Virtual Learning Programs That Survive and Thrive

September 26, 2017 13:33 by Dana Peters
Adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to the long-term survival of the virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs you design, develop, and deploy. Continuous change is the environment most organizations are operating in, which means we need to move with change as Learning and Development professionals. And certainly we want to do more than just “weather the storm”. We want to thrive as we forge ahead to meet the business needs of the ever changing organizations we serve.Are you prepared to respond quickly when: Leadership changes are made? A merger or acquisition is announced? The vision, mission, and/or goals of the company shift? A swing in your market place occurs, positive or negative? You, your colleagues, and your vILT programs must be nimble and flexible enough to adapt to these changes. But how? We suggest a proactive approach that includes the following five actions. Develop Rough Action Plans. Take time to think about realistic scenarios that you could face in the near future. Develop a rough action plan to give you a leg up if the scenario were to actually occur. Invest Time in Continuous Improvement Processes. Once you’ve designed and implemented your vILT programs, it’s important to maintain lines of communication to make sure your programs continue to align with the company mission and leadership’s goals. Reviewing your vILT courses on a regular basis allows you to refresh portions of the content as changes and updates are needed. Without a continuous review, your course can quickly become obsolete, and without the occasional minor update, you may experience the need for a complete overhaul of your course design. Or it may be seen as bringing no value and be eliminated altogether. Ask for Feedback From Your Learners. In line with continuously reviewing your vILT programs, it’s important to gather feedback from your learners on a regular basis. The collection of learners’ needs over time helps you to understand how job functions are changing and what skill development opportunities would bring the most value to the business. This intel should help you bring the right learning opportunities, to the right people, at the right time. Educate and Inform Leadership. As Learning and Development professionals you probably know your programs inside and out. Your leadership team may not. In order to showcase the value of your programs it’s important to involve leadership in the process. Make sure they are aware of how the vILT programs are performing. Specifically, how they are meeting the needs of the business. For more information on how best to track the value of your vILT program, check out our post: Designing Virtual Learning That Pays Off: Measuring Success Back on the Job. Communicate Value and Results. Along the lines of educating your leadership team, vILT programs should be championed at all levels of the company. If the value of your programs have been communicated effectively; when changes occur, you’ll have the advantage of advocates on many fronts. If updates to your programs do need to be made, multiple perspectives can diversify the conversation on how best to do that. These proactive efforts will help to secure your vILT programs long-term success, and the consistent, high quality learning opportunities your learning population needs to be successful on the job. What other actions have you taken to be sure your virtual learning programs can survive and thrive through the changes that may lie ahead?

vILT Platform Dating: How to Select a Keeper

February 11, 2015 15:29 by Dana Peters
With so many ‘fish in the sea’ so to speak, it can be difficult to navigate today’s dating world. The same is true for finding the right virtual learning platform for your organization. Choosing the right platform for your virtual instructor-led training program is critical to its ongoing success, and is one of the four crucial steps we believe organization’s need to focus on when implementing, and enhancing, such a program. With over 100 platforms on the market, and new ones appearing in the market place every time you turn around, your organization is not short on options. And for some, the complexity of too many choices might be a big part of the challenge, but just like dating, it’s really about compatibility. Start With Questions The first step in selecting the most appropriate tools and technology for your organization is to ask a lot of questions. What type of training will you provide? What level of engagement is necessary for the class to be the most beneficial for everyone involved? Who are your participants? What access do they have to a quiet space to participate in a virtual class? Do they have access to a computer and the appropriate audio connection to participant in a virtual class? Who will be delivering the training? What are their existing capabilities? How do you envision virtual training in your organization might grow and expand over the next few years? Are there other applications in which this platform might be utilized? (Example: a sales presentation with potential customers, or training for existing clients on a new product). Once you have a clear understanding of your big picture needs you will be able to narrow your options down more efficiently as you start to investigate options.Create Your Short List The ease of use for both your delivery team and your participants is something to consider closely. On a basic level, most virtual learning platforms are designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use, but there will still be a learning curve so keep in mind who will be utilizing the platform as well.  Are your primary participants tech savvy people, or will they need a simple platform with lots of outlined instructions to gain the most benefit from your training course? Again, like any long-term relationship, it’s most important to find the right balance.The ability to customize the classroom set up may or may not be an important consideration. The more customizable the platform is, the more complex it is to administer, work with, maintain, and manage. While less customizable platforms may seem more restrictive from an instructional design perspective. Budget is an important factor. Each organization is going to have different needs as it relates to how the platform is deployed. Many platforms offer multiple options dependent on the client’s size and technical requirements. In larger cases, an enterprise on premise solution may be required where smaller organizations is a managed services or on demand solution may fit the bill.The financial aspect is an important part of the equation so it makes sense to sit down and really discuss the investment. Once an annual spend is agreed to it helps to narrow your list of contenders. There may also be compatibility and security issues to consider with your organization’s internal systems, PCS, Mac computers, and even wireless and remote connections. Engaging your internal IT in these conversations will be an important step in this process.Testing The Waters Dating typically starts with casual lunches, meet ups for coffee or a few cocktails. Rarely, do people jump right into a long-term commitment. For success, it’s important to test out the compatibility between you and your virtual training platform too. Utilize short-term trials of specific platforms to test out your top three choices. Seeing the platforms in action, as you and your team plan to use them will be extremely beneficial. What platforms have you implemented? What has worked, and what challenges did you face? I’d love to hear your feedback. From our perspective finding the right virtual platform for your program is just one important component to implementing a successful program. If you’re wondering what the other components are, you can read about them in my post: Building Bullet Proof Online Training Programs.