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Virtual learning it’s place in the future of learning strategy

MPI Learning Blog

Virtual Learning, It’s place in future of learning strategy.

After the challenges of 2020, we can now reflect on the year behind us and begin to assess what is going to stay or go from its impact and our experience? We could be forgiven if we simply wanted to return to a pre-COVID learning world. ‘Phew’ back to normal but we’re not going to do that are we – it’s not an option for now.

What are the lessons learned from lockdown then?

L&D teams have learned what virtual learning and delivery is and does, how to buy it, vs what is good quality delivery or bad. What has a real value and what is poor or what ‘cheap’ means (it’s all in the feedback response).

Finance teams have enjoyed the savings made with non-travel or lack of expenses incurred relating to in-person learning. The planet is benefitting with much improved carbon footprint from the global learning industry.

We can all now use the different communication platforms to access and deliver learning programmes and opportunities, we are connected with several devices in our homes enabling us to learn through virtual means and broadband is faster in most areas, thank goodness.

Globally competing for virtual learning contracts is now a real opportunity if you’re prepared to work with the clock and time zones. Time spent on virtual sessions is best when shorter, sharper and more focussed. Are you a camera on or off person? ‘On’ please – for the facilitators I talk to…. have you been an accidental Cat (filters)? Do you use a backdrop?

Bigger group sessions or broadcast events need moderators in support to help maintain order and feed the Facilitator questions. Online learning is here and embedded as one of the ways we are enabled to develop.

Some businesses have stopped delivering any workshops for now – only doing online learning – we believe this is a mistake, people need to discuss and practice skills or deepen their understanding of cultural or leadership change they have to role model and coach

What would justify a return to delivering or providing an in-person or classroom-based learning experience vs the virtual proposition?

No question, virtual is here to stay – its efficient and sharp in duration

In person is likely to be focussed on premium areas and relationship-based subjects, it’s likely to cost more and so will be carefully budgeted and could be positioned as a reward!

Getting back in classrooms again is firstly about keeping people safe, It’s a bit like us all getting back into theatres, restaurants and pubs again. There are certain things that are much better served by being in a room and through discussing the vital issue, the learning point, assimilation is far more powerful when we do that together in group dialogue (very different from virtual breakouts which are good but constrained).

Practicing skills with people, e.g. Our colleagues or peers build confidence, the social connections we make, the networking, the relationships that are built. Cultures are enriched, teams are energised, people feed off energy, collaboration and alignment occur.

But it can be more expensive – or is it? If we are back in the office (if your company functions best with that model?) simply running the learning in a boardroom or classroom might be a little more expensive but the profits and performance acceleration could be massive by comparison!

Short term pain, long term gain…

The solution is in the blend, the common-sense learning from the year past says continue with delivering your core learning which is best served and most efficiently through virtual and online delivery. Most colleagues are used to using this method now – from all generation’s perspectives!

However, the question remains, where, when and how will In-person learning re-emerge?

  • When businesses have their staff appropriately back in the office through their unique version of the hybrid working model
  • People feel safe, are vaccinated and confident in the data which is tracking down in terms of global new cases and variants
  • Global travel is moving again, to illustrate this we spoke with a global tech client and they believe they won’t be travelling again in any volume until 2022
  • Global economy is delivering the predicted 7-10% bounce back
  • People are just fed up with staring at a 13-inch screen and miss the human connection you get working in a shared environment!
  • Good luck to all friends and colleagues in the learning business as we journey yet again, into the unknown – this time that of a post pandemic world. I for one can’t wait to see what it brings us, it’s always fascinating and challenging with loads of new experiences for us…

Jerry Brown is MD at MPI Learning ltd an international learning and development consultancy.

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