Although many professionals, managers and training managers know of virtual delivery there is still some confusion as to what it is and how it works. Here are some common questions we get asked when supporting our clients in integrating virtual training into their learning strategies. For more information on this topic, see also 5 questions you definitely need to ask when you are setting up a virtual training program.
What do we mean when we talk about virtual training or virtual delivery?
Virtual training (also known as virtual delivery or remote delivery) is training where one or more of the participants is not in the same room as the trainer. Training is delivered using one of the many “unified communication platforms”. This term includes web conferencing tools such as WebEx Training Center, Adobe Connect, Go Meeting or Skype for Business and video conferencing services such as BlueJeans or Polycom.
People often think of virtual training as an international solution. For example, we’ve delivered a virtual session with the trainer based in Frankfurt, Germany and having participants in Hawaii, Boston, Luxembourg and Singapore. However, if you have a trainer in one location on a site and you have participants on the same site/same country but in different rooms – that’s virtual training too.
How does virtual delivery differ from e-learning or webinars?
These terms are often defined by a training supplier’s marketing department, but typically most L&D professionals will agree that:
- E-learning is led by the learner and there is no live trainer. The learning is self-paced through interacting with a computer-aided learning program. A simple example is Duolingo as an app for language learning. SkillSoft is an examples of e-learning aimed at developing your soft skills.
- A webinar is speaker-led and has probably about 50 people maximum – although some webinars have hundreds in the audience. The webinar is delivered through video or a video conferencing platform online and the presenter is talking most of the time. At the end he or she has the ability to take questions and if they are using a producer they can engineer interactive moments e.g. asking for input via a poll during the webinar.
- Virtual training is a trainer plus participants. Ideally the training is interactive, engaging and adaptive the needs of the participants.
What does virtual training give you that a webinar doesn’t?
Put simply, virtual training is about learning through interaction, engagement and personalization – it is active learning. This includes learning from the trainer, learning from personal experiences and from each other via e.g. discussions and experience sharing. Webinars are comparable with lectures or online presentations – learning is passive and based solely around the speaker and the content they are sharing.
How many participants can you train virtually at the same time?
Surprisingly, many people assume that virtual means more participants. This is often based around experiences in webinars with 50 people plus. In a face-to-face training seminar, we would never try and deliver training to 50 participants in the same room. Typically, we suggest 8-12 participants with 14 being a maximum. Years of experience have shown us that an ideal number for highly-interactive virtual training is about 6-8 people. With a small group like this you can make sure that people have a chance to interact with each other in a more intimate way, using options like breakout rooms found in the more functional platforms such as WebEx Training Center or Adobe Connect. These breakout rooms offer the same benefits as integrating small group activities in a training room. This interaction is really important because a lot of the value of training, whether it’s virtual or face-to-face, is the interaction that the participants have with each other. They don’t just learn from the trainer but through each other too!
What is a producer and why do we need one?
A producer ensures that the virtual training runs smoothly and supports the virtual trainer in delivering an interactive, personalized and above all smooth training experience. This allows the trainer to manage up to 50% larger training groups too e.g. 8-12 participants. Their role includes:
- providing technical support to participants before, during and after the training
- setting up break out rooms, polls etc
- monitoring engagement and contributions in chats and break out rooms
- modelling activities
- time checks with the trainer and participants
For more information
At Target Training we offer all of our solutions in a virtual format too. This includes in-house Business English with our Virtual InCorporate Trainer , Presenting in a virtual environment and Working in and Leading virtual teams. If you would like to know more about our virtual solutions, save time and money and extend your training reach then please contact us. Finally, see here to read more about delivering training virtually.