COVID -19 is changing the way people learn and work across the world. With unpredictability comes trepidation. Few could have predicted the way COVID-19 would ravage the world, casting uncertainty over the future and leaving everyone’s personal and professional lives in limbo.
As the world grapples with the pandemic, the learning and development industry is making efforts to create innovative ways of learning using digital solutions. The pandemic has largely influenced the way we learn, work, and interact with people.
Companies have shifted to remote working setups in response to the pandemic. Remote working and learning have now become the new reality which puts a lot of responsibility on learning and development professionals to create innovative virtual learning solutions and for employees to embrace a continuous learning mindset.
Companies have rapidly deployed virtual learning programs and employees want to make the most of online learning to keep themselves occupied and upskill themselves to stay ahead.
Why is this important? The ways of working are being re-written. And so will the skills required to stay relevant in the future of work. If your colleagues are not engaged in learning the skills and norms of the future, the chasm between their ability and the demands of the workplace of the future will be almost impossible to bridge.
So how are organizations responding to keep up with the changing times?
Digital ready organizations have easily made a transition to virtual learning. Josh Bersin Academy reports state that there has been increased consumption of online learning in most organizations. Companies have rapidly deployed virtual learning programs and employees want to make the most of online learning to keep themselves occupied and upskill themselves to stay ahead. Little can be said about how long it is going to take for this pandemic to end but what we can conclude is the fact that the crisis has brought with it new ways of learning with virtual learning likely to shape the way we learn in the future.
Historically, organizations have shied away from embracing on-demand remote learning solutions since it strips the engagement and experience that comes with in-person training. The many reasons why companies are making this shift to virtual instructor-led sessions are as follows:
5 reasons for shifting to VILT infographic
1. Cost optimization: There are no travel and logistics costs associated with online learning and it is more cost-effective compared to classroom learning
2. Flexibility: Virtual learning gives learners the opportunity to access courses on demand and learn from anywhere at any time. It also allows them to revisit the concepts which enable greater retention of the learning
3. Shorter training time: Classroom sessions can go on for days. Virtual sessions take a much shorter time to be conducted and this means that the learner can learn the same concepts in much lesser time
4. Learner-centric: Since learning is “on-demand”, learners have more control to go through learning at their own pace and convenience. They can always refer to the training if needed.
5. Learning retention: According to a study by the Research Institute of America, the learning retention rate is in the range of 25% — 60% for eLearning, whereas it is 8% — 10% for face-to-face training
How L&D professionals make the best of the pandemic situation?
Convert Instructor-Led Training program learning retention stats to Virtual Instructor-led training programs.
Asking a facilitator to send a recording of the training to participants is definitely boring and can draw out a learner’s interest. Ensure that the facilitator is enthusiastic enough to impart knowledge virtually by using different modalities- videos, infographics, interactions, quizzes, facilitator-led group discussions, and debates.
Build new topics on skill development and emotional well-being
Offer the best of courses to your learners on their area of interest that will help them build on their existing skillsets relevant to their job roles. As we are living in challenging times, it is also important to have the know-how to manage ourselves as our personal well-being has a direct bearing on our professional development. Create new content for topics like emotional well-being and positive psychology, and get experts to deliver it.
Make micro-learning a regular feature
Create a culture of continuous learning by sending regular learning material to your learners. This could be in the form of videos, articles, or interactive quizzes. Gamify the learning experience by conducting virtual quizzes that induce a sense of competition among the learners.
Introduce more collaboration tools
Have discussion forums in place on collaborative learning platforms such as LMS, Slack, etc., Introduce new discussion topics and open comment threads. This will minimize the loss felt by learners used to in-person discussions.
Stay connected and keep your communication regular
It is natural for learners to disengage themselves in a virtual setup. A sense of complacency might set in among learners for having worked from home for very long. It is important to regularly inform your learners about the ongoings in the organization, about Learning and Development initiatives, and follow up with them on learning completion of ongoing training initiatives. Look out for avenues to regularly engage your learners.
The only way out is to embrace the new norm of virtual learning. Organizations must take definitive steps to be as innovative as possible to pique learner’s interest in learning virtually.