Have you been tasked with sourcing an external provider for virtual training delivery? Perhaps you’re a leader looking to raise the capability in your crew and considering what virtual training options are out there. You’re not alone.
Learning and Development professionals and leaders across the world are now having to adapt their plans for skills development and workplace training to virtual delivery, and it’s a challenge to say the least.
While there’s plenty of training providers out there, for many of them, virtual learning is a new frontier. The seismic and sudden shift imposed on workplaces because of coronavirus has had both vendors and suppliers scrambling like never before.
This disruption means that the quality of virtual learning experiences can differ quite dramatically between providers and unfortunately, it can lead to some pretty poor learning outcomes and embarrassing tech glitches.
But we’re well past the formative weeks of crisis response and you’re likely strategising how to build capability and skills, even in an environment where budgets are getting cut left right and centre, and the go-to training methodology of face-to-face training isn’t workable.
With this context in mind, it’s more important than ever to do your due diligence before signing off on the delivery of any virtual learning across your organisation. To help you along your way, below are five key questions to ask when comparing and researching virtual training companies.*
Ready to get stuck in? Let’s get to it.
*We’ve also included a virtual training checklist at the bottom for you to use. Enjoy.
Questions to ask when choosing a virtual training company
How much investment have they made in the virtual learning platform?
When working with an external training provider to deliver a virtual learning experience, it’s worth getting a clear understanding of the production quality they can offer before signing off. In a virtual setting it’s the technical elements that can make or break the learning experience; video quality, audio quality and studio setting all contribute to the professionalism of program delivery.
Risk assessment is a part of any L&D strategy, and this has increased markedly in the current context. Will there be dropouts? Is there quality equipment to support the platform? If you’re about to roll tens or hundreds of managers through training, you want to know the provider is as committed to the craft as you are to the outcomes your organisation requires.
The big question is, ‘If they haven’t invested at their end, do you really want to invest at your end?’. I know what my answer would be…
What engagement techniques and tools do they use in virtual training delivery?
While many virtual training companies will be quick to share that they have the capability to split participants into break out rooms for conversational learning activities or use a chat function, if this is the only engagement tool they have available, it’s just not going to cut the mustard.
In a virtual training environment keeping participants engaged in the learning is a considerable challenge that requires a variety of activities and carefully considered strategies to be effective, especially during long-term program delivery.
Think about it this way – how many times could a live presenter ask you to “Turn to the person next to you” in a face-to-face scenario before you got sick of it? Yep, it wouldn’t take too long for that to get repetitive, and the same can happen in a virtual training setting.
Can you preview the experience beforehand?
You wouldn’t sign off on large-scale delivery of a face-to-face program without seeing the learning materials and agreeing on a location for the sessions, would you?
When choosing a virtual training company, ask to preview the learning experience so that you can get an accurate picture of what you’re signing on for. It’s one thing for the training organisation to say they offer a certain level of production quality, and it’s another to see the audio and visual elements in action and live for yourself.
Unfortunately there are a raft of training providers who are shooting high-end promo videos to give the illusion of top quality production, but when it comes to the real-time experience it’s a long way short.
If you’d like to experience a multi-camera virtual learning studio for yourself, book in for a tour of our PTV studio, all from the comfort of your (home) office. It’ll give you a sense of what quality should look, sound and feel like.
Have they created relevant learning experiences or have they just recycled face-to-face programs?
The next consideration in choosing a virtual training company is the structure of program delivery. While many external training providers offer their own off-the-shelf training programs, it’s important to clarify whether the delivery of the material has been adapted to the virtual learning environment. Simply running through the training material in a live facilitated session as if it were a face-to-face session isn’t going to provide the level of engagement that you’re looking for.
Two areas to look for in seeing if their learning methodology is contextualised is to view how contemporary their current offerings are as well as how previous programs are reshaped to suit virtual delivery.
Do they offer pre and post program support offerings?
Finally, when researching and comparing virtual training providers it’s worth enquiring about the pre and post program learning support they can offer. Pre-program content can be used to frame up the learning and provide helpful context, whereas post-program content can be used to summarise and embed the learning outcomes.
While these areas aren’t essential for good virtual learning experiences, they can help with accountability and embedding in a solo, WFH environment in the days and weeks after program delivery.
Found this list helpful? If you’re keen to take this with you as you research and compare virtual training providers, click on the image below to download a copy of our checklist.
And while you’re at it, why not take a look at our very own world-class virtual training experience, PTV.