This post was written in collaboration with our Head of Software Learning, Sue Caverley
Staying in touch with friends and colleagues at this time of social distancing has never felt quite so important. There’s definitely something uplifting about the idea, for example, of having a virtual drink with your friends by video call, a positive solution to the conundrum of having to spend so long indoors.
And just as the video link offers solace and comfort for many millions craving normality, it is also a useful tool to keep the commercial wheels turning.
Many organisations, for example, have put face-to-face training programmes on hold, at least for a while in these uncertain times. But really, they don’t have to because the same technology being used to keep us all in touch is also ideal to support remote learning.
I know from the conversations I have had with several of our clients that for many, simply delaying training until later this year isn’t possible or a sensible option.
If you are in the middle of rolling out a new technology system to record cases of vulnerable adults or children, you still need your people up to speed on the functionality as quickly as possible. If you are taking on temporary staff or encouraging the retired to return to work, you want them fully up to speed on your systems and processes, so they don’t present an unnecessary burden on your existing teams.
At Me Learning, we are helping several clients implement blended learning packages which don’t rely on a face-to-face element. From my experience, the majority of learning can quickly and easily be developed in digital format, which means it can also be completed anywhere, at any time, on any device. Alongside this though, there are often topics which don’t easily transfer from the classroom to a digital format because they require interaction with trainers or peers, perhaps because they are particularly complex or cover sensitive scenarios. Thanks to the technology available, we are able to adapt these for virtual learning platforms.
The good news is that there is plenty of choice when it comes to the technology available to support virtual learning; much of it the same or similar to that which we are using already to keep in touch. It is now possible for trainers to discuss topics live or use pre-recorded demonstrations, hold virtual breakout discussion and effectively combine digital and virtual learning. But inevitably there are some useful tricks to using the learning technology, things we are well practiced at. It is essential to get these right to keep learners fully engaged, as they adjust to a new experience and so they get the most out of digital and virtual sessions.
Probably the biggest challenge currently is internet bandwidth, with everybody logging into all sorts of applications to do their work, study and simply keep in touch or have fun. The last thing a learner wants is to experience garbled audio or for the course to cut out part way through. Getting the balance right between the amount of pre-recorded and live material is key if bandwidth is in short supply. By minimising the live element, say for instant discussion and feedback only, this relieves the pressure. And there are other solutions – for example, turning off cameras during sessions, and avoiding the most popular times when the internet is being extensively used can help.
The most common mistake people tend to make when they start to convert existing face-to-face training material into a format suitable for a virtual or digital learning environment is trying to squeeze too much in. It is important to only focus only on key objectives – aim to include no more than two thirds of the face-to-face content for a virtual session, otherwise learners will find the content difficult to follow.
If you are in a position where your face-to-face training is on hold, or you are thinking about putting it on hold, consider carefully whether this is the best option or whether a virtual, digital or a combination of the two could be the solution for your organisation.
Now, more than ever, when everyone seems to be on a crash-course on virtual communication, this could be a great time to keep your people engaged through learning.
To find out more about how Me Learning can help your organisation continue to meet the learning needs of your people with digital and virtual learning, contact us on 01273 091 301 or send an email to email@example.com.