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Is Online Training Effective?

By James Timothy White

In the 21st century, online training is becoming more and more popular because learning in person is becoming more and more difficult for companies due to training costs increasing each year and training room space a premium at most companies, training firms are working overtime trying to develop alternative training options that will be both cost-effective and efficient enough to keep their clients happy.

It is also important to note that training conducted online can reach hundreds of students simultaneously, whereas a trainer cannot lecture more than 20 – 30 students simultaneously.

Online courses can be engaging as there can be discussions forums where contributors get feedback from other members. The learners benefit greatly from getting the opinions of others on different situations that they might face during training or even while conducting day-to-day tasks at work.

This leads us directly to training virtual training.

Virtual training is a training method that takes place primarily online, and the participants and instructor are separated geographically. Virtual training can take two forms: synchronous or asynchronous.

In synchronous training, all parties are online simultaneously, while in asynchronous training, they do not have to be online simultaneously.

Asynchronous training consists of auto-lesson modules which have pre-recorded lessons with an option for automated testing after each lesson has been completed. The format of this type of training allows employees to learn on their own schedule as there is no need for them to be logged into a website at any specific time.

For virtual learning to work well, it needs a strong instructional design. This means that the training usually needs to be broken down into training modules with assessments in between each training session.

Once training has been completed, there must be built-in learning and assessment activities to ensure employees retain what they have learned and not forget important facts.

Virtual training is most effective for training on IT skills or handling day-to-day tasks like customer service: training that doesn’t require interaction with an instructor who can answer questions one-on-one. Virtual training is also beneficial because it minimizes any disruption to the daily routines of trainees by avoiding classroom training (which often involves traveling) or even working from home (which can be distracting).

Virtual training allows users to go at their own pace, meaning training can be completed quickly, and training staff doesn’t have to spend hours training one group of employees.  This often means training budgets can be better utilized because virtual training allows training providers to provide more effective training with fewer resources (i.e., money).

However, virtual training does do a few things differently from classroom training:

The number of trainees does not limit a class. This means that there can be multiple sessions going on at the same time – all over the world – using different programs, each led by an instructor who has been trained to use that training program.

The training environment can be much more diverse in virtual training environments than if training were conducted in person.  Virtual training means the trainee can see a training facility exactly as they like (or as close to it as possible).  This could include different locations, employees, and even animals!

Virtual training also provides a training program that can be much more detailed.  This is because there is no need to worry about the training facility’s capacity, scheduling issues, or even physical limitations. For example, training programs could have videos of actual events happening in a business (such as an assembly line) and allow trainees to access work instructions electronically from any computer.

It also means training providers will require online platforms which can manage hundreds or thousands of users at one time for processing virtual training needs.

The main advantage of using virtual training over other delivery methods such as classroom training, face-to-face training, or home study is the variety it offers to individuals who may not attend training in person.  The training is also much more convenient for employees because they can access training programs from any computer while still having the opportunity to receive hands-on training if needed.

The availability of training increases because training providers no longer need to worry about whether training facilities are available or even accessible in different parts of the world.  This allows businesses and individuals to be able to train anyone across the globe through e-learning technology.

As virtual training becomes more popular, it will continue to evolve with online tools and resources becoming increasingly sophisticated and more affordable thanks to investing in online learning methods.

Whether training takes place in a training facility or online, training is most effective when employees have the opportunity to apply what they have learned on the job and are supported by a knowledgeable training department that can answer their questions.

To determine whether virtual training is best for training your employees, answer these questions:

  • On average, how many training events take place with your company per year?
  • How are you currently training employees?
  • What level of training do they receive?
  • Is additional training needed to meet compliance standards (such as training on information security or ethical business practices)? If so, can you afford the time and resources required to conduct more training in person?
  • Would it be better for everyone if training were available online instead of in person?
  • Do you have an in-house or third-party learning management system that allows easy access to trainees around the world 24/7?
  • Can online training be customized based on individual needs within each department? Could this help prevent unnecessary spending on future training due to training not being relevant to each department?
  • If training is conducted online, what will training providers need to provide for training to meet your requirements?
  • Could you set up training for yourself instead of having a third party, do it?
  • What kind of technology and equipment are employees already using that could be used in virtual training environments (e. g., voice over IP [VOIP], video cameras, etc.)? This information may help determine whether training can be conducted online or if some hardware needs to be purchased first.
  • Does the training department have the training staff needed to develop training programs?  If not, would the training be outsourced to an outside training provider?
  • What are the training requirements for your business, and what type of training will be required for employees in the next year?
  • Are all individuals that need additional training from your company online at this time (e. g., sales associates, shipping and receiving personnel, etc.)?
  • Have you considered allowing access to these training courses online when training is not available in person?
  • Are future training and learning needs based on your business’s expectations or compliance standards imposed by external agencies, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), OSHA, or regulations from financial regulators?
  • Do you have a specific date that training should be completed?

This last point may be crucial to determining whether virtual training is right for your organization.  If it is important to complete training by a certain time frame due to upcoming compliance requirements, then virtual training may be what you need. The reason being that virtual training can help individuals meet training deadlines more efficiently than if they were receiving training in person.  Using technology allows users to complete training on their own time, even if training needs to be completed at a certain time.

 If training takes place online, training is available when users are ready to work, and training can be customized for each user’s individual needs. This also allows training providers to provide training content wherever needed–even if employees are located in different parts of the world, or your company has an employee remote workforce.

For example, your company may need all training completed by a specific compliance date that only allows one month for training completion, and training must take place in person due to location constraints such as being headquartered in the United States with no international offices or having employees working from home who have difficulty getting together.  This would not allow enough training time to be completed by the compliance date, or training would need to be held in the evenings after work hours when training providers and employees have left for day jobs.

In this case, virtual training may be more efficient because live training can take place over video conference online, allowing all training staff and trainees to work from home on their own schedules, which will help meet the training deadline. Virtual training may also allow relevant content that directly applies to certain users’ needs.

For example, if an employee works at a satellite office in India and has completely different responsibilities than other United States-based employees, they both could receive training customized for their specific needs while still meeting overall business requirements.  This is possible regardless of where your company headquarters is located.

If training will occur online, what training delivery method is most effective (e. g., interactive training delivered over the Internet using various media such as video and audio streaming tools, Web-based training courses, live training via video conference, etc.)?  This may allow for more training effectiveness if some employees are already familiar with training methods used by your company while also working within budget constraints.

Will training be completed on a specific device because of course design or to support technology limitations?

For example, if your business uses an intranet application that requires an applet to access content online, web-based virtual training may not work well in your organization unless it is possible to install additional applications on employees’ computers.

In this case, training would need to be completed on the company network and training material that supports your business applications may be required.

What training delivery method requires the lowest number of training hours for completion? This is important when considering training costs, or training can be a major ingredient in employee training budgets. Also, consider what training delivery method allows you to maintain training records online easily and allows compliance departments easier access to information should they require proof of training completion.

How do costs compare based on factors such as the amount of time (training hours) it takes an employee to complete their course, the cost per hour per employee or location, contracting fees/subscription costs, etc.? If your organization has a very tight budget and cannot afford training, then training delivery methods that enable training completion in the least amount of time possible while using high-quality training materials may be best.

In the end, training costs can vary based on training material providers, training delivery methods, and training company policies. So for online and virtual training to be effective, an employer needs to determine training delivery methods best suited for their employees and training costs so training can meet company needs while staying within budget constraints.

The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.

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