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In the employee training and leadership development industry, we are seeing more and more companies transitioning to a virtual training environment.

Virtual training is training that is completed online either in an on-demand or a instructor-led training environment.

Many companies making the switch choose virtual training (or e-learning) because it is more flexible, more affordable, and—when done properly—can be more effective than traditional classroom training.

On-Demand vs. Virtual Training Programs

When a virtual training program is on-demand it means information is available for any employee to begin any time. A live-virtual training program, however, contains instructor-led material.

There are different degrees of success in these programs. Success usually depends on the method and timing of delivery (read more about effective virtual training in this article). However, when executed successfully, there are many benefits to choosing virtual training over classroom learning:

1 – Virtual Training is Much More Flexible

While traditional classroom training consists of one or multiple days of classroom learning with group of team members, virtual training can be accessed from nearly anywhere. This means there is no need to coordinate time and travel for multiple participants at a time. Participants access their e-learning platform online and complete their lessons according to a designated timeline.

Many virtual management training courses such as Leadership Choice’s Connecting for Leaders Program are open-enrollment. This means there are typically programs on-going and a new participant can join at any time. This means participant don’t have to wait for a group of team members to be ready for training at the same time. It also means training can more easily fit into any employee’s schedule.

Many virtual training programs spread blocks of material over a longer period of time. This creates a more effective learning environment because it allows more time to digest information. Virtual training is also typically more flexible, with smaller increments of learning with some work being completed individually and collaborative meetings taking only short 1-3 hour time periods.

This means the training is typically less disruptive to the workday than a full- or half-day of classroom training. Since virtual training can be in small, often asynchronous chunks, it can more easily fit into a busy schedule. It is also less likely to take any significant chunk of time out of the workday, usually only requiring an hour or two at a time over a series of weeks.

2 – It is More Affordable

There are a few reasons why virtual training tends to be more affordable than traditional classroom training:

  • You don’t have to fly out a trainer or coach. Since virtual training can be delivered without in-person facilitator, your overall training costs won’t have to include trainer travel.
  • More participants can attend which usually means a lower price-per-person. Most training programs are charged per-participant, and more participants usually means a lower price tag. Since virtual training is more accessible and doesn’t require everyone flying out to one location, more employees are typically able to participate. This usually means a lower per-participant rate.
  • It doesn’t require travel or classroom costs. Where most traditional in-person training programs require travel costs, classroom rentals, and food costs, virtual training does not.
  • Less time away from productive work. Virtual training is usually broken up in smaller chunks delivered over 2-6 weeks. These smaller chunks are often fairly flexible, which means they can fit around an employee’s work schedule. Since they’re smaller periods of time, they’re also less likely to make a negative impact on productive work time as opposed to taking full days off for in-person classroom training.

3 – Virtual Training is More Accessible

Virtual learning works great for companies with multiple locations or who have employees who work off site.

Virtual training allows anyone with access to a laptop or computer and an internet connection to participate in training. This means more people are typically able to participate in the training.

We find this also often leads to a more diverse virtual classroom. Virtual classrooms are live discussions held in an online classroom. A conversation or training workshop is usually hosted by a live facilitator or coach. It is usually interactive, with participants collaborating and discussing ideas. Since training is more accessible and the classroom is more divers, we find the conversation is richer, more varied, and more effective than some discussions that take place between a group of people who interact with each other on a daily basis.

4 – Better On-The-Job Skill Application

Virtual training typically integrates easily into a regular workday and doesn’t require travel. This means participants can apply skills immediately in their work environment. It also means that instead of a long laundry list of new skills to remember, a  participant only has a few skills to work on at a time before moving on to the next lesson. This results in better retention and on-the-job application that traditional classroom learning.

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