Remote Learning – The New Normal

Why Remote Learning?

COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses around the world.  Organizations did not get enough time to prepare themselves to handle this situation. For the first few months, strategies were driven by panic and followed by finding quick fixes.

The training domain was no exception.  Some organizations simply started delivering classroom training programs over web meetings tools, just to realize that learner engagement has gone down, and their classroom trainers are not prepared for an online training delivery.  While others took the presumably safer route and decided to wait for things to go back to normal and then continue with their existing classroom training model.

However, today, most of us have accepted the fact that remote learning is the new normal and is here to stay even beyond COVID- 19. The sooner we adapt to it, the easier it would be for an organization to sustain in these changed market dynamics. The good thing is that this modality has been around for quite some time and hence, there are set practices and tools available to make it effective. It would also help to know that there are companies which have successfully figured out effective business models to work around it. Lamcon Finance & Management Services Pvt. Ltd, a leading provider of financial training programs, is one such success story where their core business model of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) delivery was successfully transitioned to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) model.

Tips to convert ILT to VILT

Here are a few things they kept in mind as they converted their ILT programs to VILT:

    1. Virtual learning is not classroom training delivered over a web meeting
    2. Learner engagement is the key
    3. Explore technology to deliver better learning experience

Want to know the complete story and reasons behind Lamcon’s success? Join Dr. Anil Lamba, bestselling author, international corporate trainer, and Director of Lamcon Finance & Management Services Pvt. Ltd, in an interactive webinar on July 16, 10 AM Pacific Time. Register here: https://harbingergroup.zoom.us/webinar/register/6515943631466/WN_xfWCGyW9QwGunj-aHkaSbQ.

For any queries, please reach out to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training – The New Reality of Learning

COVID- 19 has altered the learning mechanism across the globe. Right from schools and colleges to corporate organizations, the entire learning setup has moved online, in a matter of few weeks.

Transitioning to Virtual Instructor-Led Training

COVID- 19 has altered the learning mechanism across the globe. Right from schools and colleges to corporate organizations, the entire learning setup has moved online, in a matter of few weeks.

Although life has now started getting back to normal at some places and governments are encouraging people to gradually moving back to the physical world taking all due precautions, it may still take some time for classroom-based Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to restart. Some of the reasons are obvious,

  1. In view of the fear surrounding the pandemic and no vaccine availability yet, employees will prefer to work from home for some more time, at least until workplaces get ready with facilities per new norms of social distancing and hygiene protocols,
  2. Trainers, experts, and presenters, who are at varied locations, may not prefer to travel until the threat of COVID- 19 spread is minimized.

This brings us to a question, ‘Will this pause or slow down the pace of learning and training?’ Well, my answer is ‘No, perhaps never’.  In-fact, at today’s crossroads, I see a golden opportunity for L&D professionals, talent managers, trainers and subject matter experts to formulate a best understanding of “How to choose an appropriate modality of training and learning to improve performance and achieve results?’. Before this pandemic, many of us were already in the process of doing it but COVID- 19 has (thankfully) pushed us to make these decisions sooner. So, let us evaluate our options and see what works and what does not.

What Works Better – ILT or Virtual Instructor-Led Training?

Virtual instructor-led training or eLearning for all its benefits (which we all know) picked up well and many people enjoy self-paced learning very effectively. There are many ready off-the-shelf courses providers and they carry a wide variety of course titles, spanning across almost all verticals and skill sets needed in professional world.

But despite ample availability of such courses, Virtual instructor-led training could never drive out ILT completely. Some of the reasons are very genuine and real. There are some It is observed that subjects like new-hire training, leadership training, customer service or soft skill training are best suited for classroom delivery via an instructor. There are some challenges like how to make virtual instructor-led training interactive for learners? Research also shows that ILT is optimum for changing behavior and conveying values as part of training. What is common in all these is the need to observe the facial expressions and body language of  learners and that is what a classroom instructor can do well. ILT does have some limitations when it comes to ease of retention and recall of the material been taught in the class, but I will keep that discussion for some other time.

Today, when delivering ILT is almost impossible and there are restrictions on face to face meetings, what should trainers do? Well, technology shows the way. Moving to virtual classroom platforms to deliver training can resolve most of the challenges that trainers and learners are facing today. To effectively use these platforms, trainers can use a variety of modalities like integrated media, coaching, quizzes, knowledge checks, simulations, job aids, discussion boards, polls, chat tools, and facilitated micro-learning. This blended learning approach, where eLearning is coupled with ILT, can improve learning effectiveness to a large extent. And believe me, Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) will be useful even beyond COVID- 19, especially when you are looking to cut costs and overcoming some of the limitations of in-person training.

