Corporate training took on a radically different form in 2020 due to the pandemic. While online and virtual training programs have been in place for decades, many classroom-based programs and training events were forced to move online in a hurry. As a result, employees are clamoring for programs that offer more than just talking heads on a screen and shared PowerPoint presentations.
With much of the world shifting to new business models that will continue to be relevant even when COVID-19 is over, employees need to learn new skills to help them navigate the future of work. This means that training managers and facilitators need to come up with training methods that engage their employees and help them learn the skills they need to thrive.
Video streaming is booming (just look at the rise of companies like Netflix!). You can also utilize the power of video in your virtual training, as it is generally far more engaging than using lots of text and PDFs.
There is more to building a virtual corporate training center than just implementing a learning platform. It involves finding out your employees’ knowledge level, learning needs, and the training mediums and solutions they are most comfortable with. These solutions include video conferencing and webinar solutions such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, file-sharing and collaboration platforms such as SharePoint and Google Workspace, and quiz and learning assessment software. Your virtual training center should also include a space where you can promote new courses, create custom learning paths for specific roles, and issue certificates to employees who have successfully completed their training and passed their online assessments.
Here are some other virtual training strategies that will help prevent webinar fatigue and promote a culture of continuous professional development across your organization.
Create online forums for discussions and brainstorming
A lot of learning and knowledge transfer happens after your virtual meetings end. A well designed corporate virtual training program encourages discussions between employees and their trainers and provides venues where they can brainstorm, share insights learned during the training, and the ways they’ve applied those insights to their jobs.
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a fortune on forum software to encourage open and continuous discussion. If your organization already uses collaboration tools such as Slack, you can create new channels for each virtual class.
Aside from providing a venue for discussion, these tools complement the virtual training center by allowing the trainer to upload new training materials. Virtual learning events are a great team-building activity for remote employees, who often deal with loneliness and feel isolated. Keeping the conversation going after the main event helps build on that.
Offer more microlearning options
As learners cope with balancing work and personal time, they are starting to demand training content delivered in bite-sized chunks. Microlearning is the practice of dividing topics into smaller pieces of content that employees can dip in and out of as time allows. Training material of this nature can take the form of video content, tests and quizzes, games, audio, and more.
Shorter training content means your employees do not have to block off large portions of their day for required learning. The modular nature of microlearning courses lets you replace or update content to respond to changes in the business landscape or the needs of the organization. While some topics don’t lend themselves well to microlearning, this approach is applicable to many training needs.
Use podcasts as a learning format
Podcasts have come into their own as a medium for both entertainment and learning. Aside from being portable (a user can download an episode in iTunes, Spotify or Google Play music), they work well for people who have difficulty with learning through reading.
Another advantage of podcasts is that a learner can listen to them any time they wish – while driving, doing housework, or before bed. A user may also choose to listen to content on repeat as many times as they need to fully understand the topic being discussed.
For trainers, podcasts offer multiple content options. They can use them to deliver the main content or as an add-on. Podcasting is also an ideal medium for guest interviews from industry experts. This strategy keeps your trainees engaged by offering fresh perspectives from people outside the organization.
All you need to start a podcast is a good microphone, a podcast hosting solution, and an editing tool.
Utilize gamification to motivate learners
The usefulness of games in learning isn’t just for children! Gamification, or the usage of game elements such as scoring, rewards, and leaderboards, has been in use in online learning applications for some time. It improves information perception by around 9% and helps create a more motivating learning experience.
For example, many companies award badges to employees who successfully complete training programs. Employees may share badges to their social profiles or add them to their email signatures. Some organizations even offer special incentives, such as prizes or exclusive merchandise, to individuals who complete the most training hours in a calendar year.
You could also offer different rewards as they progress along a training path, similar to how martial arts students earn colored belts. Lean Six Sigma is a learning methodology where students enter the program with white belts, then progress to yellow, green, and black belts as they learn and apply their knowledge to their organizations. These “belts” are highly valued by employers, increasing an employee’s market value.
Corporate virtual training is not a passing fad, nor will it stop being relevant once it’s safe to hold physical classroom training again. Trainers and trainees worldwide are convinced about online learning’s effectiveness in imparting much-needed workplace skills. While some individuals are apprehensive about what they perceive as online learning’s lack of engagement, instructors and companies can use various strategies to keep employees involved and engaged as they learn online.
These strategies include building a centralized corporate virtual training center that serves as a repository for training materials, creating online forums where course participants can actively engage in discussions with their peers, offering more microlearning options to improve learning retention, using podcasts to complement online training, and utilizing gamification to reward learners.
So the sooner your organization adopts these strategies, the more effective your employee training programs will become.
Author bio: Eduard Klein is an International Digital Growth Specialist, Blogger, and Entrepreneur