Delivering Interactive Training Online

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Even in today’s tough economy, employee and customer training is simply not a luxury organizations can eliminate.

In fact, many believe that training is even more essential in these times, to ensure organizations have the right people with the right skills to stay competitive. And many companies are trying to ride out current market conditions (and hopefully thrive) by rolling out new services and products or adopting new technologies, strategies, or policies – all of which require training sessions to inform and educate employees and customers.

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Delivering Interactive Training Online

  1. 1. Delivering Interactive Training Online In today’s business world, organizations are realizing that traditional, in-person training sessions might not meet their needs or budgets. Even in today’s tough economy, employee a new billing application, or new manufacturing and customer training is simply not a luxury equipment—is introduced into an organization. organizations can eliminate. A smaller set of employees, including managers and In fact, many believe that training is even more production-line team leaders, often need specialized essential in these times, to ensure organizations Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing certification have the right people with the right skills to stay training to ensure quality standards are met. There competitive. And many companies are trying to is also a growing need for training to meet new data ride out current market conditions (and hopefully privacy and regulatory compliance requirements. thrive) by rolling out new services and products or And sales staffs and customers frequently need adopting new technologies, strategies, or policies – special training whenever a new product or service all of which require training sessions to inform and is rolled out. educate employees and customers. At the same time, a company might need to retrain Additionally, companies are encountering a growing employees whose skills are outdated, or refresh old need for different types of training. For example, skill sets as tools evolve. it’s quite common to train all employees or a large group of employees when new technology—such All of this comes at a price. The American Society as new software like Microsoft Windows Vista, for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates that U.S. companies typically spend over $100 billion per year on training. A 2008 Washington Post article Executive Summary noted that U.S. businesses spend from $200 million • U.S. companies typically spend over $100 to $300 million a year on diversity training alone. billion per year on training • Training is even more essential now to stay An Unwieldy Beast competitive in today’s tough economic times The rapid introduction of new technology and rollout • Companies are encountering a growing need of new products and services means organizations for different types of training must conduct training for employees and customers • Today’s more geographically dispersed, more all the time. mobile workforce and customer base adds to the training challenge Accomplishing this is getting more challenging • What’s needed is an online training solution that because of fundamental changes in the way replicates the best of in-person training. businesses operate.1
  2. 2. First, business is global today, no matter the size of breed. The number of U.S. employees who worked a company. Many organizations have offices around remotely at least one day per month increased 43 the world. And even small companies that do not percent between 2003 and 2009 to 33.7 million have a global reach often have geographically telecommuters, according to WorldatWork, a global dispersed customers, thanks to Web sites touting human resources association. With so many people products and services and online marketplaces. taking advantage of this opportunity, scheduling for This means customer training is now a global training sessions can become a logistical nightmare. undertaking for most businesses. Success Through Online Training Second, corporate decentralization aided by lower- cost telephone and data services has resulted in Training today’s geographically dispersed workforce a highly dispersed workforce. Workers are very can be challenging. likely to be in small offices scattered around the country. Some industry analysts claim that about Early distance learning and training attempts tried to 80 percent of all employees now work away from reach widely scattered audiences using computer- their company’s headquarters. Traditional, in-person based self-paced learning systems or video. But training might prove to be impractical and cost- these methods only offer one-way delivery of prohibitive as trainers would need to visit hundreds information. And traditional Web presentations use to thousands of offices or employees would need to a different medium to deliver the same one-way travel to headquarters. information flow. The biggest problem with these approaches is that The rapid introduction of new technology the in-person experience is not duplicated — the and rollout of new products and services audience cannot get involved. In a classroom or means organizations must conduct training conference room training session, employees or customers can stop the instructor at any time and for employees and customers all the time. ask questions. Additionally, with these methods, the trainer does Third, many workers are simply not in the office. not get any feedback from the remote audience, Mobile phones, laptops, WiFi hot spots, and high- so he or she doesn’t know whether the audience speed wireless data services allow sales reps, is paying attention or understands the presented service consultants, visiting nurses, and others to material. keep the number of trips into the office to a bare minimum. These workers can get their jobs done on What’s needed is an online training solution that the road, in the field, or from their homes. Thanks replicates the best of in-person training. Features to to the enabling technologies, and the desire of accomplish this and make online training effective workers to better balance work and home life, a and interactive for today’s more global and more 2010 IDC study on mobile workers estimated that mobile workforce include: 75.5 percent of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2013. This means there is and will be a frequent • A method to invite and profile attendees. need to train workers remotely. With employees and customers scattered around the world, working in remote offices or Fourth, even workers who are based in an office at home, there must be a formal way to ensure might not be around when training is scheduled. As everyone who needs training is notified about employees strive to balance work and home life and a session. And to ensure that training meets reduce spending on commutes, many companies the audience’s needs, there should be a way allow people to occasionally work from home. to gather information about attendees before These occasional telecommuters are a growing the session. One way to accomplish these2
