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Navigating the Balance Between Virtual and Face-to-Face Training: Insights from the Training Room

I'd like to share some thoughts on a topic that has become incredibly relevant in recent times: virtual training. For over two decades, my team at Blue Beetle and I have been delivering face-to-face training to our corporate clients. We've always believed in the power of personal interaction, and the meaningful connections that can be formed in a physical training room.

However, the recent pandemic has challenged these beliefs and pushed us to explore new avenues. We've realised that virtual training can not only match but, in some cases, exceed the effectiveness of face-to-face sessions. This doesn't imply that traditional face-to-face training has lost its value. Instead, it's about recognizing the unique benefits and flexibility that online learning brings to the table.

Take for instance, our 'Executive Communications' training. Previously, it was a two-day face-to-face session involving roughly 16 hours of contact time. Now, we deliver much of the same content in 5 online sessions of 2 hours each, totalling 10 hours. Not only does this save on travel and accommodation costs, but it also seems to help learners retain and recall more information. It appears that delivering content in smaller sections helps avoid cognitive overload and facilitates better learning.

Of course, there's a common concern that virtual training might lack engagement, with participants potentially being less involved. But isn't that a risk in face-to-face sessions too? The key lies in the quality of content, its delivery, and the level of client support when the booking is put in place.

At Blue Beetle, we've adopted some strategies to make the most of virtual training. Here are a few key points that we believe can make a significant difference:

1. Preparation:We make sure to prepare the learners right from the invitation stage. We inform them about the interactive nature of the session and the expectation to keep their cameras on and participate actively.

2. Personal touch: To set the right tone, we try to let in learners a couple at a time, ensuring they have their cameras on. This helps in creating a positive trend for new learners arriving.

3. Interactive Sessions: Our trainers regularly use breakouts and activities requiring the learners to discuss and engage with the content.

4. Engaging Design: We design our sessions to involve learners, and avoid long, text-heavy slides that can be tiresome.

5. Platform Competency: Our trainers are adept at using platforms like Zoom or Teams to ensure a smooth and efficient learning experience for attendees.

The debate between virtual and face-to-face training isn't about choosing one over the other. It's about recognising the unique strengths of each, and leveraging them according to the specific needs and constraints of the situation. As we continue to explore and refine our approach to virtual training, we're excited about the opportunities it presents for efficient, flexible, and powerful learning experiences.

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