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According to the Pew Research Center, less than half of Americans are satisfied with their opportunities for training and developing new skills. With the demand for career growth through training only continuing to increase, it’s essential for organizations and government agencies that want to remain competitive to provide quality, easy-to-access opportunities.

In-person training existed as the go-to approach for learning and development for decades of work because there was no alternative that could match the experience, let alone surpass it. Recent technological advancements have provided access to robust tools like virtual classrooms which organizations and government agencies can leverage to take their training to the next level. Pew identified this reality in 2017, noting, “The training ecosystem will evolve…More learning systems will migrate online. Some will be self-directed and some offered or required by employers; others will be hybrid online/real-world classes.”

A blended approach to online training can not only allow an organization to transition efficiently into the use of online training solutions, but this approach can also demonstrate how online learning solutions offer tools and data analytics unavailable to in-person learning and development, affording organizations an even more insightful process.

Benefits most often attributed to in-person training

When thinking about why an organization or government agency may choose to utilize in-person training, there are a handful of perceived advantages that come to mind:

  • Interactive learning experiences with colleagues
  • Real-time feedback and collaboration with instructors and other participants
  • Opportunities to build interpersonal relationships
  • Access to hands-on practice and skill development

In this article, we’ll explore how virtual learning environments can not only offer these same advantages but also introduce a host of new benefits not easily replicated via the physical classroom.

How online training solutions are surpassing in-person training in these areas

First, it should be acknowledged that in-person and online training are inherently different experiences. With this in mind, however, in the realm of e-learning, the focus has shifted from trying to replicate in-person training to delivering those same advantages while incorporating additional value via feature-rich capabilities.

Interactive learning solutions

An often-cited reason many organizations and government agencies prefer in-person training is due to the ability to cultivate interactive learning experiences with colleagues. As online learning solutions have matured in capability, so have the opportunities for interactive learning.

  • With enhanced breakout rooms, hosts can directly share scenario-based exercises to specific breakout rooms, differentiating which groups tackle specific topics or examples. Human resources can focus on HR-related circumstances while your sales team can dissect a customer objection rebuttal. Plus, you can easily allow participants to share their results with the full group in the main room.
  • Use “front of room” features to highlight opportunities and focus on individual participants. Perhaps you’d like to spotlight scenario-based conversations for practice observation. Maybe you’d like to walk through a hypothetical client call or simply allow new hires to present a growth plan during onboarding.
  • Bring the tools you use every day right into your distance learning solution. Deploy websites, files, videos, polls, surveys, and more without leaving the virtual classroom so attention is always where it should be while using the actual tools and technology that will be available to participants in their day-to-day work.

Synchronous and asynchronous learning via e-learning training solutions

Another reason some organizations rely solely on in-person training is the ability for real-time feedback to be offered. This method is seen to provide collaborative efforts that can occur with instructors, as well as other participants. Online training and distance learning solutions can now provide real-time feedback, as well. In fact, online learning solutions can allow organizations to:

  • View engagement and participation metrics for each participant in real time.
  • Export data to correlate it with performance statistics.
  • Decrease ramp-up time with experiential onboarding of new hires by providing a truly interactive practice environment.
  • Increase scale and access to subject matter experts for on-demand support and coaching to increase the profitability of each deal.
  • Let talent development facilitators know exactly where to focus their attention with immediately actionable insights.

Better working relationships

The development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships have been previously seen as a limitation of online lesson platforms. In-person training experiences can see traditional relationship-building occur; however, this is no longer limited to physical proximity. In fact, communicative tools have evolved to allow colleagues to foster interpersonal relationships more effectively than ever online, especially around the top predictors of connection as posed by BetterUp:

Top predictors of connection:

  • Being vulnerable
  • Spontaneous interaction
  • Casual conversation and fun banter
  • Sharing hobbies
  • Getting to know someone on a personal level

Weak predictors of connection:

  • Having a shared background
  • Venting about leadership/job
  • Interacting on work topics
  • Having task dependencies at work

Related: Build Your Online L&D Strategy Based on Connection


Digital hands-on training and collaboration

In-person training provides the ability for individuals to work in hands-on ways to improve their skill development. With the maturation of online training solutions, curriculum platforms, and other e-learning solutions, experiential training is readily available digitally.

By accessing robust online training tools, organizations and government agencies can take “hands-on” learning and collaboration to a new level:

  • Walk new hires through their onboarding process in real-time using the tools they’ll be working with every day or pre-record training to ensure every new hire gets the same, top-caliber training experience.
  • Save money and time by bringing your entire team together digitally rather than paying for travel and reducing learning time to the time available in person as a group.
  • Provide a higher degree of accessibility and convenience, allowing learners to move at their own pace, leverage ADA-compliant technologies, and operate within their own time zone.
  • Allow your training to grow with your company or government agency. As your company expands, your training can be infinitely scalable while still delivering the same consistent, top-notch quality.

Embracing the future of training

Learning and development is only going to continue to grow in importance for organizations and government agencies. The workforce is also going to continue to further embrace digital nomads, remote employees, and hybrid workspaces, as well. By embracing the expanded features and capabilities of online training solutions, your organization can remain competitive in training and retaining the top talent out there.

Ready to see what these robust tools look like in practice? Talk with a Class team member today! Whether onboarding, upskilling, or reskilling, our platform and tools are uniquely designed to take your team members—and your organization—to the next level.

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About Mike
Mike Lovell is the SVP of Marketing at Class. He has dedicated his career to technology and the applications that can innovate the way people live and learn.