Virtual Classrooms And The Bottom Line: 3 Tips For Your Team Development
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How Virtual Classrooms Benefit Your Organization's Team Development

Is your organisation using live online learning and, more importantly, delivering a great service to your staff or customers as well as the bottom line?

Virtual Classroom Use Is High In Organisations

A recent report found that 86% of organisations surveyed are using live online learning [1]. This is fantastic news for geographically dispersed employees, whether that’s in one county/state or across the globe. It’s also great news from a time and travel perspective, cutting down commuting time and costs as well as the positive environmental impact.

Do L&D Teams Have The Right Digital Skills?

Using virtual classrooms and webinars for these reasons are good. Using them for changing behaviour and helping people with their learning and performance is the gold standard. However, in the same report, they found that it was only “23% of L&D leaders think their L&D teams have the right skills to exploit technology for business advantage” [1]. If teams are not equipped for different ways of supporting a learning culture, the whole L&D team won’t perform as the people and organisation needs it to.

Virtual Classrooms For Flexible Learning

There’s a disparity then between the high use of the technology and the skills to do it. There is the need and desire though across different industries. It has been reported that “71% of students believe that virtual learning provides increased flexibility to take classes” and that “72% of university IT staff believe that virtual learning is essential to a 21st-century classroom” [2].

Having the agility within your organisation to develop the learning intervention when it’s needed, for the needs of a specific set of attendees, means that teams can respond to business demands so much quicker.

Focusing On Team Skills

Many organisations and leaders are realising that with new technology comes new approaches and methodologies. A report on the transformation curve highlighted how high-performing organisations are “prioritising the skills they need internally to support sharing… They recognise their weakness in facilitating collaboration, the difference is that 44% of the Top Deck (high performers) have set this as a priority area for skills development now, with fewer than 6% putting these skills off until later” [3].

This is the difference between implementing a technology poorly and well, as it’s not simply about the platform. Donald H Taylor, in his book Learning Technologies in the Workplace states: “The technical implementation must follow the right process to go smoothly. However, any implementation also involves people who may derail it at any point.” Applying this to using webinars and virtual classrooms, when people are trained and supported in developing their current skill set to apply to a different way of interacting with people and using technology to get their learning points and activities across in ways that they aren’t used to, then success is much more likely.

The Business Effectiveness Of Live Online Learning

Another report on virtual classrooms asked about how the use of virtual classrooms are effective for employee learning [4]. “Very highly effective” was selected just 8% of the time, with “highly effective” having 23% of the responses. In one way this could be seen as discouraging. I feel it shows that there’s a lot of value still to be added when designing and delivering with this modality in a way that is right for the organisation.

It's encouraging that there were only 2% of participants that said the virtual classroom was “not at all” effective. The report added: “When the use of virtual classrooms increased within companies’ overall learning programs, strong correlations to market performance and learning effectiveness emerged.” This is great news as a business imperative for utilising this method within the learning culture.

The report continues: “The same relationships applied whether virtual classrooms were used exclusively or were included in blended learning. Those correlations to performance suggest that talent development leaders who plan to expand their organizations’ use of virtual classrooms are on the right track to positively affect both learning and business results.” It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and in fact, it shouldn’t be all virtual classrooms. Any appropriate use of live online learning, when done really well, will help your organisation.

3 Tips For Developing Your Staff’s Virtual Classroom Skills

  1. Attitude 
    Trainers that don’t think live online learning can work won’t engage in whatever you give them or ask them to do. Get them to attend webinars and virtual classroom sessions that you know to model the interactive and engaging approaches that help keep attendees involved in their learning, or get an expert to deliver that internally for you.
  2. Basic Skills
    Once people understand and believe that live online sessions can work, they need to focus on getting the basic skills of how to “see” audience that is geographically remote, and how to use the technology platform.
  3. Engagement
    Then, it’s all about making a live online session a great one. It’s understanding traditional training skills and how that translates into the digital body language of an online attendee. Helping trainers, either with training, feedback or continuous development, will make their sessions packed with appropriate activities to help staff back on the job.

References

[1] In-Focus: Preparing for the Future of Learning (2016)

[2] 50 Striking Statistics About Distance Learning in Higher Education

[3] The Transformation Curve – 2018 Benchmark Research

[4] Virtual Classrooms Now: Using Technology to Reach Today's Workforces

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