Innovative new ways of training are sweeping the USA with 27% of all learning now taking place ‘live online’. In the UK that statistic, according the Institute of IT Trainers, is 10% and growing.
What advantages are there to learning live online? Primarily – no travelling to the training centre, which means reduced costs and no hassle getting there, which is particularly painful in busy cities. But even our rural county dwellers will find the savings on petrol costs to get to their training a great advantage.
Time is the other issue – if you’ve not got to move from your desk, or far from it (assuming that in some companies they will set aside a quiet conference room for online training) and it is amazingly effective to just stay where you are once your training has finished – you can put your new skills straight into action! Retention levels for skills that are practiced soon after being learnt are MUCH higher, so the new skills embed and can be remembered more easily than those crammed into a day spent in a training centre, where the delegate returns to work next day slightly dazed from all that concentrated effort of learning – willing to start putting those amazing new skills into practice yet waylaid by all the things they should have done yesterday hitting them first. Before you know it, time has passed and the skills haven’t been practiced.
Decent live online learning is very interactive and practitioners have tools at their disposal far in advance of a simple Webinar which is pretty passive, but still a great way of showing a dispersed audience how they can learn at their desk. Live Online Classroom software gives trainers the advantage of many tools, including a whiteboard where they and their delegates can write, draw and interact. They can share documents, presentations and applications, including web browsers. From within the classroom the delegates, who may be scattered across the globe, can see the trainer’s desktop and copy the trainer’s keystrokes.
The tools of the classroom should include webcams, good quality audio, a chat window and a participants panel listing who is in the class with tools to communicate non-verbally, for example to raise your hand or answer yes or no. Polls, and question and answer tools can be used to make learning fun and retain the delegate’s interest, and good trainer’s will ask delegates to repeat their keystrokes once they’ve shown you a process if you’re learning IT. Once again, retention is higher if you practice, so why not show what you’ve just learnt from your trainer by repeating their actions?
Polls give immediate feedback to trainer’s questions and carefully crafted tests check delegate’s knowledge before they move on to other subjects. Also, a good session will include practice to be completed AFTER class, adding value by reminding delegates to practice what they have learnt.
Perhaps the biggest feature of the Live Online Classroom environments is the trainer’s ability to change the course if the delegates do not appear to understand. E-Learning is static, cannot be changed and if the answer is not understood soon results in frustration for the learner, whereas Live Online Training is flexible and the learner can ask the trainer to demonstrate/explain again a different way.
I can see many advantages to learning this way now that broadband internet connections are widespread and learners will benefit from training which is shorter in duration but flexible – sessions can start and end at mutually convenient times and dates.
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