The lessons learned from online training

The transition from the physical to online world has been a journey repeated in almost every aspect of our lives at home and work since the beginning of lockdown. For East Midlands Chamber’s business training manager Vicki Thompson (pictured), it’s forced her team into new ways of thinking about how to deliver practical workplace learning without the stigma that online training can bring, as she explains.

In many ways, online training is nothing new, but how we define it has certainly changed over the past few months. Pre-Covid, we already had some

platforms for what you would traditionally call online training, a structured and taught remote learning exercise. But after being forced by

lockdown in March to take a step back and come up with new ideas about how we deliver our programmes, we have responded with our first real commitment to training online, which is how I prefer to define it – or an interactive virtual classroom experience.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONLINE TRAINING AND TRAINING ONLINE? What we’d call online training is the type of web-based distance training that can be carried out anytime, anywhere. It will generally be self-paced, include a video and require the learner to answer multiple-choice questions before moving on to the next module. Training online, however, is

something altogether different. We use video calling platforms such as Zoom and GoToTraining, and have put a lot of time into working out the best delivery. These platforms mean the trainer and delegates can see each other,

and we can move slides to the side of the screen during discussions between participants so conversations flow better. During practical tasks, the trainer

can also see all the delegates’ screens in order to monitor how they’re getting on with the activity, and provide assistance where necessary.

BENEFITS OF TRAINING ONLINE The most obvious benefit of training online is that we’ve been able to continue with staff development, which is critical to the growth of a business and its employees. We’ve been through many

recessions and know that companies will cut their training budget when they encounter financial difficulties. But this period has been different to other recessions so this has allowed businesses that have been quieter to use this time to train their staff. Those on furlough have still been

allowed to train while they have temporarily ceased working, so this has also been an option for some businesses. It’s crucial for companies to

continue staff development during these times and can help re- engage staff who have been away from work for a prolonged period. Having training online has other benefits too, particularly in terms of

saving time. In our director development programme, the delegates enjoyed the fact they could just take three-and-a-half hours out of their day to complete the course rather than having to block a whole day out to account for travelling.

WHAT THE FUTURE OF TRAINING LOOKS LIKE Training online can never fully replace the buzz that people get in a physical classroom. We’ll certainly be looking to

return to face-to-face training when that’s possible – and in some cases we’re already going on site to deliver bespoke programmes in a socially distanced manner.

However, the past few months

has changed perceptions, including mine, about what online training is about and demonstrated how there is a place for it in the “new world”. Interactive virtual classrooms

have opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities in the way we can support individuals. Learners could also be able to

request a 15-minute chat online with a trainer when doing “homework” and certain sessions that are more “taught” than interactive could be held on Zoom instead of a classroom. Like other aspects of the

reimagined workplace, flexibility is going to be key, which is why training online is here to stay.

Marketing course for small businesses

Budding marketeers in small businesses can get to grips with how to give their company the edge and secure loyal customers in a new online training course run by the Chamber. The marketing development programme is aimed at employees within

SMEs whose role is to market and develop the business – whether it’s their main role or part of a larger remit within the organisation.

‘We realised there was a definite gap in our portfolio for marketing’

Sessions include the fundamentals of a marketing strategy, key principles

of marketing planning, identifying target customers and their buying behaviours, marketing and communications planning, the importance of branding and positioning, and mapping a customer’s journey. Vicki Thompson, business training manager at the Chamber, said: “We

already run development programmes for managers, directors and advanced sales excellence, but we realised there was a definite gap in our

58 business network October 2020

portfolio for marketing. Our marketing webinars, delivered as part of the Chamber’s free webinar programme, have been very popular so there’s clearly a real need for an affordable, quality marketing training in the East Midlands aimed at SMEs.” The programme will be delivered by Lindsey Newman-Wood, a highly-

experienced training and marketing consultant who has worked with a large number of organisations delivering training course and webinars. Lindsey said: “Delegates will learn all they need to manage their

organisation’s marketing in order to get results. “Once they have completed all six modules, they will be equipped to

plan their organisation’s marketing, better understand their customers and improve their experiences.” The marketing development programme will run every Wednesday from

4 November until 9 December between 9.30am and 12.30pm. Each place costs £1,050 plus VAT, with a 30% discount offer to Chamber members.

To discuss this programme in more detail, contact Vicki Thompson on 0333 320 0333 ext 2153 or email

There are many benefits to training online

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