Much of what is learned by someone actually takes place outside of the formal classroom. This is called informal learning. Informal learning can be on-the-job training where someone learns by doing. It can also be reading a book or asking a colleague for assistance. Most informal learning is not captured or recorded as training. It simply happens out of necessity.
Informal learning accounts for over 75 percent of the learning taking place in organisations today, according to ASTD 2010 studies. Much informal learning takes place over the web as learners visit websites and collaborate with one another.
Informal learning should be on the minds of trainers who are paying attention to trends in the workplace learning and performance industry. Informal learning significantly influences organizational knowledge and employee performance.
So, what is virtual training? Virtual Training occurs as a synchronous online event, with participants and trainer meeting together at the same time. Because a training professional facilitates the event, it is sometimes called virtual instructor-led training (vILT).
Virtual training uses a software program specifically designed for real-time collaboration on the web. This software application is called a virtual classroom. Some common virtual classroom programs are:
- Cisco WebEx Trainin Centre
- Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro
- Microsoft Office Live Meeting
- Citrix Go To Webinar
- Elluminate Live!
Virtual training can be a one-time event or part of a blended learning solution. It has learning objectives and performance driven outcomes. The participant attends to acquire new knowledge, close a performance gap, and practice new skills.
Remember, virtual training is not a meeting held via videoconference. Nor is it a webcast or self-paced web course. Virtual training is also not traditional classroom training transferred to the web. It has more nuances than a face-to-face class and different set of interaction dynamics.
Virtual training is a synchronous online event, with participants and a trainer meeting together at the same time, using a software program designed as a virtual classroom.
Moving from Traditional to Virtual Training
If you are asked to take the material from a physical classroom training course and deliver it in the online classroom, be cautious! It’s not a one-to-one translation. One minute of classroom time does not equal one minute of virtual classroom time. Some face-to-face activities simply don’t translate or even make sense online.
If you need to turn a traditional class to a virtual one, follow the three basic guidelines for success:
- Begin with the learning objectives.Go back to the training class’ original design documents and review the performance outcomes. What should learners know or do as a result of participating in the class? Establish these as the groundwork for your virtual training.
- Determine the overall format that could achieve this outcome.Consider creating a blended solution with a mixture of methods. Ask yourself: what activities could you ask the learners do on their own versus what should be done together virtually?
- Take the opportunity to re-create the training from scratch.Use activity ideas from the classroom content, and make full use of the virtual classroom software tools available to engage participants.
ASTD, 2010 State of the industry report, ASTD Press, 2010.
Beich, Elaine. Training for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005.
Cindy Huggett. Virtual Training Basics, ASTD Press, 2010