Webinar, e-learning, virtual training, virtual presentation, webcast, broadcast… Through Skype, Skype Broadcast, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live – just to mention the ones I have been using so far. Sooo many determinations. As I experienced, companies are confused. Attendees are confused. Trainers are confused. I am confused too, to be completely honest. We all are.
In the past several months – as meeting face to face haven’t been available – these online type of sessions have been ruling the training business completely. I know, I know, many of them existed previously as well, however as I saw it, they were not forming the mayor part of the segment. Now it has changed entirely.
Parallel to this, as in case of many rapid and sudden changes, things have mixed up. The online sessions we had so far evolved and maybe even transformed completely. We try to use our old vocabulary for the sessions, however they just create even more confusion.
We need a completely new vocabulary and determination. A what is what, exactly.
So far, I was using the Virtual Training expression, up until I noticed, that my way of delivering these sessions does not cover this at all. I also needed to re-think how to name what I do in this new world.
Thinking about this, I figured it might be useful for others as well. Maybe other trainers or companies looking for online sessions providers are unsure too, what they really want and how it is called these days.
Below, I tried to establish a common denomination for the different types of sessions, together with what they exactly cover.
I mean, what they mean for me. As I was doing my research on the internet I found many contradictory definitions – so basically they didn’t help me at all, just mixed me up even more 🙂
So, I decided, I will create my own terminology. As a whole, I will call them Online Sessions.
In my eyes and mind, as of today, the following types of Online Sessions can be distinguished in the Soft Skill Training Business:
1. Virtual Trainings
This is the most similar to the good old classroom trainings. Aiming a certain soft skill improvement, having around 15 participants, being interactive. Allows the participants to ask questions at any time, during the flow of the training, giving them exercises during the session.
A new thing here is that it cannot be as long as a normal classroom training. No way. Jut imagine. Sitting in front of your computer a whole day, participating a training is just impossible. Therefore, the content must be divided into shorter bits, with lots and lots of breaks. Even maybe the different sessions happening on different days. The participants’ attention is way more limited through the screen as in person, so the session needs to be accommodated to it.
I also heard that sometimes even the number of the participants is limited to a lower number, way below 10 people, so that the trainer can keep up with them one by one.
I believe that Virtual Trainings are a nice try to substitute the classroom trainings. In my honest opinion, they will never be able to do that in a hundred percent.
It is just like pouring a glass of water to a huge campfire. Better than nothing, but not enough, really.
However, as long as we are social distancing, this is something we can all use, for sure.
2. Virtual Soft Skill Talk
This name just came to my mind. What I mean with it is basically the already existing webinar type of session, but in the Soft Skill area. I call it Talk, as it is more like a speech or like the Ted Talks. Basically a presentation. But the important piece here, that it is about a soft skill topic.
In case of a Virtual Soft Skill Talk the trainer gives a presentation about a certain soft skill topic, sharing knowledge, best practices, etc. Number of participants is basically unlimited, can be a handful of people, tens, hundreds or thousands of them. Interactivity is limited therefore, to controlled Q&A tools, poll questions. The questions gathered in any tool during the session is mainly answered at the end. Its length is around 1 hour. Brief, straight to the point, mainly one-sided. Sometimes various presenters (a.k.a trainers) can deliver together, but compared to the Virtual Trainings, here there are no 2-way conversations with the participants.
However, exactly for this reason, it can be recorded and can be posted as an on-demand session for future views by other participants.
If anyone wants to get some useful info briefly, without quitting in the middle of a session due to not being able to concentrate, I guess this is the one.
Again, it does not substitute the 1-2 day long classroom trainings, but its aim is not that either. It is to share useful information, thoughts, techniques, hint and tips.
Based on my experience, this is the one that existed the most heavily even before the “change of times”, so to say. You go to a platform, choose your online learning topic, start it. Its length can vary, from 30-60 minutes to longer ones, where you receive one part of the e-learning material for example once a week, throughout months. In a corporate environment, they most often use the shorter sessions, however if you yourself register on an e-learning website you can find the longer e-courses as well.
All these sessions are pre-recorded, without audience. They can include slide shows, videos to watch, pod-cast type of recordings to listen, tests to fill out, poll questions to be answered, topic related games to play with, anything you can imagine.
This is the type of session, that is individual, initiated by the attendees themselves (while in the other sessions the initiation always come from the trainers), completely on an on-demand basis.
So far e-learnings have been used as an extra besides the classroom ones or substituting those learning necessities where the face to face presence was not required. Or, of course, where the attendees themselves wanted to learn something new, by their own initiative.
What I see happening in the training business these days, I found these above three sessions the most common forms of adult soft skill trainings. I am sure that as many trainers are out there, as many solutions, ways of working and sessions we can find.
New technologies, new solutions are invented now every day focusing on the virtual learning. I absolutely believe that even though once social distancing will be over, these will not stop at all. They will thrive, they will bring us – the trainers – even more flexibility, more options to use, more ways to reach out to our attendees.
Let’s see what the future holds and even in the meantime, let’s not forget, that under any circumstances, we can learn and improve – we just need to want it. ¤