Virtual Learning: Unlocking the Power of Online Training
There is no doubt that the rapid acceleration of online training has been somewhat forced. However, like many of the changes we’ve had to make due to the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual learning has been one of the silver linings to an otherwise difficult period. The whole business landscape has changed since early 2020, with flexibility and adaptability being crucial. Many staff are working from home, and that may continue long after the pandemic is over. Flexible work arrangements have taken over from the traditional 9-5 work day. As such, businesses have to adapt, and training is a key area of focus.
What is Virtual Learning?
Virtual learning is essentially any form of training that takes place online. Rather than face-to-face or classroom style learning, we’re now seeing a meteoric rise of eLearning, virtual classrooms and other forms of online training courses. Rather than being a hindrance to the learning and development process, though, virtual learning has shown to be extremely effective. We’ll touch on some of the benefits later, but the fact that participants can learn on their own time or from remote locations has made it invaluable in recent times.
Most virtual learning is also quicker. Whether it be short eLearning courses you complete at your own pace, or facilitated virtual classrooms that usually run no longer than 90 minutes. That’s appealing for a lot of participants, who are still adapting to the new normal of work and life.
Virtual learning has also been adopted by schools and universities as a way to maintain education even when students can’t attend class. Whether it’s holding classes over Zoom or using more formal online training platforms, we’re seeing the education system change in front of our eyes. Educational institutions and students alike have discovered there are many advantages of online classes.
Are virtual classrooms the same as eLearning?
The term ‘eLearning’ often gets used to cover any sort of online training. However, eLearning traditionally refers to self-paced online courses. These courses can still be engaging, however there’s no interaction with other participants. The course is pre-programmed, so you work through each step, which may comprise of videos, images, text or quizzes along the way.
Virtual classrooms on the other hand are a more immersive experience. Participants log in to a platform where a facilitator runs a session. Participants are given access to course materials if required, and there can also be the opportunity for questions and input from everyone. There’s also usually a chat function so people can make comments, as this is often easier for the facilitator to manage than having several people trying to talk at once.
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What are the benefits of online learning?
The benefits of online learning are vast, and that’s why businesses love it so much. Some of the most popular benefits include:
- Different learning styles covered
- Shorter sessions
- Access to a huge amount of courses
- Easy to tailor for someone’s learning needs
- Less impact on work schedule
- Can be completed from anywhere
- Simple to book sessions
- Participants learn at their own pace
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but you can see why so many businesses are happy to keep up with an online training model rather than returning to classroom-based learning. With that said, though, face-to-face training still has a place, but the virtual option is great for companies who need more variety.
The stats that matter
It’s fine to make all these claims about how great virtual learning is, but what you really want to know is the stats, right? Statistics tell us a lot about the success or failure of a certain industry, product or process. So, let’s take a look at some of the important numbers that prove how effective virtual learning can be.
Online learning is a rapidly growing market
All learning should be about the participants reaching their learning goals, not the money attached to it. However, financial information does give us an idea of whether an industry is performing well or falling flat. In this case, it’s safe to say that online education is absolutely booming.
In 2016, the digital education industry had a total value of $46 billion worldwide. It’s estimated that by 2022, that figure will skyrocket to around $243 billion1. That’s more than 5x growth. While the pandemic has been largely responsible for the increase, there’s no sign of digital learning slowing down any time soon.
Environmentally friendly learning
Everybody has a focus on sustainability these days. It’s important to find ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint and have a positive impact on our environment. Well, when you consider everything involved in traditional training such as paper, venue hire, electricity, and also commuting, it’s not a particularly eco-friendly way to learn. From the comfort of your own home though? That’s a different story.
It’s estimated that a single online training course can produce up to 86% less carbon emissions than a face-to-face session2. That’s a lot of good work being done for the planet!
Use online learning, increase your profits
Now, for the business owner’s perspective. Naturally, nothing is going to last long in the business world if it doesn’t deliver better productivity, efficiency, profits or all of the above. According to research, online learning gives businesses all that and more.
Companies who use online training have reported 25% more profit than competitors who don’t3. If that’s not enough, companies who favour virtual learning generate a whopping 218% more revenue per employee than those who aren’t using virtual training4. By anybody’s calculations, those numbers are huge.
eLearning is a smart investment
Whatever you do in business, you need to consider the ROI. Return on Investment is one of the most important considerations when making any business decision, because if something doesn’t deliver value, why go to the expense? Well, luckily for those companies who have adopted virtual learning as their preferred method of training, it pays dividends.
Studies have shown that for every dollar a company invests in eLearning and virtual learning, they gain back $30 in productivity5. You won’t find a lot of business tools offering a 30% ROI.
Keeping employees happy
We all know how important employee engagement is in the modern world. That may be even more of a consideration in the new business world, with flexible working arrangements, hybrid offices and so many more changes making it easier for people to look elsewhere.
More good news for fans of online learning, with employees who participate in virtual learning being on average 18% more engaged than others6. We know there’s a link between engaged employees and higher productivity, which is probably confirmed by the fact that virtual learning has been known to increase productivity by 15-25%.7
Retain more of your top talent
No business wants to lose their best people, but the reality is in todays world, if people aren’t happy, they will look around. That doesn’t mean caving in to ridiculous demands, but it does mean you should at least do the basics well. Learning and development has always been linked to employee engagement, and it seems the link goes even further when it comes to online learning.
Studies have found that companies allowing employees to learn online and at their own pace have retention rates anywhere between 25%-50% higher than others8. So, if you want to hang on to the best people you’ve got, eLearning might be the solution.
Online training is the way of the future
Whichever statistics matter the most to you, it’s pretty clear that online learning is here to stay. Companies and individuals alike have embraced it as an effective, practical tool to handle learning and development needs no matter what the world throws at us. For convenience, cost-effectiveness and flexibility, virtual classrooms are powering the new business world now and into the future.