Moving Training Sessions Online: What to Consider
You’ve decided to convert some of your organization’s in-person training to an online format. What do you need to consider in order to make the change successful? The list of questions below is not comprehensive, but it is a useful starting point as you begin to discuss the transition.
Why are you moving to online training?
Build consensus among stakeholders about the primary reason(s) for moving to online training.
Some common reasons are:
Social distancing needs: You may need to keep learners physically separated to minimize health risks.
Cost savings: You might save significantly if learners are otherwise traveling to training sessions.
Remote workforce: You may need to include learners who work remotely or travel for business frequently.
Technological tools: You may want to take advantage of interactive features of a virtual classroom that are not available in a traditional classroom.
If everyone on the team is clear about why the change is being made, it will be much easier to gain buy-in and to answer the other questions below.
What type of online training will you implement?
There are two main types (or modalities) of “online” training:
Virtual training is conducted in a virtual classroom with a live facilitator at a set time.
eLearning usually consists of courses or modules that learners can complete at any time and at their own pace.
Determine which modality best fits your needs. Keep in mind that technology needs, training design, and implementation considerations will vary significantly between these two types.
Note that many training programs blend different modalities. A single program might include components that are virtual, eLearning, traditional classroom, and/or on-the-job tasks.
What content will be included in the online training?
Not all content is conducive to online learning. Would you want a surgeon to operate on you if they had only had online training? Of course not. You might be comfortable with them learning some foundational knowledge online, but you would expect that they have also had hands-on training in a hospital setting.
While online learning does have some limitations, you might be surprised at how effective it can be for a wide variety of content.
Some examples of content that can be taught effectively online include:
Policies and procedures
New employee onboarding training
Foundational knowledge prior to hands-on training
What technology will be needed?
For both virtual training and eLearning, you’ll need to consider what software will be needed (such as a virtual classroom platform or learning management system), and what hardware will be needed (such as computers or mobile devices, headsets, or webcams). If you already have a learning management system, determine whether you need to integrate any new software with the existing system. Also consider internet bandwidth needs for facilitators and learners. If you’re planning for virtual training, decide whether to use conference calling or internet calling (VoIP) for audio.
How will the training be designed?
The design of the training will need to be revised to be effective in an online environment. Even if the content is similar to what was taught in a traditional classroom, the way participants learn it will be different. The agenda or schedule should be divided into shorter chunks of time. Activities, presentations, interactions, assignments, and discussions should be tailored to the virtual or eLearning format as well.
What else will be needed for implementation?
Plan for how training requirements will be communicated to learners and their leadership. Will they have a location that is free from distractions and adequate time allocated to complete the training?
Think about what will be required in terms of staffing. For virtual learning, will you need one or more facilitators? Some organizations also have a producer in a virtual classroom who runs the technical elements, while the facilitator focuses on instruction. For eLearning, will you need an administrator to set up and manage courses?
What is your budget and timeline?
When planning your budget, consider these possible costs:
Delivery platform and other software
Additional hardware/equipment, if needed
Conference calling fees, if applicable
Instructional design and development
Staffing (facilitator, producer, and/or administrator, if needed) and possible training of staff
Consulting fees, if applicable
Consider when the training needs to be delivered. If the timeline is tight, you might make decisions in the interest of reducing preparation and design time. If the content is highly complex or critical, you might choose a longer timeline to maximize the training’s quality.
The success of any training program depends on effective planning and preparation. Answer the questions above, and you’ll be starting on the right track toward helping your workforce learn effectively, and ultimately move toward your business goals.
Would you like to discuss this topic further? Our principal consultant, Leah Yeatts, offers complimentary, one-hour, virtual consultations. Schedule by emailing her at Leah@Leverperformance.com.