Training has undergone many changes in the last 20 years. For decades, it wasn’t unusual for employees to travel to another city, stay in a hotel, attend two or three days of training, and then returned home. Employers hoped that they had learned something that would be beneficial to their job along with having a good time while they were away. You still see that model in conferences and trade shows. Today’s conferences like trainings of yesteryear, tend to be held in somewhat exotic locations with other non-training related activities close at hand. Places like Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego have long been centers for training, trade shows and conferences. I still remember conversations while I was still working for a company about choosing the best place to go to attend training. The conversation rarely was about cost or accommodations but mostly about other activities available at different sites.
New Methods of Training
Because of changes in the economy, businesses have been forced to reduce costs and so training is becoming increasingly virtual. That was the one of the reasons for developing Learning Management Systems – to allow for virtual training in a systematic way. With an LMS, you didn’t have to send an employee someplace to attend training, they could attend it at their own desk. Unfortunately Learning Management Systems earned a bad reputation because content often was copied directly from the face-to-face training. Some learning designers didn’t realize the different needs and requirements for development materials on a different platform.
An improvement to virtual training content and its development have taken place over the last few years with new instructional design theories and as new instructional designers entering the workforce. Some of the benefits of new thinking can be seen in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) such as Coursera, edX and Udacity. However, for a company to make use of these generic virtual training options they will need to spend some time previewing the content of class to make sure they are choosing the best option available that meets their needs. While many newer courses have been specifically designed for virtual training, there are still some that simply record an instructor lecturing and may give learners class notes and hand-outs copied straight from a college classroom.
A new player in this arena is Udemy. Udemy has long been known for classes developed for hobbyists and beginning learners in topics, but they have entered the business training field with a new offering – Udemy for Business. Udemy for Business is leveraging their well-developed platform for use on a commercial level as a vehicle for businesses professional development needs. Not all 45,000 courses from their regular catalog will be available to business learners, but the 2,000+ that are included were selected for their business usability.
Virtual training can reduce cost for a company, whether it’s with your own LMS or by using one of the generic virtual options available. However, do your homework ahead of time to make sure which ever one you choose will meet your needs. If not, you might as well send your people to someplace warm where they can work on their tan.