The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced learning and training providers to shift to online mediums to deliver their content. Given health and safety concerns, this is likely to remain the norm for some time.
According to Stella Mikraki at LearnWorlds, e-learning was already growing at a 100% growth rate per year, but due to coronavirus, the demand for their virtual training platform has tripled.
“The pandemic has accelerated the evolution of e-learning into the preferred way of acquiring new skills and knowledge. Even traditional heavy structures, such as universities and schools, had to urgently transition to delivering lectures online. Systems and technology had to be updated, new processes had to be implemented and a totally new way of doing business and interacting with students and customers had to be adopted. We hated that Covid-19 had to be the catalyst, but it made us achieve in four months what would normally have taken ten years. “
In other words, virtual training is here to stay; if you deliver courses and training, you must invest in developing content tailored to online learners. This guide will help you create virtual training programs and strategies for the post-COVID era.
What is virtual training?
Many companies and individual trainers offer programs that are hosted online. They may be delivered through live webinars, self-paced video classes, PDF resources, or online quizzes and hosted through the trainer or company’s website or available on Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms like EdX or Coursera.
How to set up virtual training
Online training is a different beast from in-person training. However, many best practices hold true. You must:
- Stay on topic.
- Prepare and rehearse, especially if you’ll be presenting live.
- Be concise and get to the point.
- If possible, allow space for audience interaction.
Online training is not a matter of “set and forget”. You’ll need to improve your online courses continuously if you want to stay competitive. You might update the content based on new industry developments, or change your structure or format based on student feedback.
With that said, let’s look at the two basic stages of setting up a virtual training class:
There are numerous formats and services you can use for your virtual class.
- Web conferencing tools like Zoom offer a live format that allows you to connect with participants directly. You can also use breakout rooms for smaller group discussions.
- Platforms like YouTube or Uscreen Video Business School allow you to stream video live, or record it to post later. You can enable comments or live chat if you wish. You can even unlist your video and send confirmed participants a link, limiting the number of participants.
- Platforms like Udemy and Coursera allow you to upload your online course material for participants to access at their convenience.
- Create your own school website and market, sell and organize your courses with your own branding and advanced features like community building and marketing funnels
Virtual training opens up many possibilities. Many training providers use live videos or even create a virtual summit featuring multiple live speakers across one or more days. Others have found that recorded videos work best.
Which one is best? That depends! They all have pros and cons. You’ll need to select the best platform for your requirements and budget (I recently posted a list with reviews on my blog eduardklein.com).
The content is the most important aspect of your online training course. It must deliver value to your audience and provide them with useful and actionable takeaways.
Make sure your content meets all the following criteria:
- Addresses specific knowledge gaps or pain points.
- Robustly researched and backed up with facts, statistics, and data.
- Delivered in an engaging, interesting way (a monotone voice can make even the most interesting content seem dull!)
Aim to deliver your content in the most digestible way possible. You might stick to one type of content, or you might use a mix of video, written content such as PDF resources, online quizzes to test knowledge, or audio content such as podcasts.
Exam and certification
Many virtual training platforms offer certification at the end of the course. Tech giant Google, for example, uses online certificates that successful trainees can display on LinkedIn.
You might require attendees to pass an exam or test before issuing the certification, to ensure they’ve retained all the vital information. Platforms like FlexiQuiz or EasyLMS allow you to create quizzes and certificates.
Providing a certificate adds value for your attendees because it allows them to demonstrate their knowledge and prove they’ve had training on a particular topic. This can be valuable when job searching or seeking a raise or promotion.
Go public with your course
There are many ways to make your course public:
- Upload your recorded content to YouTube or Vimeo then embed the video into your training page.
- Add your course to Coursera, Udemy, or LearnWorlds, following the platform’s guidelines.
- Set up an e-commerce store and sell your training courses either as physical products (e.g., training DVDs) or digital products (e.g., ebooks, downloadable resources).
If you’re hosting a virtual event, you can record your Zoom or Prezi session and make this available afterward through a link or via a platform like Youtube.
Market your online school
Unless your course is only available to internal people at your company, you’ll need to market it. There are numerous ways to do this and it will depend on your audience and goals. Email marketing, social media marketing, LinkedIn ads, and especially Social Proof are some of the most effective strategies.
There are plenty of paid and free tools that can help you with the heavy lifting of connecting and selling to your audience.
Whatever methods you use, ensure your promotional content contains the following:
- Date and time (including time zone) if the course is live.
- An outline of the topic and learning objectives.
- Details of the presenter(s).
- Registration details.
You might wish to charge a flat fee for your virtual training. Another effective option is to make the first module free, then charge for more advanced programs.
Process automation to help with the heavy lifting
Does this all sound very time-consuming? It is, to begin with, but once your course is set up you can automate a good deal of the process.
Here are a few things you can automate:
- Email marketing sequences to promote your course.
- Email sequences reminding participants to attend your class, log in to the training or complete an assessment.
- Course delivery itself, assuming the program isn’t live. For example, you can deliver training materials automatically each week by email or through an online training platform.
You can automate your email marketing through tools like Moosend, Omnisend, and ActiveCampaigns or your Instagram Marketing with these. It’s easy to automate course material delivery via the various MOOC platforms such as Coursera and Udemy. Even if you’re delivering an online course live, you can automate everything leading up to and following on from the live presentation.
The world has moved online since COVID-19 struck in early 2020. However, I believe some developments are here to stay. Virtual training offers a tremendous opportunity for businesses and individual training providers to reach learners anywhere in the world. If you haven’t created an online training system yet, you’re missing an opportunity.
Eduard Klein is an international digital growth marketer, blogger, and entrepreneur with a global mindset. He guides people through the process of starting and growing a digital business, and to ride the wave of digital technology and marketing without getting swept away.
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