Culture Shock…Is Your Organization Prepared to Support Virtual Learning?

February 5, 2015 08:52 by Dana Peters

In the past, I’ve talked about four components organizations need to focus on in order to implement, and maintain, a successful, virtual instructor-led training program.

One of those components is taking the steps to create a culture and climate, within your organization, that encourages, supports, and prepares your online learners.

For many organizations, this component often gets overlooked.

Culture drives everything you do within your organization, and it’s no different with virtual training.

Taking the steps to market the program internally, garner executive level support, and implementing specific steps to adequately prepare participants to learn in a virtual environment can mean the difference between a vILT program that is “just OK,” and one that can really knock someone’s socks off.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

In a work environment where we’re already doing more with less this sounds like a lot of work. Let’s break this component down into pieces. 

Marketing

Creating awareness and buzz around the program you want to implement is not only beneficial, but also crucial to its success.

If possible, enlist the help of your marketing department. Create a message that sells the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the class, and then deliver it frequently and in different ways. The audience needs to know what they are gaining from taking the class. It’s important to express the value, the relevance, and why the class is a solution to a specific problem or need they have.

Executive Level Support

Leaders have a major influence in shaping an organization’s culture. In order for any major shift in “how we do things” to be successful it must have adequate support and backing from leaders at the top. Even better, a leader championing the “new way.”

Show your managers and senior executives the technology you’ve selected, and illustrate the benefits the organization will reap from implementing a successful program. Common benefits we see with clients are:

  • Cost savings. Money in travel alone to attend or deliver training, not to mention lost productivity time while out of the office on the road.
  • More convenient and flexible training opportunities for both learners and presenters.
  • Collaboration opportunities. Learners have access and exposure to the expertise of their distant colleagues they may not normally be able to attend training with.

Show your executives the value of the program, and the plan for marketing the material, and let them be your advocates.

Preparing Your Learners

Taking steps to adequately prepare your learners for the virtual training experience will be crucial to the success of your program.

For many participants, the virtual learning environment is new, and unfamiliar. In addition to constructing a marketing message for the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the program it’s important to focus on the ‘how’ as well.

Participants should be informed of the tools and equipment needed to access the virtual training sessions and what the expectations and outcomes will be as a result of the session. This should be done, not surprisingly, well in advance.

Demonstrations of the virtual learning environment (as you plan to use it) should be scheduled to visually show the ease of use of your designated platform. This could be as easy as a quick video tutorial or as in depth as a live orientation session.

Additionally, documentation and instructions should be distributed to learners, and additional direction, instructions, and platform use reminders should be built in to the training sessions.

As your learners become more familiar with the virtual learning environment, they should become more comfortable.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Have you had experience implementing similar ideas in your company? I would love to hear your feedback.
 
From our perspective this component in our approach is just as important as the other three. If you’re wondering what the other components are, you can read about them in my post: Building Bullet Proof Online Training Programs.

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