Hereafter, I would not debate on which one is better – ILT or eLearning. Choosing an appropriate blend of both, along with a virtual classroom platform, is the right way to move ahead. VILT, instead of traditional ILT, is the new reality of learning. What are your thoughts? Has your organization shifted to designing and delivering VILT? How has your experience been? Write to me at info@harbingerlearning.com to share your thoughts or to initiate a discussion.

In my next blog, I shall talk more about designing an effective VILT. Until, then stay safe. Keep learning.

7 Tips to Make your Virtual Instructor-Led Training Sessions Interactive

As organizations adapt to remote working as the new normal, Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) is on the rise. However, VILT comes with a huge challenge of learner engagement. Trainers constantly need to look out for ways to generate and retain learner attention, curiosity, and interest.

How to Make Virtual Training Interactive?

Here are 7 tips that I personally recommend to driving engagement in VILT sessions.  

  1. It always helps to generate curiosity and interest amongst learners before the actual session. So, send out a teaser or a small learning nugget to learners ahead of time. A short video that talks about the content or an infographic about ‘what is in it for me’ will kindle interest in the learners and will make them want to know more. Remember that binge-watching after seeing a promotional snippet?  
  2. In times of increasingly short attention spans, visual engagement becomes extremely important to convey meaning and intent. Work on the visual appeal of the slide deck – use tools like Prezi to present neat and aesthetic visual material.   
  3. It could happen that there is not much that can be done with the session content and monotony becomes a threat. Introduce some interactive and lighter fillers to address this challenge. Play a video or present a set of images and follow it up with questions. It may deviate from the content slightly, but you have grabbed the attention you needed.  
  4. Include logical breaks in the session. Use inbuilt polls to take a pause and gather insights. Share the responses right away with the group. They would know what the group is thinking, and the collaborative learning environment will come alive.  
  5. Reflection and collaboration are often the most effective ways to involve learners in the content. Use your online meeting tool’s breakout rooms feature to create small groups and enable learners to collaborate. The timed discussion could focus on a quick problem to be solved or a scenario to be analyzed. Once the groups are back from breakout rooms, you can ask the group leaders to present their findings and conclusions.  
  6. Avoid performance grading during VILT sessions. In my experience, this inhibits participation. This is one thing which should be avoided at any cost to encourage maximum participation.  
  7. Do you think the training is over once the VILT session is over? Well, no. Remember the good old forgetting curve? It is applicable for VILT too. Create micro learning nuggets and push them for learning reinforcement periodically, after the session is over.  

In order to make virtual training interactive, when arranging for VILT, learners should be the center of all your planning and activities. You are sure to accomplish the learning objectives when you understand what the learners need to keep them engaged and committed to the learning experience.  

What are some things that you have you been doing to make your virtual training sessions interactive? Please comment below.

Are Universities and Higher Education Institutions Ready to Go Online Amidst the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic?

With the ever-increasing penetration of the novel coronavirus across the globe, social distancing has now become a norm and the only way to curb the widespread of this pandemic. In this scenario, many universities and post-secondary institutions around the world have been forced to shut down all in-person classes and might continue running that way for quite some time to come. Student enrollments have gone down and learner drop-outs have increased.  Institutions with no clear continuity plan to go online are the ones facing the toughest challenge. As some of these institutions face an unpredictable future, the society now demands a more flexible, rapid, yet effective way to take the in-person classes online. But, are these institutions ready yet?

With abundance of experience in the educational technology space, learning solutions and technology providers believe they are well poised with creating a complete online learning infrastructure; as well as making the existing classroom content highly engaging and effective for online delivery.

At first, there are educators who believe that certain subjects can never be taught online. They also have their doubts regarding the impact of online medium of teaching and aren’t confident about online learning meeting the end objectives lessons. That is where learning consultants put on their thinking caps and recommend appropriate solutions to meet the required learning objectives.

