The success of your remote training depends not only on your content but also on the efficacy of your content delivery. There are benefits and limitations to each remote training delivery system, so it’s imperative to understand your training goals as well as your employees’ preferences and learning methods in order to choose the most effective remote training delivery for your organization.
Synchronous (Webinars, Live Chat)
- Face-to-face interactions allow for real-time collaborative learning
- Direct connection/communication with subject matter expert
- Differing schedules make training sessions difficult to organize
- High cost for each session
- Lack of knowledge reinforcement after initial training
- Hard to track
Synchronous learning resembles the traditional classroom model where a teacher or instructor presents learning material to a group of students in real-time. Remotely, this occurs via online video conferencing—often referred to as a webinar.
Since remote synchronous training most closely resembles traditional training sessions, it’s an attractive delivery option for a lot of companies. It requires less initial setup and planning and is mostly effective when training doesn’t require complex learning or continued development.
However, synchronous delivery is the least effective training method, and the costs are much higher in the long run—speaker fees and accommodations add up quickly. Often, multiple training sessions are required to ensure everyone attends, and additional training sessions are needed for new employees and those who need extra help. These are difficult to organize around everyone’s schedule (including the instructor), and learners are required to take time off of work to attend. Learners also report much lower motivation and engagement when trained via webinars.
So while remote synchronous training has its benefits, it’s hardly the most successful or cost-effective method.
Asynchronous (eLearning, mobile learning)
- Asynchronous nature allows learners to interact with content when and where they choose
- Supports multiple learning styles
- Content is reviewable for continued development
- Easy to track training outcomes
- Lack of live communication
- Difficult to make edits
- Lack of mobility
eLearning is a popular form of asynchronous learning, which occurs individually, as instructors prepare materials and present them online for learners to interact with on their own. It is considered a more formal, structured form of asynchronous learning, organized like an online classroom with an instructor, set lessons, and assessments. eLearning is commonly associated with desktop and laptop computers and focuses on deeper retention of a particular set of skills or knowledge, with lessons typically ranging from 20-30 minutes to several hours.
eLearning offers significant advantages over webinars. Its flexibility offers learners more options for when and where they consume their training and supports multiple content-types to align with differing learning preferences. This leads to higher motivation and engagement with the content, which leads to better knowledge retention as a result.
eLearning is most effective for memorization and training on complex skill sets. But since lessons are longer and more in-depth, it can be extremely difficult to organize and create—not to mention expensive. And while eLearning increases motivation and engagement from synchronous learning, training still requires significant effort and a burdensome time commitment.
eLearning is an effective remote-training delivery method that provides significant value and works well if your audience requires deep dives into complex ideas. However, its effort and expenses make it a less attractive option for most remote training needs.
- Mobile nature allows training from anywhere at any time (stolen moments)
- Just-in-time training reinforces skills acquisition and boosts confidence
- Content is always available for continued development
- Easy to track outcomes
- Able to be updated instantly
- Screen size limits effective content-types
- Less effective for deep dives into complex knowledge
Mobile learning is less structured and formal, offering resources that are on-demand or “just in time.” It is commonly associated with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and focuses less on memorization and more on performance, with lessons typically ranging from 2-10 minutes.
See also: How to Create Great Microlearning Content
Mobile learning has proven training advantages to both webinars and eLearning, resulting in even higher employee engagement and motivation, better skills acquisition, and greater mobility and learner flexibility. Since information is always available, learners are able to quickly access key data and review relevant information about a task to improve their productivity and make better-informed decisions in real-time. It also boosts the confidence of the learner, who knows the information is always a click away and can confirm their understanding prior to execution. This just-in-time training helps turn knowledge into action by transitioning training into doing, building skillsets in conjunction with knowledge to better reinforce understanding and combat the forgetting curve.
Mobile learning is most effective for task- or skill-oriented training, focusing on singular outcomes (e.g., “How to [insert skill]”; “When to use [Product A vs. Product B]”). Although content is somewhat limited due to the nature of the medium (small screens, limited bandwidth) and requires more instructional design work at the outset, mobile learning is a much cheaper option that offers the most flexibility and benefit when done correctly.
- Able to utilize the benefits of multiple training types to optimize outcomes.
- Accommodates diverse audiences with mix of training delivery options.
- Requires extensive planning, organizing, and effort.
- Very expensive to synthesize without the right tools
- Requires audience to download/learn/use multiple different systems
Blended learning is any combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. Since blended learning encompasses multiple delivery mediums, its flexibility offers learners more options to interact with content in their preferred learning style. With a blended approach, organizations can utilize the specific benefits of each delivery medium to optimize training outcomes and maximize value. That said, blended remote training requires significant planning and cost to successfully implement.
It’s never been more important to move your training remote, and one of the most important decisions in that process is the remote-training delivery method. So make sure you talk to your employees, evaluate your training content and goals, and choose the right training delivery method to reach your audience and maximize your value.