“We’re not going back to normal; we are pushing towards a new normal. One in which everyone might flourish.” Ekemini Uwan

Why remote learning has taken off

The simple answer, of course, is that Covid-19 has meant we’ve had to. Even if we aren’t doing a lot of taking-off ourselves this summer, remote learning has certainly taken off – in a big way. By 2022, the global e-Learning market is predicted to reach $243 billion. Research indicates 60% better retention and recall of information from e-Learning, since students can go at their own pace and refresh skills using archived e-guides or webinars. It is hard not to be impressed.

Anecdotally, Dale Peters, Managing Director of Bright Affect can back these eye-catchy statistics up: “Since lockdown, we have run all the F-2-F training programmes previously scheduled as virtual live webinars, and the feedback has been universally positive.”

Making a significant saving

The cost of flying a regional or multinational workforce to a single location for 2 days, providing accommodation, meals and losing all those workdays was astronomical. At the moment, with air travel a logistical minefield, moving to a remote learning model makes clear business sense.

IBM for example saved $200 million by switching to remote learning.

Plus, reducing air travel is undeniably better for the planet – the Open University found that eLearning uses 90% less energy and creates 85% less carbon emissions per student than traditional Face-2-Face, or F-2-F.

Keeping people remotely interested

But beware of simply replicating everything you would do in a F-2-F session in your live webinar. Live online learning is a more intense experience than being in a classroom and 2 days online starting at 9 and finishing at 5 will bring everybody – trainer and trainee alike – to their knees.

Yet we’re all increasingly used to working remotely. So, as long as you structure your training in such a way that you don’t kill people with too much continuous screen time, much of the engagement is just as good.

Zoom users will be familiar with break-out rooms, which allow smaller working groups and are more conducive to the sharing and cross-fertilisation of ideas, and more open conversation, than the main group. You can work on a particular topic, re-join the main group and present back. Utilising digital annotation tools, digital whiteboards and screen sharing capabilities make it far clearer for students to focus on key information on the screen. No more squinting at a flipchart or out of focus screen from the back of a classroom!

You can build in polling to ask questions during training, which embeds the new knowledge. It’s also a good litmus test for the instructor to gauge how much people are actually taking in. Digital tools such as Kahoot, the online quiz tool, mix things up and make sessions far more interactive.

And – build in regular breaks and time for people to live message.

Even if you’re remote, you’re not alone.

Running regular live remote learning sessions has another positive benefit for remote workers. Feeling isolated and missing those spontaneous chats with colleagues is one of the most common complaints about remote working. Virtual training sessions can fill this void, and a balanced session with active engagement, breakout times, Q&As and regular breaks will help employees feel less ‘cut off’.

Taking learning to people, not taking people to learning is the new normal

There’s still some attachment to the idea that training is better if everybody is in the room together, and there are definite advantages.

There are some things that you just can’t replace with remote learning: the buzz in the bar, the spontaneous conversations that bubble up between people during coffee breaks. You learn from each other, and it’s easier to have a conversation and share ideas. But it’s by no means impossible to find virtual ways to recreate that too.

Looking at multiple faces on-screen feels more natural now, we just don’t feel as self-conscious on camera as we once did.

It’s part of our new normal.