For many years, trainers used long-standing structures and formats to guide the development of their training programs and the impact of these programs on trainees. But in recent years, as technology and online connections have become an integral part of an employee’s life, trainers have had to think differently about how and where employees receive training. That’s why, even before the pandemic, effective trainers were developing and delivering comprehensive virtual training programs. These virtual training programs were developed to connect and instruct trainees where they spend a majority of their work day: online. Virtual training includes the lessons, interactions, and evaluations that were a valuable part of on-site training but delivers that content in a virtual, easy-to-consume way that resonates with learners.
What is Virtual Training?
Virtual training refers to any training in which the trainer is in one location and the trainee is at another site connected by the internet, computers, or mobile devices. Depending on their goals, trainers can choose from several different types of virtual training, including synchronous training, asynchronous training, peer-to-peer training, and on-demand content that is available to the trainee whenever they need it.
Table of Contents
Why is Virtual Training Important?
Virtual Training Benefits
Virtual Training Costs Less Than Onsite Training
There are costs inherent in any onsite training program. Companies must fund trainers, facilities, travel, and food expenses, as well as the cost of the employee being away from their job. Virtual training makes better use of resources, time, and money. Trainers can record asynchronous training videos from anywhere and share them with trainees virtually. Employees can view the video when they have time and attention to devote to learning, without taking time away from their work.
Virtual Training Is Targeted to the Individual
Trainers today recognize that not all employees learn the same way at the same time. One of the critical values of virtual training is that it can be targeted based on the skills, learning styles, job performance, and role of the individual. Instead of presenting the same content to a roomful of employees, trainers can use video to deliver focused content for each learner. Moreover, trainers can gain feedback from the trainees and use this feedback to gauge learning and further target new training materials.
Virtual Training Helps Trainees Retain What They Learn
In-person training usually involves several days of lessons and learning at an office or offsite location. But all too often, by the time the employee is back to their desk or boarding their flight home, they will have forgotten sixty percent of what they have learned. Virtual training gives employees access to the important lessons long after the training is over. Trainers can follow up their virtual training with shorter, bite-sized videos that provide details on specific lessons or concepts. The employee can view these more concise pieces of content to reinforce what they learned and apply it to how they do their job.
Virtual Training Expands Learning
In older training models, the trainer or manager was the expert, and they shared their knowledge with the specific group of trainees. But many organizations realize that some of the best trainers are other employees who are excelling at their work. Virtual training lets organizations tap into the knowledge of these employees and create peer-to-peer learning. Leaders can create videos of their best practices and share them with the team. Once viewed—and learned—team members can also share videos of themselves that showcase how they have mastered the skill, further expanding the learning.
Virtual Training Can Be Deployed Quickly
Organizations move fast, with products, messages, regulations, and market opportunities changing regularly. Virtual training is an essential resource for getting—and keeping—all employees on the same page. Training videos can be created and deployed quickly, giving all teams access to the essential details needed to say in the know.
Why is Virtual Training Challenging
Adapting Training Content for Virtual Environments
Many organizations moved to quickly transform their onsite training to a virtual training model during the pandemic. For many, this meant simply taking their in-person training and presenting the same content online. But ensuring that trainees are engaged and learning requires more than just moving existing training content to a virtual setting. Trainers must adjust the way their training content is presented.
Engaging Distracted Attendees
When attending training sessions in person, trainees must conform to specific professional standards. It’s hard to imagine an in-person trainee constantly leaving the room to take calls or speak with others. But different rules apply in virtual training. Virtual trainees may be attending from home, where there can be distractions from family members or pets. If they are participating in the training virtually from the office, they may be interrupted by co-workers or conversations happening in the office. And no matter where they are, it’s highly likely that messages and notifications that are a regular part of our workday will interrupt the learning of the virtual trainee.
Reading Body Language
A good trainer knows how to read the mood of their trainees. Based on body language and mannerisms, the trainer can see who is engaged and learning, who struggles to understand concepts, and who has checked out completely. But in a virtual training session, where trainees sometimes only show their faces (if that), it can be more challenging to gauge the way people are learning. Trainers must find other ways to learn about the people they are training and to ensure that no one falls behind in their learning.
