Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing

Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing: Still Using WebEx To Train? Here’s What You’re Missing

What about the Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing dilemma? Well, I get why you are still  using web conferencing to train workers. With WebEx, you can assemble people together, no matter where they might be, and at the very least expose them to some basic training. But that’s the problem. Your workers need more than just the basics.

Today’s organization competes in a complex knowledge economy. Competitive edge depends on information and effective application of that information. That means knowledge that is passed onto your workforce must be transferred in a way that maximizes use of that knowledge. Any disconnect that exists between the instructor and learner will work against know-how being transformed into a skill, which in turn chips away at the positive impact a training session or program is supposed to have on productivity and revenue. Any edge an organization might have in the way knowledge is transferred is an automatic leg up on the competition.

The Problem With Web Conferencing

And this is why web conferencing is probably failing you. It’s not a true learning environment. It’s a broadcast pipe that allows information to pass. PowerPoints. Maybe with some video. It’s about assembling people in a room, and exposing them to content. It’s about workers learning what they’re supposed to learn –when they’re told to learn– and all according to the way you want to teach.

The reality is, people don’t learn that way anymore. As I wrote in a recent eLearningIndustry article (Surprise! Your Workers Want To Learn), recent research from educational tech company Degreed shows while workers spend an average of 37 minutes learning through employer-sponsored training and resources every week, they spend 3.3 hours learning on their own. And they’re not just sitting in on video conferences. They’re wading through articles, blogs, videos, books, apps, networks, and online courses. And they’re not just sitting at a desk in front of a computer. They’re pulling up instructional videos on YouTube during the subway ride home. They’re catching up on their podcasts while they work out. They consume their lessons on their terms.

The Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing Dilemma

This is where virtual classrooms excel. Whereas WebEx dictates when and how, virtual classrooms are extremely flexible – they bend to the needs of learners. Sure, you can get videos on a web conference. But with a virtual classroom, you get the full experience of a media-rich session anytime you want as if the session were still being held live. This is called persistence, and it means all sharing and communication streams that contribute to a session –video, teacher-to-student and student-to-student chats, hand-outs, etc. – are accessible at any time. This not only enables mobile on-demand learning. It also supports just-in-time “micro learning”, which many workers naturally turn to when they want only the information they need to complete a certain task. (Think YouTube, where workers often go to quickly pull up relevant tutorials before skipping to the snippet they need.)

Another big advantage virtual classrooms have over web conferencing is that they’re highly customizable. Instructors completely own the look and feel of the learning interface. Instructors can launch highly personalized learning plans to individuals as well as groups through do-it-yourself workflows. And while WebEx is predominantly used to present slides, virtual classrooms can host all kinds of content, including PPTX, video, PDF, and DOCX files, and AICC, xAPI, SCORM formats. Instructors can get as creative as they want in creating deeply immersive and incentivized learning experiences through fun and rivalry enhancing gamification, leaderboards, and badges.

A great example of how one organization uses virtual classrooms for effective knowledge transfer is Kaplan Test Prep. Their virtual classroom provides both faculty and students with an incredibly human feel not normally associated with the high technology of online learning. Whereas most online courses are limited in their ability to duplicate the in-classroom experience, Kaplan was able to surpass it. Sessions are so personalized, they even allow students to customize their own tests and learning experience. Another organization, The Learning Tree, had such a great experience with virtual classrooms, they created real-world purpose-built classrooms with special podiums, desktop touchscreens, and state-of-the art lighting, video and audio just to make the overall experience even more immersive for both live and virtual attendees.

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5 More Advantages Of Virtual Classrooms 

If you’re still weighing your options, here are some other advantages that virtual classrooms have over web conferencing and that should be the answer to the Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing dilemma:

1. Virtual Classrooms Are Purpose-Built.

This yields faster results and more confidant application of knowledge, saving time and shortening ramp up.

2. Virtual Classrooms Have Enhanced Playback Repeatability.

This allows for immediate dissemination and reuse of collaborative materials. Faster dissemination of knowledge allows learning to be applied when timely and pertinent, saving both time and money.

3. Virtual Classrooms Are Fully Mobile Device Compatible.

Having the entire interactive set of engagement and learning tools available via mobile affords full anytime, anyplace functionality. This allows learning to be applied when timely and pertinent, after hours or in the field saving time and money.

4. Virtual Classrooms Are Designed For Interactive Engagement.

Tools built with collaboration and high engagement in mind allow customized learning tools specific to the material being taught, further increasing engagement, increasing knowledge retention and allowing more immediate application of learning while fostering increased peer interaction. Increased engagement is directly tied to increased performance.

5. Virtual Classrooms Offer Comprehensive Feedback Measurements.

Enter, an abundance of tools all designed to provide educators clear and immediate feedback on the levels of engagement. Closing the feedback loop allows real-time tailoring of teaching to ensure high levels of engagement, which are directly tied to performance.