Are you Ready to Return to the Corporate Classroom?
As 2020 comes to a close, many learning and development professionals are wondering if the path forward is to keep training online or return to a classroom setting. L&D pros know that the key to driving higher learner engagement is to get managers to make learning a priority for their teams, understand what skills to build, and know what courses to recommend. But is online learning the best approach to take?
There are many benefits to going back to in-person classrooms, but what about the benefits we’ve seen from conducting training online? Let’s take an in-depth look into the pros and cons of each, so L&D pros can forge the best path forward.
What Does Online Training Usually Look Like?
Online training, sometimes called web-based training, refers to instruction delivered over the internet to learners. Unlike traditional methods, online training allows employees to participate in a classroom-like experience regardless of their physical location.
There are many benefits to online training, such as:
● Online training platforms offer increased adaptability for learners and teachers.
● Going online was (and still is) crucial for curbing the spread of COVID-19.
● Online training allows learners to go at their own pace and learn in a comfortable environment.
● Online learning takes 40 to 60 percent less time of employees than traditional learning.
What Does In-Person Learning Offer in a Corporate Setting?
The benefits of in-person learning have been studied for many years. In-person training allows for group activities and interactive projects, and it provides a greater sense of community than virtual offerings.
More Benefits of Classrooms:
● In-person classrooms allow for heightened focus and attention on content.
● In-person learning provides the opportunity for meaningful dialogue, discussion, and debate. It’s much easier to enter into a dialogue in person than virtually.
● Classrooms create a social environment that being in a Zoom call doesn’t quite match.
How to Return to the Corporate Classroom Safely?
Since there are many benefits to online and in-person training, many of us are devising ways to move forward with a training strategy that incorporate both methods. Here are a few suggestions for how to return to the classroom safely while keeping some virtual elements in mind.
1. Promote behaviors that reduce COVID-19’s spread.
According to the CDC, it is important for organizations moving to in-person learning to follow and promote behaviors that help keep everyone safe. These include:
● Frequent hand washing and surface cleaning
● Spacing out desks and workspaces
● Maintaining social distancing of at least six feet
● Wearing masks
Make sure everyone follows these guidelines and promotes healthy behavior.
2. Plan and prepare for symptoms of COVID-19.
Organizations beginning to operate in-person should expect that employees, managers, or corporate teachers may contract symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and they should know what to do when this happens.
● Encourage employees who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to work from home.
● Provide educational resources to everyone about good hygiene and what to do when they feel sick.
3. Keep some virtual elements to training.
The CDC lists hybrid learning as medium risk for contracting COVID-19. This is where most employees participate in in-person training, while some participate in virtual training. Find fun ways to incorporate a virtual aspect to training so that everyone feels like they are receiving the best of both worlds.
● Create slides that are mini activities by asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions and allowing employees to begin a virtual discussion on answers.
● Use the virtual whiteboard when teaching to maintain interest.
● Switch off which groups will meet in person each day. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to work from home and go at their own pace, and meeting back up in person will provide an interesting change and a chance to talk in person about the material they are learning.
● Find fun virtual training games that make learning seem more like playing.
There are many ways that we can make returning to the corporate classroom safe and engaging for all members of the team. Although there will be challenges, learning and development professionals will rise to the challenge of providing the material and context for learners to thrive.