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Stephen De Kalb, Head of Marketing

With more than 135 million how-to videos, YouTube has become planet Earth’s number one self-paced learning site for anyone wanting to know just about anything from tuning a guitar, applying make-up, tying a tie or even how to kiss.

Like any self-paced training YouTube offers several key advantages over face-to-face training. These include convenience, cost, consistency, unlimited group size, roll-out speed and geographic coverage.

And it’s certainly valuable when employees need to be reminded of what they were taught in a classroom — IF they have the time and desire to find what they need. A recent YouTube search for “Excel tutorials” returned over 103 million results to be filtered through.

And all the while with no-one to ask for help.

That’s the real drawback of YouTube and self-paced training generally. Technology cannot yet replace a warm-blooded, fast-thinking professional facilitator for experiential learning experiences that stick. On-demand training that can change tact on the fly, revising or repeating what’s being taught in response to, say, a particular learner’s body language, remains in the realm of science fiction. And that’s why, for a long time to come, having a great facilitator or coach face-to-face with learners in a classroom where they can eye-ball participants and respond spontaneously to their changing needs will always be the jewel in L&D’s crown.

Still, there’s still much to be said about the advantages of self-paced online learning so clearly there’s room for both — and that there must also be a middle ground with the best of both worlds?

Virtual training, or adding a live instructor to online training, is that third way. It combines the human adaptive, individual instruction we love in the classroom with the online learning environment’s low cost, convenience and accessibility.

Thanks to the power of technology, virtual training’s come a long way since the first interactive online training system, PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations), was developed in the 1960s at the University of Illinois. Today, learning from an instructor online can be a warm, approachable social activity that’s every bit as engaging as any real-world classroom.

The rising adoption rates of guided online training is not surprising when you remember that, soon enough, a large percentage of learners in the workplace will not have known life without YouTube. And while the virtual classroom can still be lecture-driven, just as any classroom or YouTube clip, new access and communication technologies seem to appear every day that enable more innovative, learner-centred interactions, from the initial practice sessions to application in the workplace.

We are meeting this trend head on with a virtual training approach designed to meet the needs of:

  • Learners, with short (90-minute) sessions aimed at improving a specific skill, and in an interactive atmosphere that involves peers and facilitators who serve as coaches, not simply teachers
  • L&D professionals, with consistent, cost-effective and, if necessary, customised training that meets the specific productivity goals of the organisation.

Grounded in our three decades of classroom training experience and excellence, each session is limited to 15 students and, importantly, guided by our experienced facilitators. And unlike on-demand learning, our sessions are highly interactive and require lots of input from learners. All this takes place in an inviting learning environment that makes it easy for learners to discuss, practice and ask questions without hesitation.

The last word on how today’s virtual training is delivering on its promise belongs perhaps to the learners themselves, so here are some comments received from participants in recent our virtual training sessions:

“Straight-to-the-point and easy-to-follow and understand.”

“The session length was just right … enough time to cover the topic.”

“It will save us time in our jobs.”

“Enjoyed being able to freely ask questions.”

“I had concerns about online training but this was awesome.”

“Best training I have done.”

I have one more last word...

To learn more about instructor-led online training, everything you need can be found here — including a very YouTube-like explanatory video!

 

 

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