Virtual learning – is it worth it?

By May 20, 2020 Leadership

How many conference calls and catch ups do you have today? Life and work BC (before Covid) was, for most of us, characterised by the warm body experience. Now we live our working lives and quite a lot of our personal lives too, on screen.

This includes the way we develop as many of us now engage in online learning, accessing courses, modules and webinars in the virtual space. As you know, our business is learning and development and some of our work with clients was conducted online anyway – coaching and training people around the globe. Some of our work was – now it all is.

At the moment we don’t have much choice but, in the future, we will have. So, two and a bit months in we thought we’d look at the impact of virtual learning – the good, the bad and the ugly. This week we look at some of the positives of learning online in a group or with your team that we have discovered, and we why should all be doing it more.

Here are some thoughts on the benefits – 8 to be exact.

  1. It’s cheaper without the cost of travel, room hire and accommodation. You pay for expertise and expert facilitation, not all the add ons required by being in a shared space. This is great for virtual teams who wouldn’t meet otherwise.
  2. Teams can learn easily together. Team learning is so beneficial. We see it over and over again. There is something about hearing new concepts and exploring ideas together, that makes application to work (and therefore, time well spent) much easier.
  3. You are in control of your space. Provided you can stem the flow of visits from cats, dogs, small humans and Amazon deliveries, you are in a comfortable space that you have determined, you are ready for learning and without someone next to you with whom you feel you have to make polite conversation.
  4. You get back to the day job quicker. Online learning tends to be shorter, so you’re unlikely to be at it all day. This means you don’t feel so much pressure about what you’re missing and how your inbox is piling up. Once again, the short distance between your learning and your every day work makes application easier.
  5. People less likely to speak up are more likely to speak up. In the virtual space, those who don’t like to give their input to a group feel more inclined to do so. Listening is also better as people can’t really interrupt each other; you have to wait your turn.
  6. You have to give it your all. Seeing everyone on screen (and we encourage our learners to keep their videos on!) can feel a bit full on (we’ll look at that when we examine the cons next week) but it has its plusses. People pay better attention, work harder to be “in the room” and are mindful of distractions, because if you do send a quick text or email during online learning, it’s pretty obvious what you are doing and someone may call you out on it!
  7. Learning in this way requires an extra dose of self-discipline, self-motivation and listening. These are all vital work and life skills and getting the chance to develop them means two lots of learning for the price of one.
  8. It breaks up the day. Groups we are working with at the moment always tell us how much they look forward to these sessions. For some it is the first chance they get to connect with others, a break from the stress of the day and a chance to use their brain in a different way.
    No doubt there are other benefits that you are experiencing to add to our list. This is a time for learning. It feels like we’ve had to develop and acquire more skills and strategies in the last two months than we have in the last two years. Learning online can be a winner.
    It can also be a drain on time and energy but save yours for now – we’ll look at the downsides of developing the virtual space next week.