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6 Reasons Why Virtual Hands-On Learning is Here to Stay

The shift to virtual training is gaining pace – and not just because of the pandemic. The ability to deliver hands-on learning to anyone, anywhere, at cloud scale has broad business benefits, as we explore below.

The training industry is huge. More than $300 billion is spent globally on corporate training and education each year – with employees embarking on everything from tech training to honing their soft skills in the quest to climb another rung on the ladder. While the volume of training has remained relatively steady year-on-year, training formats are changing fast as organizations take a sharp turn away from face-to-face delivery and focus more on virtual learning.

Even before the pandemic, classroom-based instructor-led training (ILT) was being overtaken by virtual training. A LinkedIn Learning Report, published in February 2020, found that 57% of L&D professionals were planning to increase spend on online learning in 2020, compared to just 28% who expected to increase spend on ILT. Other research has found that, after COVID-19, organizations plan to spend just 22% on face-to-face ILT (compared to 41% before) – with virtual ILT and e-learning taking the lion’s share of budget in a post-pandemic world.

While COVID-19 certainly accelerated the shift to virtual training, it was going to happen anyway. Virtual hands-on learning has some pretty neat advantages over traditional face-to-face instruction – organizations are choosing to make the switch not just out of necessity, but to tap into a range of business benefits. Let’s take a look at six great reasons why virtual hands-on learning is being given an A+ by organizations across the globe.

1. It supports the hybrid future of work

Today’s organizations are shifting towards hybrid work models, where employees have the opportunity to work remotely some or all of the time. Here at VMware, for example, we’re committing to a hybrid work approach for our 33,000 employees into the future. Beyond our own business, more than 80% of employers believe their teams will spend at least one quarter of their time working from home in the future.

In this hybrid environment, every employee needs access to training – no matter where they work. It goes without saying that face-to-face training programs are no longer enough. Like the hybrid work model we’re moving to, training must become hybrid, too.

VMware Learning Platform has emerged as the ideal platform for delivering training, giving organizations new flexibility in terms of when, where and how training is delivered. Instructors can easily switch between delivering classes in a real classroom environment and going virtual across the globe.

2. It delivers highly scalable, yet interactive training

AI and automation are reshaping the workforce. The World Economic Forum estimates that 50% of employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. With this in mind – and regardless of whether employees are working remotely or at the office – organizations need the ability to ramp up training at a moment’s notice to upskill or reskill their workers in response to changing conditions.

But not just any old online training will do. As we’ve explored before, experiential learning is the way forward in online settings. In fact, 90% of learners will remember course material in an experiential setting, compared to just 5% in traditional learning. Virtual learning platforms that offer features like virtualization, augmented reality and hands-on labs are ideal. Particularly those that can be easily distributed at scale, anywhere in the world, so that employees can access the training they need, when it suits them.

3. It keeps organizations abreast of fast-changing cybersecurity developments

An unwanted effect of our digitally distributed workforce is a big rise in cybercrime. Dire predictions of trillion-dollar damages in 2021 abound. No wonder cybersecurity is one of the top online learning trends on organizations’ radars right now.

Given the incredible pace at which cybercriminals work, organizations could never keep up with the latest cybersecurity developments via classroom training. The logistics of getting everyone into the classroom on a regular basis to catch up on new content, let alone continually updating the training materials, would be too hard. Instead, organizations need fast, easy access to out-of-the-box training that includes the latest content, such as the VMware Cyber Readiness program.

4. It uses data to boost engagement

A common issue with workplace training is that participants don’t absorb and retain the content effectively. This was particularly true last year, when workers’ attention was being diverted by other big issues – attention spans were shorter, and engagement lower. Taking training to the cloud enables you to tap into powerful analytics and AI capabilities, to continually monitor and hone the efficacy of programs.

What’s more, a solution like VMware Learning Platform delivers instant, automated feedback on a participant’s performance. This ongoing feedback hones the learners’ awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. As they put their new skills to the test, they can adjust their behavior based on the real-time feedback to get better results and ultimately retain more of the training content.

5. It supports diversity and inclusion goals

Virtual learning aligns well with the diversity and inclusion goals that matter to many organizations. When hands-on learning goes virtual, more people can participate – such as those with young families who may want to complete the course at night, those who work remotely, or those with different abilities.

When training is delivered virtually, all participants need is a device with a modern HTML5 browser. What’s more, they can personalize training programs to meet their specific goals, and can rewind, replay and revisit core components at their own pace. A powerful virtual lab like VMware Learning Platform supports complex multi-VM configurations and almost all guest operating systems, making training accessible to all.

6. It helps you get more from technology investments

The pandemic prompted an exponential, accelerated uptake in cloud-based technology platforms – from collaboration tools to productivity suites. And the biggest transformations may prove the stickiest. For example, in organizations that increased the migration of assets to cloud, 54% believe the change will stick beyond the recovery.

Organizations that spent 2020 ramping up their investment in cloud-based tools and technologies now want to get their money’s worth. What does this mean from a training perspective? Having equipped a remote workforce with laptops and devices to get work done from anywhere, it makes sense to deliver training programs to these devices – instead of having to pay for classrooms or labs to run the training. With VMware Learning Platform, you get the added bonus of building cloud-scale IT labs without the hassle and cost of managing complex infrastructure.

Want to get on board with virtual hands-on learning?

A great place to start is by exploring the possibilities of VMware Learning Platform. With VMware Learning Platform, you can set up one lab for experimental, experiential learning – or scale to thousands of labs in an instant – so your participants can access hands-on labs and instructor-led training from wherever they are.

Watch the overview video and browse the resources to see how it could transform the delivery of training programs in your organization. Or, if you want to try it for yourself, request a personalized demo today.