2 Essential Tips For Creating Effective Virtual Training Content
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The Importance Of (Really) Good Virtual Training Content

Your team can purchase the snazziest Learning Management System (LMS) out there, or build an entirely custom one from the ground up, but without good virtual training content you won’t meet your desired outcomes—no matter how impressive or easy-to-use your platform is. Here are 2 essential tips that will help your learners embrace your virtual training program.

5 Things You Should Do Before Developing A Virtual Training Program
Prepare for a smooth implementation of your new virtual training program by pinpointing skill gaps, identifying your audience, setting goals, determining content delivery methods, and evaluating current content.

1. Compile And Evaluate Current Training Content

Though often overlooked until after the LMS has been deployed, identifying and evaluating current training content upfront will help you determine whether or not you will need to build or buy additional virtual training content.

4 Things You Should Ask When Evaluating Your Current Training Content

  1. Is the content SCORM-compliant?
    If not, you will have to convert it using a course development tool before you will be able to successfully upload it to the LMS.
  2. How old is the content?
    If you use outdated content you run the risk of delivering irrelevant information to your audience. Even if some of the old content is still relevant, it may need a refresh on how it is being presented so that it remains meaningful to your audience.
  3. Is the content consistent with the training outcomes you identified?
    It is important to consider how your existing content will meet your goals for the new training program. If the content doesn’t address how to develop the desired skills you want your audience to have, or clearly explain how to perform a process in a way your audience can apply while on-the-job, it may have to go.
  4. Are there ways of assessing whether or not the audience met the objectives of the course or lesson?
    Do you already have quizzes or tests at the end of each training session or exercise? If so, you can leverage these to build knowledge checks for your courses that are deployed virtually. If you don’t, you may have to create them to make sure that you have a way to measure individual success.

It’s important to have good content on your Learning Management System (LMS) before you launch it if you want your audience to embrace the virtual training concept. If there isn’t any content, or if the content isn’t relevant, you’ll likely see low user adoption rates.

Choosing a content solution is important when it comes to launching and maintaining an effective virtual training program. If you have the bandwidth to build your own courses, leveraging a course authoring tool might be a good option. If you don’t have the time or resources to build your own courses, you can opt to purchase pre-made courses from a course library, or enlist the help of an Instructional Designer for custom course development.

2. Determine The Best Way To Deploy Training Content

How you deliver your training counts.

Effective training delivery is contingent on identifying gaps between existing and desired individual performance, accurately evaluating the training needs of your audience, clearly establishing desired outcomes for the training program, and on having impactful and relevant training content prepared to plug into your training program design. The method(s) of delivery that you choose should align with the goals you decide upon so that your desired learning outcomes can best be realized, as each training method described below will have a different impact on your audience.

7 Popular Training Methods

Instructor-led

Advantages: Instructor-led training provides an opportunity for the audience to receive what can be for many valuable face-to-face instruction where they can ask questions, share ideas and experiences, and interact with peers who may be experiencing the same roadblocks.

Disadvantages: Coordinating an adequate space to give the training, arranging travel accommodations for audience members who are not close by and ensuring that the participating instructor has the proper skill set to correctly teach the desired skills or behaviors can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, this method of training often provides a large volume of information to an audience in one setting that can be challenging for them to digest and retain.

Great for: Developing psychomotor skills where demonstration of complex processes or procedures is required, or delivering training where personal interaction is key to learning.

eLearning

Advantages: Online training allows you to deliver a high volume of content to a large audience that is geographically dispersed, that has limited mobility, or that has difficulty attending conventional classroom training sessions. Due to the virtual nature of eLearning, delivery costs for online training are much lower than the costs of instructor-led training since they do not require significant, ongoing resource coordination.

This training method allows you to maintain a consistent quality standard across all of your course content, since variable inputs, such as a live trainer, do not change what content is delivered and how it is delivered. Also, eLearning allows you to collect, track, and measure the usage of your online training program—helping you improve it, offer more personalized learning paths and determine ROI for the training investment.

