June 2020
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TD Magazine

A Sign of the Times

Monday, June 1, 2020

When we started planning this month's issue in January, little did we know how pertinent the cover story's topic would eventually become. Back then, an article detailing a step-by-step process for converting face-to-face training to virtual training sounded like a great nice-to-know resource for our readers, something that talent development professionals could keep handy until the appropriate time. Fast-forward a couple months, and it's crystal clear why such a process has upgraded to need-to-know status.

According to the Association for Talent Development's 2019 State of the Industry report, instructor-led, face-to-face classrooms were the setting for 54 percent of learning hours used in 2018. In comparison, virtual classrooms (live and synchronous) constituted only 11 percent of learning hours used.


Now with business travel halted, many workplaces left empty, and in-person training put on hold for the foreseeable future, virtual training has become a high-priority item. And as authors Melissa Grey Satterfield and Tracy Montano explain in their article, what you want to avoid when creating virtual training is an "extremely presentation-heavy and unengaging" end product "that looks more like a webinar than a virtual classroom course."

The authors' strategy is to complete an audit of the instructor-led program to ensure that your conversion covers all the course objectives while also keeping learners engaged with activities suited for the virtual environment. The audit will help confirm that the "result of a conversion is an effective virtual classroom course," they write.

I'm curious how severe the shift will be in the State of the Industry data regarding organizations' use of virtual training in 2020 compared with face-to-face training. Also interesting will be whether virtual classrooms will remain a highly used delivery mode for the long term as opposed to a short-term solution to get companies through today's reality.

About the Author

Vanessa St. Gerard is editor-in-chief of TD magazine.

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