Lots of us are working from home during the lockdown. It is obvious now that even after it lifted, life won’t be normal – at least for quite a while. We try to predict what working life will look like, so that we can stay ahead of the game and restructure accordingly if needed.
Let’s look at training. We suddenly realise that we can work from home, and few of us would like to continue – if not the whole week, then perhaps 2 – 3 days. And so the question is – can we move training on-line as well? Would that be cheaper? Would that be more effective?
We now gathered quite a bit of experience in this area, as we have conducted Excel, VBA and Power BI training on-line during the lockdown. And our experience shows that on-line training cannot replace the face-to-face one. Perhaps soft skill training can be done on-line: if the coaching requires a lot of discussions, sessions via Teams, Zoom or other apps seems to work. But technical hands on training is a very different story.
Here are some pitfalls of training via web.
“Reading” progress by watching people
When you teach for example Microsoft Power BI, you’d like to be there – with the group. While I explain concepts such as Data Modelling, DAX, Power Query – I can “read” the delegate’s expressions, I can clearly see if they understand my explanation. If I see that people struggling with understanding, I can slow down or even explain again. Or if the group is a faster learning one – I can adjust the pace accordingly. With on-line training it is much harder to pick those signs.
Helping with exercises
Technical hands on training requires the delegates to complete some exercises. As I ask them to complete those I go around the room and assess how they are doing. Quite a lot of people are reluctant to ask questions or admit that they have a problem in front of others. As I go around the class – I can pick those who struggle and assist them. While giving an extra work to those who are faster. In the on-line training it is much harder. I cannot check on everyone – some people would be hesitant to share their screen, especially if they need help.
Fatigue from watching the screen
Another issue is a fatigue from watching the screen all day. Take for instance a Power BI training course. In a classroom training delegate’s attention is shifted constantly: from a trainer to a large screen, to their own laptops. The variety of learning methods is much greater. The trainer may explain a theory first using various means – screen, discussion, flipchart. Then the trainer may run an example on large screen, asking the delegates to complete an exercise on their own. Another time the trainer may step through the exercise with the delegates – guiding them and doing the same exercise step by step via projector. There is also a real human interaction going on. In the web training scenario however, the delegates are working at their screen all day – they either watching the trainer’s presentation (shared screen) or doing an exercise – still on their own screen. This is tiring and it is much harder to keep concentration required for learning. I find that concentration drops much faster when the courses are conducted via web applications.
The next question is – why do you do the training via web? During the lockdown the answer is obvious – we can’t do it any other way. But what happens in the future? If your employees come to the office anyway, then why not to organise classroom training for a group of colleagues in one of the meeting rooms? If in the future we start work from home (at least partially) then the temptation may be to organise web training. But the question is – would your employees have the right environment at home? Well – that question applies not only to training, but working from home altogether. Do your employees have a separate room for working/training? Do they have little children, who will interrupt them? Do young employees share accommodation?
What’s the future then?
Despite an excitement about advantages of working and learning from home, certain type of training is still better done face-to-face. But there is an area of training which I have discovered would be a perfect candidate for the web training. This is IT Surgeries (or Floor Walking as some people call them).
A lot of people either do not need training or do not have time for a full day training. But they may have an ongoing issue with Excel, or Word, or Power BI. Something that they know should be easy to do, and yet – they can’t figure out how to do it. They don’t want to go for a full day training – they just want to solve this specific issue. This is where an “IT Surgery” comes in. Usually, a company invites an expert trainer, sets up a meeting room, and employees can come there with their files, and the “doctor” would cure it. For a company – this is an efficient cost effective solution. Instead of sending people away for a full day to learn theory, IT Surgery allows to focus on specifics for individuals.
This type of training/consultancy is a perfect candidate for a web session. This what we have tried during the lockdown and it works perfectly. We organised quite a lot of short sessions to solve people specific problems within Microsoft applications such as Power BI, Excel, VBA, Word and others.
Though we do not think that face-to-face classroom training will disappear after the lockdown is lifted, some training can certainly move on-line. And one of the examples of the beneficial on-line training – IT Surgery.
XL Intelligence is a company that provides training courses and consultancy services. Though we work with entire Microsoft suite, but we specialise in Power BI, Excel and VBA. We teach you the fundamental skills you need to understand those applications right through to advance concepts and coding.
If you’d like to discuss and training needs, please get in touch with XL Intelligence today.