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The Case for Going Virtual

August 5, 2011

I love meeting and talking to people face to face. I’m that annoying person sitting next to you on an airplane trying to chat with you while you’re scrambling to plug in your headphones and avoiding eye contact. Despite this small setback to my social needs…I believe people will always have a need for in-person interaction, but to learn we don’t have to be seated in a traditional classroom.

We turn to our computers, tablets and smart phones for just about everything. Through wikis, blogs, tweets, social networks, chat rooms and the like, we search out and find answers to our latest dilemmas and quandaries, often connecting with people and engaging in an exchange of thoughts and ideas. In other words, learning has changed. With this change, we [the training professional] need to change also by taking our learning programs to where our users are looking for answers: the Internet.

A virtual classroom is simply a learning environment in a virtual space. Research overwhelmingly supports the move to Virtual Classroom Training (VCT):

  • Over 2 billion people have Internet access
  • Internet usage doubled from 2005-2010
  • WiFi coverage has grown over 155% since 2006
  • Corporate America saw a 14% jump (up to 59%) in virtual classroom use in 2008-2009
  • 15 million iPads are in use today, increasing the portability of the Internet

Remember a few years back the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” What happened to the mice, Hem and Haw, who refused to put on their tennis shoes and go out into the maze to find cheese? We give our learners the embrace change lecture every time we rollout new technology, but are we following our own advice and staying up on the latest training methodologies and technology? Has the delivery of training changed in your firm over the past few years? You know the saying, “The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Maybe it’s time for a change in how you’re delivering training.

There are many similarities between ILT and VCT. You still need…

  • To know who your learners are and what they need
  • To organize, plan and prep for the class
  • To have relevant exercises that will help the learner transfer the knowledge back to their jobs
  • Learners to be active participants, not silent observers
  • To have pre-learning and post-training activities to help make learning stick
  • To follow up with your users to see how they’re progressing

There are some critical differences between ILT and VCT. The types of activities you use in a live classroom don’t translate well in the virtual world, and the types of activities you use for a virtual audience don’t work in a live classroom environment.

How do you go virtual? Designing VCT is not one-size-fits-all. Each of us is at a different stage of development with varying needs and requirements that fit our budgets, resources, training styles and firm culture. Like a roadmap though, there are often multiple routes we can take to reach the same destination, but no matter what route we take there are certain laws of the road we must follow. Stay tuned for my next blog Your Virtual Classroom Roadmap.

Are you a CLASSclub client? Register to attend my virtual classroom webinar on October 20th here – http://bit.ly/raGWOq

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