“Virtual classrooms” or “VCs” aren’t phrases immediately associated with workplace learning and development.
The odd Google search on “virtual classroom” typically offers EdTech articles. Most Twitter searches also refer to education. The word “virtual” may even make you think of headsets, virtual reality, or VR, as it’s commonly known.
Phrases such as “online learning environment”, “distance learning platform” or “virtual learning environment” (VLE) are much more recognised with workplace L&D.
Virtual classrooms – here’s our definition:
A virtual classroom is a digital environment that allows for live, collaborative and interactive learning, facilitated by an online trainer.
If you have used GoToMeeting, Skype for Business or Zoom for virtual meetings, you will have seen a fraction of what a virtual classroom can do.
Virtual classrooms (or VCs) deliver cost-effective digital opportunities for staff development and keep the personal interaction e-learning often lacks. The cost of face-to-face training hasn’t reduced over the years (venues can be expensive to hire, not to mention catering) and the digital solution of e-learning can be as costly and/or not an appropriate sole equivalent.
Examples – how?
VCs offer an alternative method to delivering L&D and provide benefit when used to bridge the digital space between face-to-face training and e-learning.
A new process
You may want to introduce a new process and gauge employee views. A VC provides you with a digital space to present the proposed change in an engaging way with employees fully immersed in the session. They can utilise the interactive whiteboards, that simulate flipcharts, to share their views by writing live on screen. This provides a safe environment for them to feedback and not feel overtly exposed in a face-to-face setting.
A full day out of the office isn’t necessary and neither is the adoption of e-learning at this early stage.
Driving change in a large organisation is challenging especially with multiple teams across locations.
A VC is more personal than a company-wide email or town hall communication and fosters collaboration by involving key stakeholders and getting their input from the start. Participants can be segmented into separate virtual rooms, like breakout sessions, for focused collaboration in small groups.
There is no need to schedule multiple dates to communicate with staff face-to-face and no expenses incurred – your people are onboard with the change from the off.
Induction and onboarding
VCs support staff inductions and the onboarding process with online activity to build team spirit and personal support. The online environment provides several options to create engagement, from screen sharing, videos, audio and live chat, to polls, quizzes and interactive drag and drop exercises.
The gap between a face-to-face HR induction and mandatory e-learning, such as compliance and health and safety courses, is bridged with interactive and fun activities. We recently worked with a client to help convert a six-week induction programme from face-to-face to VC.
Purpose – why?
VCs provide an interactive and engaging approach to workplace learning, as part of a blended or stand-alone offering, that aligns with how people learn and consume information.
Full days of training are transformed into shorter sessions, fitted around busy schedules, at a fraction of the cost of face-to-face training. Most importantly that all-important human aspect is retained.
Bespoke VCs can convert an outdated approach to training, modernise a stagnant learning culture and boost performance company-wide. It can also rejuvenate internal communications so that employees are more motivated and engaged with business aims and the employer brand.
Despite the lack of Google search results, forward-thinking organisations across sectors are adopting VCs as part of their L&D strategies for many learning purposes – management training, skills improvement, new systems training and more.