In many ways, virtual classrooms can be similar to traditional ones since the goal of both is the same – for course participants to develop knowledge in a subject area. But unlike a traditional classroom, virtual training is a lot more dynamic, effective, efficient and flexible. Let us look at how they differ and how virtual training can be way superior when it comes to corporate upskilling.
Traditional classroom: The schedule is pre-decided and fixed. Teachers and course participants have little power to take decisions to extend and change this. The next batch is sometimes waiting to use the classrooms and usually such fixed resources are tough to extend.
Virtual Environment: The schedule can be made flexible, as per the needs of both the course participants and the teacher. The association between the instructor and the course participants are extended beyond the regular class timings via emails and other channels.
Traditional Classroom: The groups of course participants can be homogeneous, cutting across social circles and customs. They generally fall within the similar profession, age group or academic background.
Virtual Environment: The peer groups can be heterogeneous in nature, with global connections cutting across non-intersecting customs and social circles. The composition of students may vary greatly in terms of profession, age and academic backgrounds. This helps broaden the perspective of the learners.
Method of course delivery:
Traditional Classroom: Classes are typically teacher-centric. There can be disciplinary issues with immature students which can be difficult for the instructors sometimes. Teaching tools used are conventional and have their limitations.
Virtual Environment: Classes are student-centric and technology driven. The teachers are basically mentors. Online tools like Learning Management Systems that have multiple features are used. The power packed Learning Management Systems allow for learners and mentors to connect real time, interact, check schedules, upload assignments, check progress, access course material in multiple formats etc. Mentors have better teaching tools to engage learners effectively. Virtual classrooms give the mentor better opportunity to experiment, create, explore and steer the class. This improves student performance. Moderating tools allow the teachers to control the class easily. Learning environment can be both fun and simulating with the tools and unconventional teaching methods.
Traditional Classroom: The collaboration between learners and trainer takes place in a physical classroom. Since the teaching is at a standard pace, it is difficult to address the needs of the different levels of learners in a single class. There is a lack of additional resources available for different kinds of students – the scholarly, nerdy ones or the slow learners. It’s usually one-size fits all kind of course delivery. Travel constrains limit the feasibility of bringing in guest lecturers. Cross learning between subjects can be tough.
Virtual Environment: The channel for collaboration is online – video, chat or audio. It is easier to find similar paced peers breaking across physical barriers to collaborate and work together while the mentor/teacher/facilitator can moderate and facilitate. It is easier to involve guest lecturers from any part of the world. Thanks to lack of constraints, it is easier to teach and learn inter-disciplinary and complementary skills.
Traditional Classroom: Evaluation here would mean manually correcting and handling tests and assignments that are time consuming, less transparent and slower.
Virtual Environment: Some portions of the evaluation are automated and are conducted via online tests. The results are transparent, instantaneous and accurate.
Traditional Classroom: When the classes are done, it’s done, there is no way you can re-attend a class if you have missed something.
Virtual Environment: Classes are recorded and uploaded in the Learning Management System – this allows the students to go back for references, re-attend any part of the class they missed or even attend the entire class, as and when they please. They can view the exact explanations and instructions from the trainers thanks to this feature.
Traditional Classroom: The distractions include breaks, administrative details or student interruptions.
Virtual Environment: The distractions of traditional classrooms can be averted but some distractions like internet connectivity issues need to be dealt with.
Traditional Classroom: Setting up of infrastructure, arranging transport for your workforce and instructors, availability of industry experts for the entire duration at the course venue make specialized technical courses very expensive bearing hugely on the course participants.
Virtual Environment: TBT (Technology Based Training) is known to save about 80% of the cost of traditional classroom courses! The facilitator and the course participants are expected to have just a computer system, basic internet connectivity and head phones. Everyone involved in the course saves on travel and can learn from just about anywhere. This adds to the 45% of time saving that online courses bring.
From the points discussed above, it is clear that a virtual environment is most suitable from corporate learning given that course participants are all mostly working professionals. The flexibility virtual learning gives, adds greatly to their comfort and needs. Companies across the world are innovating digital learning methods to train their employees in inspiring ways to help them cope with technological shifts within the organization, carry out new job roles, to help them upskill and to make them more productive. For more details on how IIHT has helped over 200 companies do it for over 20 years, go to els.iiht.com