The most successful teams include employees who are lifelong learners, capable of mastering new tools and strategies for success. Continuing employee education is a vital part of creating a workforce that can meet new challenges and propel businesses forward. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many corporate trainings online, trainers and educators must understand and embrace the virtual training technologies available to them. When designed with intention, virtual training can be even more effective and engaging than in-person learning.
Dr. Jennifer Richardson, professor of learning design and technology in Purdue University’s corporate training and communication online master’s program, believes that investing in virtual training is more important now than ever before. Her students work in corporate training, curriculum development, and assessment for a variety of organizations. The program prepares graduates to employ best practices in teaching and learning to improve an organization’s bottom line.
“In this era, having the knowledge and skills to know how to develop effective virtual training effectively and efficiently for meaningful learning saves time and money but also can keep learners motivated and engaged in the workplace,” Richardson says. “Thinking about our more global workforce, virtual training environments are a necessity.”
Technology Tools That Make Online Learning Effective
Incorporating technology into employee training has benefits, including supporting more flexibility in the learning process, building 21st century skills, increasing student engagement, and accelerating skill-building. These advantages are possible due to the introduction of new learning technologies that enhance the effectiveness of virtual learning while minimizing the drawbacks, such as learners becoming distracted or disengaged.
Modern virtual training tools keep students absorbed by mimicking the experiences students would have in a non-virtual classroom. Features that corporate trainers can use to make their virtual trainings more engaging and effective include:
- Simulations. Tools like virtual labs and 3D modeling enable learners to practice new skills in real time and receive instantaneous feedback without worrying about real-world consequences.
- Feedback. In today’s virtual classrooms, chat features give learners the ability to discuss training content among themselves or with the instructor. Video provides a way for instructors to record comments for repeated review.
- Demonstrations. Collaboration happens in real time thanks to elements like screen-sharing and virtual whiteboards, which allow instructors to draw diagrams, write key terms, and highlight relevant text and images to visually communicate training content.
- Knowledge checks. Trainers make assessments more engaging through quizzes, polls and other resources strategically placed throughout their sessions.
The Future of Virtual Learning
The virtual training landscape is still rapidly developing, with more advanced training technologies being introduced all the time. Virtual training is likely to become a mainstay of employee education. Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) headsets and the metaverse concept could make virtual education more real than ever before. As new virtual training technologies are introduced, corporate trainers will need to expand their repertoire of tools and update their methodologies.
Purdue University’s fully online master’s program in corporate training and communication prepares professionals in corporate training, human resources, and other communication roles to master the latest training technologies and become skilled corporate educators and strategic communicators. Students have access to courses such as “Learning, Design and Technology” and “Foundations of Distance Education,” which prepare L&D professionals to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of corporate training. To learn more, visit the program’s website.