity and sexual harassment prevention training, for example. Judy Kaye, JD, a TTA learning expert and diversity and sexual harassment prevention practitioner with over 25 years of experience, has designed and conducted hundreds of virtual and in-person interactive workshops. She shares a few advantages of conducting the class virtually, including:

    • The opportunity for students to examine their unconscious biases without the potential judgments or influence of those in a traditional class.
    • Learners’ willingness to share honest questions through private messages sent to the instructor.
    • The ability to effortlessly receive more accurate real-time results of implicit bias assessments.

“Even with a virtual format, you can convey an authentic and positive tone, respond in real time to participants’ needs, and tailor your examples to suit the organization’s industry and culture,” explains Kaye. VILT proves to be a powerful modality for remote learning and an effective component of any training delivery strategy.

2. Asynchronous Learning

Self-paced learning is a convenient option, because it provides easy access to training, enabling learners to fit it into their busy schedules. Many organizations use it to quickly scale training and to help track course completion.

Asynchronous training also engages learners and helps them retain information through different applications, like microlearning, gamification, digital tutorials, assessments, scenario-based learning, reinforcements and video-based training. Organizations can also easily update training content to keep the subject matter relevant.

Many L&D teams use eLearning to support a blended learning strategy. For an example, watch the video “Bringing Onboarding to Life: Transforming The New Hire Journey,” which provides an overview of the impact video has on supporting a blended training approach to employee onboarding. Regardless of your training topic, asynchronous online learning is a practical option for remote training.

3. Learning Platforms

Technology platforms play an important role in virtual learning. From cost-effective online meeting tools to highly integrated technologies like learning experience platforms (LXPs), the options range in functionality and purpose. Some platforms create a customizable learning experience with content guided by individual learner paths. For example, Intrepid by VitalSource offers a collaborative learning platform that creates an engaging online learning experience that easily scales and transforms the way learners experience sales enablement, onboarding, technology adoption and leadership training.

“In the current moment of social distancing, as workforces are disconnected and trying to figure out how to work together when apart, digital collaboration has become business-critical,” says Sanjay Advani, senior director of Intrepid Alliances. “We focus on collaborative learning that empowers an organization to solve [its] high-stakes business challenges through engaging and applied learning at scale. Learners particularly value the ability to apply their learning at work and to learn with and from peers, as part of their semi-synchronous collaborative learning journeys.”

These different types of interactive tools and learning platforms allow for learning experiences that can provide the knowledge-sharing and scale to reach thousands of learners.

Digital Collaboration

There are many virtual options to consider and online resources that will help guide you in selecting the best options for your team and employees. Combining the right tools, learning modalities and blend of interactions will make remote learning engaging and effective.

The current situation is an opportunity not only to engage remote workers and continue knowledge-sharing but to lay the groundwork for an exceptional virtual learning experience that will transform the future of work and learning.