Remote training is at the forefront of every L&D professional’s mind as the global COVID-19 pandemic thrust remote working into the spotlight. However, this crisis has merely accelerated a process that was going to happen anyway, as the remote training paradigm becomes increasingly popular with each passing month.
This method of training delivery has its own set of challenges that can catch even seasoned training professionals off guard. Here’s some actionable advice you can implement to overcome these remote learning challenges.
1. Distractions Everywhere
Distractions are a reality of remote work, and they become even more of an issue when it comes to remote training. A parcel delivery or a pet running into the home office is just a distraction if a learner is answering emails, but if he or she is in the middle of a virtual classroom session, it’s disruptive for everyone involved.
How to Avoid Distractions
Make it clear in all pre-training communication that the program is a formal training session that requires undivided attention is required. If possible, remote learners should have a dedicated, quiet workspace. Offer to assist employees who are having difficulties with scheduling or child care.
2. Scheduling Problems
Scheduling in-class training can be a headache, but scheduling remote learning can be an even bigger challenge. When you use a blended learning solution that requires attendees to commit to multiple synchronous and asynchronous activities (e.g., eLearning, virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and video check-in sessions), it adds another layer of complexity.
How to Overcome Scheduling Problems
A well-thought-out approach to your training schedule will enable all learners to access remote learning on a day and time that works for them — but it’s easier said than done. Fighting with multiple spreadsheets and email chains is time that you could be spending on your content.
Your learning management system (LMS) likely has a calendar function that can help you manage and schedule all of the training activities. Rather than having your training attendance confirmations and other important information across multiple platforms and files, the LMS can organize everything easily and quickly and automate invitations.
If you don’t have an LMS, see if you can leverage the scheduling and calendar functions built into popular webinar software and business apps.
3. Poor Online Training Content
What works well in an instructor-led training (ILT) environment does not always translate perfectly to good remote training. Presentations used in ILT may work in a virtual classroom context with a bit of tweaking, but for interactive eLearning courses, you will need to repurpose existing content.
How to Create Engaging Remote Courses
While there are some broader educational best practices and methodologies to consider, leveraging technology will also help. Modern authoring tools take the hard work out of formatting content and creating interactions that engage remote learners and encourage course completion. Look for an authoring tool that includes quizzes, assessments, dialogue simulations, and ready-made course templates that you can customize to get a course up and running quickly.
4. Technical Issues
Even in the classroom environment, it’s possible for technical issues to interrupt training sessions. Remote training is even more vulnerable. From unstable network connections to software bugs and training environment access problems, the list of things that can go wrong is extensive.
How to Prepare for and Avoid Tech Issues
Proper preparation goes a long way toward minimizing the likelihood of tech problems. If your learners know exactly what they need to do — and have tested logins, passwords and other essentials before the session — you will be in good shape. It’s also a good idea to start the session a little early and leave a buffer of time during which you can address any login or access issues.
For virtual classroom sessions with more than five attendees, it’s also a good idea to have a second facilitator to field questions and address tech issues via chat and email to avoid interrupting the class. If you’re running software training environments, also make sure to alert tech support and have them on call.
5. Learners Being Left Behind
In the classroom, the instructor can monitor the trainees and adjust his or her pace to accommodate anyone who needs extra time. In a virtual classroom, it’s more difficult to do so. Learners may stay silent or “put on a brave face” and then leave the training feeling despondent, frustrated and having learned nothing.
How to Create a Supportive Learning Environment
Set yourself up for victory by providing detailed information on how to access the training and ask questions and how any relevant software programs work. You should also provide details on how to ask for help at any stage of communications. At the beginning of the session, explain how attendees can raise concerns via a “hand up” or similar function. Again, consider having a cofacilitator who can answer questions online and chat directly with students who are having difficulties keeping up.
To Sum up
Remote employee training presents its fair share of challenges, and it can be especially problematic for trainers used to an ILT environment. The key to delivering any good training is planning and preparation, and remote learning is no exception to this rule. By taking the proper time to plan and keep participants informed, you will go a long way toward avoiding some of these remote learning challenges.