No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Journey into the world of virtual learning


Rachel Aitken looks at the technologies that are providing new, and more cost effective, opportunities for learning.

Numerous challenges are facing the learning and development industry today. The most significant of these at present is the increasing number of layoffs/redundancies. This means employers are now trying to get the most out of their existing employees. In fact, recent research has shown that 66% of organisations cited developing high performing teams as their primary HR challenge over the coming year.

Decreased training budgets are also having an effect, meaning that L&D managers must find cheaper methods of delivering high quality training to their staff. Another major consideration is finding a way to deliver training so as not to decrease employee productivity – days out of the office for training courses are less viable in the downturn.
The traditional training course involves employees often having to travel to take part in a course provided by either an internal or external trainer. This is costly (travel expenses, plus the cost of the employee’s time) and a logistical nightmare in terms of finding a time when all the employees are available.

Modern tools via the web have provided new opportunities for learning methods. Virtual training via Second Life for example. Employees can enter Second Life and be provided with an immersive training experience where skills are taught in a virtual environment.  Engaging as this may be, employees may be prone to distraction, and companies are still resistant to its use.


Other ways of learning via the web, whilst not providing an entire training environment, certainly complement virtual training methods. YouTube is an effective way of delivering training videos but does not provide a very interactive experience. Wikis and Facebook are also methods that can be used for sharing information between students. Both are effective right now.

Another area of opportunity for the learning and development industry is learning via conferencing. Web conferencing can be used to conduct training sessions via the Internet. Participants sit at their own computers to learn. Presentations and videos can be viewed by all, and audio interaction can be obtained through teleconferencing. In this way, there is complete interaction between participants and instructor. It means that employees need only take an hour or two out of their day to take part in a webinar, rather than losing valuable time through travel.

Video conferencing

Video conferencing can also be used to enhance learning and development. The high quality of video conferencing available now enables classrooms to be connected to each other, so employees have access to high quality trainers wherever they are, significantly broadening learning opportunities. Lessons can also be recorded and archived so they can be accessed at any time in the future.

Virtual learning is fast becoming the norm for numerous organisations, which use these technologies to enhance the learning opportunities for their employees, whilst at the same time using them to save costs. Cambridge Regional College installed video conferencing systems in their lecture theatres, in order to give their students access to European tutors. This enabled them to gain expert advice and tuition without incurring the expense of travel costs.

Now that increasing numbers of employees are working away from the office, plus organisations are trying their best to hold onto high quality staff, it is important to offer a training solution which is flexible without a drop in effectiveness.

When the recession ends and more opportunities open up for employees, it will be especially important for employers to offer the best training packages and virtual learning goes a long way to do that.

Rachel Aitken is global training manager for BT conferencing.

Related article: Free webinar: Flexible working - key points for success


No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!