Getting The Most From Your Virtual Training.
Training’s a pain, and everyone knows it. That’s why companies like our own sister company Optimum Results get paid good money to come into your organisation and take that pain off the hands of management or Human Resources – we’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s in the context of that kind of outsourcing that elearning and online training first rose in popularity, and it’s understandable why. With traditional training you had the time-and-money-expensive proposition of providing training materials, testing and collating the results, taking your employees away from the duties to gather in a room while the work of your business was temporarily abandoned. Online training seemed an answer to all of that. Buy in generic content (a pdf document or something like that), let your employees skim through it on a PC, and reuse it again and again and again. Add to that that corporate training and education experts said it was actually better than traditional training (knowledge retention improving by anything from 25 to 60%; there’s lots of statistics, you can find some more here) it seemed like we’d entered a brave new world where everyone would be taught by computer and learn better for it.
However, as with everything, online training may be more complicated than you think. If you’re reading this blog I’d imagine you’ve been considering virtual training for your staff, or looking to source online training content. We can help with that, certainly (just click here) and if you’re looking for the kind of simple pdf for employees to skim, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, while this would certainly be cheap, it wouldn’t necessarily represent the best value for your organisation. For example: are your employees viewing these documents in your company’s training room? Are they leaving their desks and their duties to sit there reading? How do you confirm that they’ve read and understood the information? And how do you report and record the training data (Who took what course? Who’s enrolled in upcoming courses? Did they complete the training? How successfully?)? In this form online training still represents a substantial drain on your resources, but that’s because online training in that form is still quite a basic animal, and doesn’t represent all the benefits to your business that it might.
Consider this – instead of administrating your employee training by emailing each individual with the time and date of their training, you could simply enrol them in a course and have all notification happen automatically. Instead of providing a row of PCs in a dusty old training room, your employees could access training content from their desktop or even from their tablets or smartphones. Instead of calling your employees away from their work to that training room however-many at a time, they could log onto the training at a time that best suits them, and complete it when it’s least disruptive to their duties. Then, once the training is complete, instead of you or your manager following up with your employees and filling training results data into an Excel sheet becoming ever-more lengthy and ever-less inspected, all the results data would be automatically recorded, and reports populated based on any filter you choose. That’s when you’re reaping the benefits of online training.
Essentially, what you’re talking about here is a learning management system – a system to manage the online training content. You buy or create your online training course (in health & safety, or food hygiene, or data security, whatever is relevant to your business) and you need a place to put it – to store it and through which your employees can access it. At its most basic level, that’s what an LMS is. Up until recently, a system capable of any more than those basic functions would have been expensive and probably required meetings with the system designer (bespoke systems like that still have their place – we still build dedicated systems for clients with very specific training needs) but that kind of investment of time and expertise traditionally didn’t come cheap, and so were largely the province of the big corporate players.
Times have changed though, cloud computing has opened up a whole plethora of new options to more and more levels of the SME market, and these days there are literally hundreds of options for cloud-based elearning systems available to all. It’s simply a matter of signing up (most, like us, offer a free trial of their system straight off the bat), uploading your training content and enrolling your employees, then notifications and reporting are taken care of by the system. A cloud-based system has the advantage of being accessible anywhere, anytime once the user has the proper login information, and seeing the results is as simple as logging on and clicking on a tab.
This is the advantage of online training – it’s not a dodge around compliance or a way to do an awkward job on the cheap – it’s about using the most up-to-date technology available to streamline the jobs that previously took a long time and a large investment of resources. We have 20 years’ experience in business training, we know good (and bad!) training practice when we see it and (unlike a lot of our competitors, who build their LMSs as platforms for experienced trainers or educational institutions) we’ve designed our simple, subscription-based LMS service to answer the practical, everyday needs of ordinary businesses. We can sell you your online training content, or design it for you bespoke, but think a little deeper, consider the real costs and benefits of training, and the value of an LMS is clear – it’s not simply what training content you provide, it’s how smart you are when using it.