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The problem with online training courses

As a training manager for the past 12 years, I´ve seen how the online platform's role in training has increased and how the current pandemic accelerated its adoption.

Just today speaking with a colleague he was telling me how a scheduled meeting that was supposed to last 30 minutes online was completed in less than 15 minutes in presence. In his own words: “online there´s a lot of small talk at the beginning and during the meeting to not seem rude that usually is avoided in presential meetings where non-verbal gestures assist in communication.

Does this mean we are going back to in presence training? Definitely but at the same time, online training is here to stay. Multiplies audiences, reduces in-transit time, and on many occasions is very effective.

So what are some of the online training challenges?

  1. Attention span is reduced. There´s definitely less interaction than in-presence meetings and losing your audience's attention is going to happen faster. In my experience, during the last months, no training can go beyond 4 hours as a whole. During that time I recommend presentations no longer than 45 minutes and lots of mini-breaks.
  2. Evaluating is a bigger challenge. During in-presence training there´s room for a lot of group exercises to rehearse and evaluate the adoption of concepts. During online training, your tools are different: online polls, brainstorm apps, games, etc. The important thing to remember is to always “check the temperature” of the audience and its engagement.
  3. A stable internet connection is needed. Seems trivial but during much of my training sessions, some of the attendees had problems getting a stable connection. They either stress unnecessarily or miss key information. Be prepared! If possible record the session to facilitate your attendees to check for the information they missed and accelerate the adoption of key concepts.
  4. Additional feedback will be required. One way to get the additional insight you need is to assign post-training work. Examples: Apply learnings on a real-life scenario and share back what you learned, send a summary with the most important insights you had from the learning, etc.

Despite these challenges, online training has become an invaluable tool in our arsenal as trainers. For me at least they are an integral part of the training curricula and when in-presence training returns a big part is still going to be online training.

What do you think? Please comment!