Overcoming Low Learner Motivation
Unmotivated learners are not unique to virtual training. Any training session—whether onsite training or virtual training—will include at least one attendee who is not interested in attending. Sometimes, these attendees are busy or do not care about the subject being discussed. In other cases, it may be that the training style is not suited to the trainee’s way of learning. In any case, it is often easier for these unmotivated trainees to hide in a virtual training session and for virtual trainers to miss the attendees’ lack of motivation.
Meeting Different Generations’ Technology Needs
One of the most significant variables a virtual trainer can face is the range of generations participating in virtual training. For younger learners, accessing the content in a virtual setting comes as second nature. But older generations, who have spent years learning in traditional, onsite classroom models, may not be as familiar with virtual learning, technology, or how to engage in virtual training effectively. The virtual trainer needs to ensure that all learners feel comfortable and can fully navigate all aspects of the virtual learning experience.
Virtual Training Best Practices
Create User-Friendly Training Sessions
Planning is critical to making your virtual training program one that informs trainees and keeps them engaged in your content. To start, develop an outline of the key points and learning you want to achieve in your virtual training. Keep in mind that people have shorter attention spans in virtual training, so ensure your content gets right to the point and includes fun exercises or humorous side stories that keep the training engaging. In virtual training, it is helpful to prepare a collection of relevant learning materials that support your message after the training session has concluded. Industry websites, articles, and video success stories can provide real-world details once the training has ended. Finally, keep in touch with trainees by providing them with ongoing content after the training is over. Share short videos that touch on key points you covered in training and ask the trainees for feedback.
Use Technology to Ensure Engagement
Many trainers are using technology to keep attendees engaged and ensure their training is on track. For example, some trainers bring gamification into their training. Gamification leverages game mechanics like rewards, points, competition, and leaderboards to keep people engaged and improve the outcome of training. Asynchronous video is also gaining wide adoption by trainers. A trainer can share an asynchronous video of a lesson and capture the learners’ response to that lesson. This response helps gauge learning and enables the trainer to provide quick, detailed feedback to guide further education. Trainers can also use asynchronous video to foster collaboration between trainees. Smaller groups or individuals can record videos of lessons learned and share that video with a broader group for input.
Make Virtual Training Accessible
Trainees come to training from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, roles, and generations. Reaching each of these trainees during a virtual training session requires trainers to take a customized approach. Decide what parts of the virtual training can be presented live to the whole group, what parts can best be learned in an asynchronous video, and what can be accomplished in small teams. For example, the trainer could present the first part of the training live then have trainees engage in asynchronous videos independently. Trainees can record their feedback on these videos and share lessons learned. This feedback can be then viewed and discussed in small groups or one-to-one sessions with the trainer. In offering a variety of ways to access the lessons, trainers can ensure trainees of all levels and backgrounds are engaged with the content and understanding the lessons.
Provide Easy Access to Content
Without the benefit of in-person contact, content becomes an even more critical tool for creating connections and fostering understanding in a virtual training session. Be sure to include a presentation that attendees can follow during your live training. To reinforce the lessons, provide trainees with a series of bite-sized videos of best practices after the training. Trainees should also have access to one central location to access the content they need to support their learning after the virtual training has ended. Use a content management system that provides easy access to relevant content so that the trainee can apply what they have learned including up-to-date documentation, marketing materials, best practices videos, case studies, and compliance requirements.
Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Virtual Training
A virtual training program is only as good as the results it delivers. That is why it’s critical to implement processes that can analyze and report on people’s performance after they have attended a virtual training program. Start by reviewing what your goals for the training were when you started. Was your activity intended to improve skills? Or was your training designed to change behaviors? Or maybe you were introducing new processes and procedures. Whatever the goal, check in after the training to see how employees are doing in the real world. Have the trainees record a video of themselves putting their training into practice. For example, if you were teaching a salesperson about a new product or service, have them record their customer pitch and share it with the trainer and others in their training class. Trainers can ensure their message got through, and the salesperson can practice and refine their pitch before getting in front of a customer.
