Virtual Training Labs: Connecting Learning To Real Life

Virtual Training Labs: Connecting Learning To Real Life
Summary: Virtual training labs are cloud-based training environments that help organizations—particularly their millennial employees—get hands-on learning experiences.

Connecting Learning To Real Life: How Virtual Training Labs Provide Millennials With Hands-On Knowledge

In the next 10 years, Millennials will not only dominate the future labor force, but this generation will make up a majority of the U.S. workforce. According to the Hartford Financial Services Group, by the year 2020, nearly half (46%) of the entire U.S. workforce will be Millennials, and 75% by 2025.

And because this generation—born between the years 1982 and 2000, according to the Census Bureau's definition—is an extremely diverse population, traditional approaches to education do not address the specific needs of millennial learners.

According to recent research, Millennials have a strong desire to enhance their skills and further their careers. In fact, opportunities to learn and grow is one of the top three factors in retaining Millennials--and the only piece of the retention puzzle that separates the needs of Millennials from those of non-Millennials. And Millennials expect these learning experiences to be extremely valuable and well worth their time.

Research also shows that this unique group of workers expects to be engaged in their learning, and they want to learn something new. Simply put, passive teaching experiences do not appeal to Millennials. Instead, immersive, interactive, and entertaining tactics will work best.

Millennials want a stimulating, hands-on learning environment. Moreover, millennial students are more likely to perform better when instructors connect the training content to real life.

As a result, training organizations must adopt different approaches to learning. Because Millennials consider results and actions to be more important than the accumulation of facts, training departments need to develop methods that capture the importance of doing—rather than knowing.

How can organizations make teaching relevant and offer Millennials real-life applications? By using virtual training labs.

What Are Virtual Training Labs?

Virtual training labs are cloud-based, virtual training environments that help organizations deliver hands-on training. A virtual training lab is essentially a copy of a training computer that’s available over the cloud so anyone with an internet connection can access it. Virtual training labs are commonly used if the training involves teaching students how to use a software or SaaS application, where hands-on experience is essential.

With virtual training labs, training organizations can reach more students because it’s available over the internet. It also gives instructors virtual training tools that enable them to create similar, if not better, learning experiences compared to in-person training.

With more than two-thirds (68%) of Millennials considering interactive, hands-on educational elements to be appealing, virtual training labs make sense.

Virtual training labs allow students to have hands-on practice in a real-life environment, while also engaging with the instructor. These virtual training labs are vital in creating realistic, hands-on exercises that give students the training they need to be comfortable in a real-world setting.

Improving Performance And Knowledge Retention

Not only do Millennials prefer learning by doing, but this method has been proven to be critical in knowledge retention. Virtual training labs help students attain performance fluency in several ways:

  • Learning by doing has been proven to create a much higher knowledge retention than just listening and watching. As a result, it is very important for students to experience practical hands-on exercises to prepare them for real-life scenarios they will face when they’re back at work. That’s where virtual training labs come in. These labs replicate realistic situations and provide specific practice that can help students get the real-life skills they need to succeed in their jobs.
  • Virtual training labs are often combined with virtual classroom features, such as whiteboards and breakout groups. These features help instructors create an interactive and relevant learning experience for students.
  • In addition, instructors can share their desktop with students and demo how to use software, as well as give students the opportunity to practice using virtual training labs. This hands-on practice can go a long way in terms of helping students feel comfortable using new software.
  • Lab overview allows instructors to virtually walk through the classroom. They can watch what students are doing in their labs and take control when a student is in need of individual assistance. This feature gives instructors the ability to virtually walk around the room, see which students are struggling and then step in to help.

Training without a hands-on component creates an extremely passive learning experience for students. By adding virtual training labs to a training environment, instructors can help students become high performers, and Millennials are able to learn the way they prefer—which is by doing. And with Millennials on course to dominate the future labor force, making this change is critical to the success of organizations.