Disadvantages: Sometimes there is no replacement for live instruction, especially when an individual must develop skills that rely on interpersonal communication or that require an individual to physically imitate complex procedures or processes. eLearning is not always a great fit for every individual, especially for those who are kinetic learners, those who are not comfortable with technological communication, those who are disabled, or those who learn best in groups.

Great for: Cognitive skill development where individuals apply learned methods in practice to solve problems, or for improving individual comprehension of important subjects.

Self-study

Advantages: Self-study allows your audience to move at their own pace and discover their own skills or subject matter proficiencies around important topics—giving them more ownership over their learning path.

Disadvantages: Without a guided or structured pathway to learning, some individuals may lose motivation to complete their training materials, get distracted by more pressing demands and put their training on the back burner, or complete training at a much slower rate than desired or expected from management.

Great for: Delivery of supplementary materials that are not essential to meeting the objectives of the training, but that provide valuable context or support for key training courses.

Microlearning

Advantages: Microlearning jumps directly to the hands-on, action-oriented phase of learning where the individual is prompted to mimic the activity shown or to absorb information targeted toward achieving a specific outcome. This type of learning is typically deployed in brief video segments that give the learner a quick refresh on how to perform a function.

Disadvantages: Due to the brief nature of this learning method, it is not an optimal delivery mode for audience members to absorb in-depth concepts or skill enhancement.

Great for: Providing just-in-time performance support, on-the-go learning, and training refreshers.

Gamification

Advantages: Reality-based learning that is specific to on-the-job scenarios that your audience is regularly presented with will have strong resonance with your audience. Games can be interactive and meaningful, translating into a more engaged and focused audience.

Disadvantages: Strategic game design is important if you want your games to meet the training goals you designed them to meet. Failure to make a connection between the activity and the desired outcomes can result in a detached and confused audience, making this a trickier training initiative to successfully deploy than others.

Great for: Improving knowledge retention, developing skills, and driving audience excitement and participation in your training program.

Mentoring

Advantages: One-on-one instruction is a very valuable training mechanism, as it gives the mentee a reliable source he or she can repetitively seek out to find solutions to more complicated problems. Additionally, the close-knit involvement between mentor and mentee can act as a motivational force for improved performance, as the mentee seeks affirmation of a job well done by his or her mentor.

Disadvantages: This method of training typically requires a significant time investment from a mentor, who is likely swamped with his or her daily workload. It is also a limited way of training, as it can be challenging for one mentor to train multiple mentees. This training method also has a relational aspect that could potentially work at a disadvantage if it is a forced mentorship, where the mentor is not motivated to provide quality training, or where the mentor and the mentee are not a good fit.

Great for: Building long-term relationships where employees “pass the torch” to each other through a knowledge exchange, or ensuring a standard of craftsmanship or excellence is realized by each employee in his or her work that accurately reflects the integrity of the brand.

Webinars

Advantages: Webinars allow for a subject matter expert to share knowledge with a large, geographically-dispersed audience without the location constraints of instructor-led training. These sessions can also be recorded for review at a later time, or for participants who are unavailable in real time.

Disadvantages: There is little room for the audience to interact with each other or with the instructor—making it hard for participants to share ideas and ask questions. Additionally, because the session is virtual participant concentration cannot be controlled, as audience members have the freedom to multitask—making it harder for participants to retain information.

Great for: Providing training on important conceptual topics to a large, remote audience by leveraging the expertise of a subject matter expert.

Final Word

A blended learning approach that combines different training methods is often the most effective approach to take when designing a training strategy. Although some of these methods of training delivery can be successfully deployed independent of each other, oftentimes there is no stand-alone training solution that will be successful in reaching all of your audience.

A training strategy that incorporates multiple delivery methods that align best with the pre-established desired outcomes for your virtual training program will give you the best result.

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