  3. 3. tasks is to use e-mail invitations with links to a customizable registration page, where Training today’s geographically organizations or trainers can ask questions to dispersed workforce and customer profile their audience and tailor the content base can be challenging. accordingly. • A way to track attendance. Organizations or her computer and have this demonstration need to know if a person attended a training appear on attendees’ computer screens. session. It might be to ensure all employees know how to use a new application, thus • A way to gauge the audience’s reducing the workload on IT. In some cases, participation and attention level. As is the HR might need to confirm that all employees case with actors in live theatre, instructors took a mandatory diversity training or workers conducting in-person training get instant benefits course. If the course is for certification feedback from their audience as a session (say, for Six Sigma training) or for compliance proceeds. Noticing everyone looking out the or safety training, workers will need proof they windows, an instructor might ask questions attended the session. to engage the audience. Similarly, noting a sudden look of confusion on everyone’s face, • One-click access to training sessions. an instructor might go over material again. Employees and customers will likely have For online training to be effective, instructors varying degrees of technical competency. And need to connect with the audience. As such, since many are located outside the office, an online training solution must include there likely will be no IT staff to help them if the ability to ask a quick yes/no hands-up problems arise. So access to an online training question of the attendees to see who is event must be made as simple as possible. paying attention. The solution should also One way to accomplish this is to offer one- allow the instructor to post polls and surveys click access to the session. The link to the at various times during the session to gauge session can be provided, for example, in a how well the audience comprehends the confirmation e-mail message. material. For these features to be useful, the instructor needs a Web dashboard that • Audio options for attendees. Look for a presents the results of the questions and solution that has an integrated toll-free option polls, and shows who’s actively viewing the which reduces costs, giving you a predicable training. With this information in hand, the pricing model for your organization. instructor can take appropriate action. • Tools for instructors to present material. • Two-way communications. One limitation Besides the standard Web presentation of early distance learning applications and of slides, additional tools can help make Web seminars is that they often only allow a training session more engaging and information to flow in one direction – from interactive. For example, when running an the instructor to the trainee. In an in-person in-person training session, a presentation training session, attendees just need to could be projected on a screen in the room. raise their hands if they have a question. An When a question arises, the instructor might online training solution can provide a similar turn to a blackboard to answer the question experience by allowing attendees to ask or illustrate a point. The online equivalent can questions and raise hands electronically. be achieved by giving the instructor drawing Taking the two-way communications a step and annotation tools. Another helpful feature further, if a student in an in-person session has is screen sharing. This allows the instructor a problem – for example, they cannot launch to run an application or perform a task on his an application – the instructor can come to3
  4. 4. solution should offer a way to record and GoToTraining helps organizations signifi- play back a session for later viewing. Going cantly improve employee and customer hand-in-hand with this capability, the solution needs to track who views the recordings to training, reduce the costs of training by cut- ensure those who missed the live session, but ting travel and phone charges, and provide watched it after the fact, are given credit for a highly positive and interactive experience completing the training. for both instructors and students. Citrix Online as Your Technology Partner his or her desk and show them how it is done. GoToTraining™ Screen sharing capabilities can create the same experience in an online session. GoToTraining is an easy-to-use online training service that allows you to move your entire training • A way to test information retention and program online for more efficient customer and get feedback after the session. Once employee training. Hold unlimited online training an employee or customer training session sessions with up to 200 attendees from around the is finished, instructors and organizations world – right from your Mac® or PC. Reach more need to know if the session was valuable trainees, collect real-time feedback, record and or met its objectives. When a training store your training sessions and more – all while session is done in person, the instructor and slashing travel costs. managers can circulate a questionnaire or chat with attendees to gauge the session’s GoToTraining helps organizations significantly effectiveness. To get this type of feedback, an improve employee and customer training, reduce online training solution should support a post- the costs of training by cutting travel and phone session survey that goes to all participants. charges, and provide a highly positive and The solution must also aggregate the interactive experience for both instructors and answers to make the information more useful. students. Its cost-effective approach to meeting the Depending on the questions asked, the post- training needs of today’s organizations delivers a session survey can yield information about the rapid return on investment to businesses of all sizes. effectiveness of the training, the strengths and As Don Clark of Papa John’s International puts it, “If weaknesses of a trainer, and the value of the we conduct only five training sessions a year, that’s information to the employee or customer. $50,000 in travel savings.” l • Ability to record a training session. The primary intent for online training is for real-time education. But organizations might want to For more information, go to: record the session in case someone missed www.gototraining.com the training. For this reason, the online training4

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