The technology required to deliver online training is now within the reach of even the smallest businesses – so there’s no excuse for your staff receiving inadequate training. From brushing up on basic computer skills to specialised training delivered by international experts, training your staff is now just a few clicks away. Story by Alister Maple-Brown.
Training in any business is critical for continual growth and success. Whether it be interpersonal skills, personal development skills or more specific skills such as using Outlook or Microsoft Word more effectively, training can often be placed in the ‘nice to have’ basket and not the ‘must have’ basket. When finances are tight, this is especially the case. With this view, training becomes a cost rather than being seen as a pathway to cost savings or even as a way of generating revenue and improving services.
There is little doubt that the best form of training, especially as it relates to computer applications, is within a classroom environment where each trainee has their own computer and participates in continual discussion with the trainer and other trainees. In this environment, retention is high due to the fact that trainees are shown how to use a feature and then actually carry out the process on their own. This process ensures a much stronger understanding of each feature as opposed simply seeing how something is done. In addition, the cross pollination of thoughts, ideas and experiences between trainees creates a strong likelihood of knowledge retention.
All this is well and good for businesses that have access to trainers and training courses, however, how about those businesses outside of the major metropolitan areas whose requirements for training are just as great as their counterparts in the cities? How can they access effective, efficient and timely training without leaving the office, spending time traveling (unproductive time) and avoiding the additional expenses associated with overnight accommodation? The answer lies in technology.
Still today, the world of top line video conferencing is largely the domain of big corporations. However, technologies such as Skype and screen sharing services such as Gotomeeting provide extremely effective solutions for the small to medium enterprise (SME) marketplace to provide training to customers situated anywhere where the internet is available.
What is Remote Training?
The idea of remote training means many things to many people. Is it a pre recorded CD or DVD? Is it a workbook? Is it a combination of both or is it something more interactive and dynamic… a situation where a teacher interacts with a student or many students? Or can it apply to all of the above?
Whatever your definition of remote training and whatever the value you place on training, it is certainly true that in recent years, technology has come to the fore in being able to facilitate training for students far and wide both at an individual basis and at a group basis. While the days of expensive video conferencing equipment are still around (and are primarily still outside the grasp of the small to SME market), significant steps have been made by technology providers both from a telephony video and online screen sharing perspective. Online services are plentiful when it comes to training solutions. Well known solutions are Citrix Online’s suite of Gotomeeting and Gotowebinar while Webex and Vyew are also good alternatives.
In the first instance, companies can use Gotomeeting to train customers, colleagues or franchise members in an easy-to-use, intuitive environment that is quick to setup and cost effective to use. This tool allows the trainer to view the trainee’s computer screen and all screen movements. This is especially effective as it ensures that the trainee is actually ‘doing’ the work rather than simply watching something being done. As mentioned, knowledge retention is significantly better in this instance.
As the trainee group grows from one to twelve participants, the same tool can be used and screens can be shared amongst all students. An effective session for a larger group is better lasting within the hour as trainees can sometimes be distracted by the goings on in their offices. The astute trainer, however, is able to monitor trainees’ attentiveness via the software so can ask pointed questions to those who are working on other applications during the training session!
Both these tools are utilised regularly by the team at Rockend. With a large number of clients outside of Metropolitan areas, online training is often the most time and cost effective solution for their education needs. Online training enables users to learn from their desks and alleviate time out of the office.
Should training be required for trainees in the hundreds or thousands, Gotowebinar is an effective tool to manage registration, fees and all aspects of a large scale online meeting. Such events are best run as replacements to the traditional seminar style event where one presenter stands in front of many attendees. Questions are facilitated and it is also possible to switch presenters throughout. This is especially valuable when running an online seminar and the host is in Sydney while the subject matter expert doing the presentation is in Perth. With the click of a few buttons, this can be achieved quickly.
These examples are effective for application training and using presentation tools such as Powerpoint. They are less effective when it comes to viewing the trainer and other trainees live during the sessions. While Webex and Vyew do offer the video conferencing it is still not overly effective but can create the feeling of involvement for the trainees so they don’t feel they are listening to someone they have no idea what they look like.
When video is required in individual or small groups, many companies are turning to web based conferencing solutions as a method of ‘seeing’ who you’re speaking with and/or training with. Universally adopted around the world, Skype offers a free solution for individuals and groups to communicate across the internet using voice and video. Is this a useful and cost effective solution to deliver training? Absolutely! One-on-one interactive training can be very effective using this simple solution. In addition, you are able to meet with, talk to and train a small group of individuals regardless of where they are located.
Realising the Value
The value realised from continual focused training, regardless of which area of the business it is tailored to, is unquestionable. As it relates specifically to software and application learning, huge time savings (ie dollars) and service improvements can be achieved when users learn how to use the tools at their disposal more efficiently. As the diagram illustrates, without the correct training and procedures, investments in software and hardware can sometimes not be fully leveraged. While classroom training is beneficial due to the human interaction, there are newer and most cost effective methods to train many people in far flung locations through the use of innovative technology designed for both business and consumers.
So how can this be used by you?
Are you in a remote location and need training from someone far away? Are you in the city with separate offices and want to bring everyone together online once a month? Is the trainer you would like to hire unable to get to you or are they overseas? Or do you simply need to show someone how to do something quickly and don’t have the time to get to them? How about all the other reasons why remote training tools could be useful to help you achieve your goal?