On the other hand, there are educators who think that going online is just so simple. Subscribe to an online conferencing tool such as Zoom or WebEx, ask your students to join the online session; and begin presenting your screen by using the same presentation deck which was earlier used for in-person classes. If you are an educator and are thinking of taking the same approach, unfortunately, I have some unpleasant news for you. This may be a good makeshift arrangement; but will get you nowhere with your end learning objectives. You would soon realize that these sessions are not effective.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) or even for that matter, self-paced eLearning modules were never meant to be delivered to your learners with them sitting in front of a machine for several hours. Apart from that, being able to grab Gen Z’s attention to your lesson is a challenge in itself, with so many distractors around them. Delivering classes online involves much more than what you actually thought.

Following are a few ways in which you can make sure to deliver online classes in the most efficient and effective way.

  1. Train the Trainer – Make sure to train your teachers/trainers on the tools that would be used for delivering virtual classes. Familiarize them with the tool’s features and interface. To make it more effective, share job aids of best practices in online delivery.
  2. Transform Instructor Led Training (ILT) Presentation Decks – This is one of the most crucial parts to ensure that students who are attending classes remotely are hooked on and engaged to the topic being taught. You can start by making your existing ILT deck visually attractive by adding infographics, short animated videos, create subtle engagement points during delivery, and use interactions to present case studies and scenarios.
  3. Add interactions appropriately – Use break-out rooms for group exercises, add knowledge checks using game-based quizzes for a healthy competition at key points, have a break by cracking a joke or sharing some interesting facts with the learners, use whiteboards, and more. These activities need to be planned well to ensure you have continued learner attention and participation.
  4. Creating Supplementary Training Material – You can create enthusiasm amongst the students by creating pre class materials. For post class reinforcement, you can share materials in the form of interactive eBooks, short nudges, short video summarizing the key points of the day’s class or even a simple AI-driven chatbot which could act as a virtual assistant to answer most common questions the students might have on a particular topic or subject
  5. Learner Support – Get your students ready for the online classroom by familiarizing them to the tools and technology which you plan to leverage. Provide a support desk to answer all their technical questions. Share best practices for online participation and at appropriate times, also ensure to celebrate good participation.

These are just few ways in which you can ensure you are all set for a long-term online delivery plan rather than a stop gap arrangement.

In this increasingly unstable world, we are witnessing abundance of natural and man-made calamities. They have and will continue to affect individuals and the way we deal with our daily routine. Having said that, continuous education is a must for every individual in the society to leap on to the next big thing. Adjusting the way we deliver online sessions, should be of utmost priority with no compromise on the quality and effectiveness.

How are you planning to go online? Your thoughts or suggestions are welcome through comments below.

Coronavirus Pandemic: What Does it mean for Life Sciences Training?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, all industries are grappling with an unprecedented crisis. Life sciences is no different. Trainers in this industry are facing challenges fundamentally different from what they have ever experienced. This pandemic has forced new boundaries and expectations on them, making them re-think and re-conceptualize training, from a digital lens, this time around.

Life Sciences Training Companies Moving to Virtual Training

With every passing day, a large number of life sciences companies are moving to virtual training. They are embracing emerging technologies like AI-powered chatbots, nudge-learning, pharmacy apps, and fitness wearables to disseminate real-time data.

Nurse educators are quickly adapting themselves to modalities like telehealth and telelearning to supplement the shortage of healthcare providers and to ensure that nurses can deliver services in virtual health environment.

Pharmaceutical companies are looking at mobile apps, webinars, digital platforms, and virtual training conferences, especially for sales representatives to connect with clinicians. There’s also an increased focus on converting product, sales, and compliance training from Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) to cater to remote workforce’s learning needs.

Medical devices companies, which are grappling with challenges like shortage of respirators, testing kits, and masks, are looking at digital training solutions to improve contract manufacturing productivity and ensure supply chain consistency especially when API manufacturing countries have imposed lockdowns.

Hospitals have started leveraging apps and bots to differentiate between those who might really be sick with COVID- 19 and those who are probably suffering from less threatening ailments. Hospitals and clinical labs are also offering digital training to their Healthcare Personnel (HCP) to perform hand hygiene and on effectively handling Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to avoid self-contamination.

During these testing times, life sciences’ training function has experienced tremendous innovation and digital transformation. This pandemic has certainly highlighted that traditional training modalities may just not be enough. Once COVID- 19 settles, it is expected that life sciences companies will invest in innovative training solutions as part of their business continuity strategy.

Are you a part of the life sciences training workforce? What changes have you experienced? How is your organization coping up with this crisis? Comment below.