What is virtual training?
Classroom based training has been the default option for most businesses over the recent decades, whereby the training facilitator will have to travel to various parts of the country or even the world to deliver the training. Or the training attendees would travel to the facilitator classroom to receive the training.
Once you factor in costs for travel, accommodation and other expenses, classroom-based training is not always the most cost-effective method.
If you have a stable internet connection, microphone and a webcam, virtual training is an obvious choice to make to deliver and receive training in the 21st century.
Virtual training can be delivered to multiple attendees from their place of work or the comforts of their homes. Your virtual classroom will be brought to life by one of the many video communication softwares available on the market. With this software, you will be able to deliver your training material as you would in the classroom environment.
How is virtual training different from a webinar?
Webinars are web-based seminars and as we touched on previously, Virtual training is carried out in a virtual classroom via the internet. But what is the difference?
Number of attendees
- Webinars - You can have as many attendees as the video communication software you are using will allow. Because webinars tend to be a one-way communication from facilitator to attendees, the number of attendees will not affect the lecture.
- Virtual training – If you only have one facilitator delivering training to a virtual classroom, you want to keep the group size manageable. Anymore than 20 attendees and you will want to consider getting support from additional facilitators.
- Webinars – Because webinars do not require attendees to be engaged in conversation with the facilitator, concentration can start to dwindle from having to actively listen for too long. Therefore, the suggested time for a webinar to last is up to an hour.
- Virtual training – In the virtual classroom environment, attendees will be regularly engaged with throughout by the facilitator, to ensure that they take away a lot from the training as well as keeping their concentration levels high. The duration of the training can therefore be extended to last as long as required. Increase the amount of sessions if you have a vast amount of content to deliver.
- Webinars – The content delivered during a webinar will be about a particular subject matter, dependant on who the audience are. Businesses may use webinars to promote themselves or to sell a solution to a problem.
- Virtual training – The content being delivered during a virtual training session will be much more interactive, possibly involving activities to engage the attendee’s brains. Discussions might be encouraged to increase the effectiveness of learning; these discussions may be verbal or written in the chat function of the video communication software being used.
- Webinars – Commonly recorded to pass on information to those who were not able to attend.
- Virtual training – Without a live facilitator for the attendees to talk to, virtual training isn’t therefore always that effective. Keep these recordings short, focussing on key points for people to take away if they do have a need to watch the recording.
Preparing for a virtual training session will have obvious similarities to a normal training session in a classroom environment. For example, you need to invite your attendees, you need a place where you can deliver your training material to your attendees and you need to encourage participation.
- Video communication software – This software will be your “classroom”. A simple search on the internet will provide you with many options to choose from. You should also include this in your invite to your attendees, so they know how to sign up or what the session ID is.
- Invitations – Sending an email invitation to attendees is your next step. The email should include the time and date the session is going to take place, how long the session/s should run, the training topic, training material attachments and the link and or login details to access the virtual training session.
- Training material – In your invitation you may have included an attachment which contains training materials or activities that your attendees can read through. This could also be a pre-read to the virtual training session which gives them insight of what to expect. During the training, common ways to deliver training materials is to use presentation slides and videos.
- Environment – Ensuring that your attendees can see and hear you clearly is a must if you want your virtual training session to run smoothly. Sit in a well-lit room, natural light if possible, to avoid shadows. Make sure you’re in a noise free room by yourself so you are all that can be heard when delivering your training material.
- Support – Are you going to be delivering this training by yourself? If you feel like another facilitator or two would benefit the attendees, either due to class size or knowledge, then get them involved. This will make your training more manageable by breaking it up for certain facilitators to deliver specific parts of the training. It’s also useful for an additional facilitator to help with managing the chat feature that you should encourage your attendees to use, so they can ask questions without having to interrupt you mid-flow. Your additional facilitator can prompt for an answer or respond in chat to the questioner.
- Technical issues – Part of your preparation should involve checking on the technical side of things. Have you tested your video, sound and internet quality during a rehearsal? If one of these faulters during your virtual training, you will find out quickly. If you are not tech savvy, then get in touch with your technical support to make sure everything is running as it should be to enable a pain free virtual training session for you and your attendees! Note that having technical support on standby during your training is great for a quick fix if anything technical does go array.
Running your virtual training session
After successfully preparing, you can now begin delivering your virtual training to your attendees.
- Itinerary – In your virtual training itinerary, you will want to provide a break down of the different modules to your training, along with breaks, timings, and the goals of this training. This structure will keep you on track and will allow your attendees to understand what they are to expect to learn throughout the training.
- Are your attendees comfortable? – Not everyone attending the virtual session will be tech savvy or comfortable with receiving training virtually. Get everyone to play with the annotation tools or have them practice some of the features the software has to offer – You could get them to write something in chat for example as that may be used throughout the session. If you can tie this in with the introductions, then that’s even better!
- Introductions – After introducing yourself, get the attendees involved with an icebreaker! This helps create a basic level of attendee rapport which will support virtual training interaction and collaboration!
- Deliver your material – Start working through your training material as laid out in your itinerary. Encourage users to make use of the chat functionality the video communication software has to offer, to ask questions and to discuss with other attendees. Be patient with your attendees whilst they type their responses, they may not be able to type as fast as you! As always, the more engaged your attendees are with you, the more they are going to take away from your training. Keep the conversations and thought-provoking questions going throughout, as to make sure your attendees don’t switch off due to lack of interaction.
At the end of your virtual training session, you should make the most of the opportunity to gain feedback from those who took part, to try and make your next virtual training even better! The questionnaire would be best completed online by your attendees. Your questions could be on a scale of 0-5 so that you can gauge what did and didn’t go well.
Virtual training offers training facilitators and attendees alike an entirely different style of giving and receiving their training. This is absolutely a training method businesses should have as an option in the 21st century, with all the technology that we have available to us. This method is being more embraced as the fear of the unknown fades away, especially as businesses, small and large, are operating on a global scale and need to deliver training remotely.