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.

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