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Virtual Training in a Pandemic: What We’ve Learnt

While many organizations had already set the ball rolling with virtual training and remote learning, others have had to play catch up during the pandemic. For some, their goal was to quickly move to virtual learning. Others needed to train people in disparate geographical locations. All had to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, and learn how to operate in the world we’re now in.

Whatever the case, lots of virtual training solutions out there fall short. Through talking to and working with many organizations throughout the pandemic, we’ve observed the challenges these shortcomings create. Which is why, 12-18 months in, it’s time to ask:

Is the current way of delivering virtual training as good as it can get? How best to overcome virtual training challenges?

Here, we share 3 virtual training challenges we see a lot of, and provide some ways to overcome them.

Virtual training challenge #1: Administrative headaches

Delivering virtual instructor-led training (VILT) comes with support tasks such as scheduling sessions, tracking trainees’ progress, managing learning materials, and many more. It’s typically very time-consuming to set up schedules using one tool, host video calls with another, and assess learners via yet another tool.

When VILT takes a long time to set up, you either need more people, or you deliver less training. It’s a business process crying out for some re-engineering! Finding ways to streamline the administrative side of training is a big win.

One thing’s for sure, it helps to have a solution that isn’t an island. Even functionality like the ability to integrate with a learning management system (LMS) can go a long way. This can simplify admin intensive steps like user registration, and the distribution of learning materials. This is where an all-in-one virtual training platform can help.

Challenge #2: Difficulty providing remote assistance

One of the benefits of instructor-led training is that instructors are available to provide support to learners. This is particularly important for VILT delivering training of complex software applications.

Providing hands-on virtual labs during training is a proven way to immerse learners in a semblance of the situation they are being prepared for. Whether it’s navigating network security events, or setting up process automation, virtual labs help learners try out different actions and see whether they get the right results.

Most virtual training methods provide a way for instructors to demonstrate capability, and labs are also often part of the training offering. The hard part is replicating the over-the-shoulder assistance an instructor provides in a physical classroom. With no visibility of the learner’s journey, it’s harder to intervene or help when there’s a problem.

Both instructors and learners can benefit from virtual hands-on labs with deeper engagement capabilities, transcending live chat to provide remote control of a user’s desktop. This, together with other features in a virtual training platform, can go a long way in facilitating the right mix of instruction and demonstration.

Challenge #3: Training teams lack control over their environments

This is another area where troubles on the trainer’s side can dampen the learner experience. For the trainer, simplicity is key in areas such as provisioning lab environments for learners. A good virtual training software should remove the training team’s dependency on IT by providing lab components that can be re-used, further reducing administrative headache.

It should enable instructional designers, curriculum developers, and training and learning architects to start from scratch or use a template, and possibly tweak it on their own. It also helps if they can import VMs that have already been created. Ideally, a VILT solution should reduce the need for intervention from the IT team, and give the training team control.

In the next blog post of our Virtual Instructor-led Training series, we’ll show you how to make your VILT program more effective.

If you’re looking to take your virtual instructor-led training to the next level, we can help. Speak to us about how to improve it here.