People often vow to make improvements at the start of a new year. Many initially progress but soon slip back into old habits. For those who do succeed, it often comes down to understanding their environment and where to focus on moving ahead. Not knowing what to discard or build upon, or trying to accomplish too much, can be overwhelming and discourage efforts.
The same applies to training. With a new report projecting the U.S. corporate training market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 10 percent by 2022, it clearly has become a vital function. At the same time, this anticipated growth is being driven by factors such as time and cost savings, mobile and remote users, online and on-demand access, and more, which means there’s a lot to consider.
That said, if there’s one overarching trend that chief learning officers and training executives should make note of among emerging corporate training developments, it’s that the cloud is the “great enabler.” The cloud can accommodate virtual training for mobile and remote workers, regardless of location. It allows self-paced and on-demand courses. And thanks to internet connectivity, equipment and technical concerns are often overcome.
In-person and on-premise training obviously has its place, but virtual training and IT labs are where the innovation and greater cost efficiencies are being realized. Here are specific areas to consider as you look ahead.
Multi-Step Classes Empower Instructors
Enterprises are embracing multi-step classes, where virtual instructors seamlessly guide students between environments without the need for additional classes. This removes complexity for participants while freeing up instructors by requiring less management time. Foremost, easily moving from level to level in a logical way results in far greater comprehension.
Furthermore, there’s a level of transparency that no other environment offers. With immediate supplemental information, instructors are able to view what students are doing as they’re doing it, enhancing their teaching. They are also directly interacting with students via interfaces that include chat in order to collaborate more effectively.
According to LinkedIn’s “2018 Workplace Learning Report,” as companies grow, they dedicate more budget to scalable online learning solutions that meet growing skill demands. As such, this real-time, over-the-shoulder monitoring, communication and control is quickly becoming the standard. Perhaps most important, it enables an instructor to recognize when a student needs help and offer assistance precisely when they need it most.
Self-Paced Training and Certification Programs Offer Students Convenience and Control
Mettl’s “State of the Workplace Learning and Development – 2018” found identifying company’s training needs is the second biggest challenge in learning and development. The first is getting employees to actually attend the training.
This is where self-paced training courses and certification programs are catching on: They provide students with learning that fits their schedules. Via the cloud, participants can access these programs wherever they travel and use the device on which they feel most comfortable. If they log out, they can pick up exactly where they left off when they return.
For companies and training managers, self-paced offers a hands-off experience that saves time and money. There’s no need to accommodate instructor schedules. What previously might have required a set multi-day course — one that may have needed repeating — is no longer necessary.
Many of the functions for setting up and provisioning self-paced virtual training can be automated and integrated with different learning management systems. Plus, if offered through a service provider, some include features that regulate access to help control costs. For instance, if a student fails to log out of a virtual lab, this idle resource can be automatically shut down to avoid financial surprises to those who may be paying for training based on a time constraint.
Gamification Fosters Interest and Measures Employee Readiness
Training is serious business, but at the same time, gamification of courses helps content take hold. A hands-on experience is one of the most effective ways to learn. By creating sophisticated gaming scenarios, many companies are now enabling students to experience near real-world situations first-hand, without fear of their mistakes impacting the business.
Security is a good example whereas it’s typically about solving a problem. Gaming scenarios to educate IT and security pros have become a popular use of virtual IT labs, which is why you’ll often see Capture the Flag-type games at security conferences. In fact, a recent study revealed 77 percent of U.S. companies with interactive employee-training programs have seen a reduced number of attacks.
On a related note, 3D is beginning to show up in training environments, which offers exciting potential.
Virtual Training Simplifies and Saves Event Training Costs
Traditionally, on-site training at events — sales kickoffs, partner conferences, product launches — has been a nightmare for planners. Even after a month of arranging for technology, teams spend too much time at events troubleshooting issues and training themselves so things run smoothly. For companies, the resulting costs are worsened by travel expenses to ensure all involved can attend.
Virtual IT labs for event training can reduce a month of planning to just a couple of days while eliminating infrastructure costs. For those unable to attend or too far away to justify travel, training can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection. In fact, an IBM study found every dollar invested in online training results in $30 in productivity. Some solutions enable multiple classes to be conducted simultaneously and for as many participants as necessary.
This simplification and savings made virtual event training popular last year and it’s on the rise in 2019.
We all want to improve, and it’s important to keep abreast of virtual training developments; technology changes fast and can impact competitive capabilities. Still, companies and executives must also look inward, and that brings up the final point.
Today, there are many tools that offer insight into performance. For instance, analytics for some virtual training and IT labs technology can assess results and calculate ROI. Then again, some companies now use training to gain qualified feedback from users, culling invaluable information that helps shape products and services.
Training is all about education, and in this realm, there will always be lessons to learn.
So long as we keep close watch.