How To Know If Virtual Training is Right For Your Company
Virtual training provides companies with a fast, cost-effective way to train employees and keep them up to date with the knowledge they need to be top performers at their job. Advances in technology enable virtual training to go beyond the onsite training models of the past. Today, virtual training can happen in the classroom, at an employee’s desk, even from the road using a mobile device. But virtual training doesn’t just provide location flexibility; it also provides more flexible options for reaching learners in ways that connect with their learning style. Virtual training also lets companies more quickly educate their teams on changes in products, regulations, sales and marketing messages, and other critical information. Finally, by eliminating the travel costs and logistics of onsite training, virtual training expands the number of people who receive training while reducing the cost associated with training programs. In short, any company that wants to increase training effectiveness, decrease cost, and maximize the number of employees accessing their training programs should consider virtual training.
Tips To Selecting The Right Virtual Training Tool
Expand the Reach of Your Training
Effective training goes well beyond the classroom. Be sure the virtual training tools you choose can provide content to users before, during, and after their training sessions. The content should be accessible and connect with the trainees role, location, and learning styles.
Take Advantage of Asynchronous Video
Not all training needs to happen live. Using asynchronous video gives trainers a way to create customized content learners can engage with at the time and place of their choosing. Moreover, asynchronous videos can provide trainers with vital feedback that can help them better tailor content for the learner and future training sessions.
Put Content Within Reach
Good training must include content, and that content needs to be accessible. Be sure your virtual training tool can support the creation and dissemination of content when the trainee needs it. Providing this type of access facilitates learning and makes trainees more confident in applying what they learned.
Track and Report on Your Virtual Training Efforts
For an organization to justify its training budget, it needs to track and report on results. Your virtual training tool must support these reporting efforts. Look for solutions that can assess competencies and anticipate the training your employees need so you can report on and improve outcomes.
Go Beyond the Trainer
Virtual training has the benefit of expanding the idea of who can train your team. A good virtual training solution will let you tap into the knowledge and expertise that exists within your team. Find a virtual training solution that supports valuable peer-peer sharing of ideas and best practices. Be sure this type of sharing can be interactive so that the learning—and the teamwork—is ongoing.
Allego Virtual Training Features
Allego’s AI-powered microlearning and automated competency tracking streamline the learning journey. Collect data on what you’ve learned about a trainees’ knowledge and skill and use that information to inform their future training and coaching. This data gives you a more customized approach to the individual’s development, and it also helps shape future training programs.
Video can extend virtual training lessons and provide the employee with the answers they need. Allego lets you capture and disseminate bite-sized video insights, best practices, and approaches from experts and peers. The solution uses AI to deliver that content to the employee when they need it most—in the flow of work. Having the information they need precisely when they need it empowers the employee to do their best work.
Allego uses asynchronous video to allow employees to practice what they have learned. Employees can video their work in progress and share it with the trainer or coach for input or certification. The use of intelligent video ensures your training is making an impact and that your team is ready with new knowledge, information, and confidence needed to perform effectively.
Much of today’s training is intended to ensure that an organization’s employees comply with industry regulations. Allego’s virtual training solution lets you fortify compliance using certifications, completion tracking, and compliance toolkits that house documentation and guides. Together, these features provide organizations with the resources needed to ensure they are in compliance.
With features such as competency dashboards, performance predictions, and content analytics, Allego’s virtual training solution provides the data organizations need to refine their training and improve results. These detailed analytics show competency levels of individuals or teams and offer targeted recommendations on training interventions. In addition, these analytics show the likelihood that your learners possess the knowledge needed to apply the training they have received. Companies can also use these analytics to improve training content, ensuring greater engagement and effectiveness for future training sessions.
A comprehensive virtual training quick-launch kit that will help you achieve success in today's virtual world