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  January 1, 1970

The Must-Have Technology for Remote & Onsite Trainers in 2021

While the move toward remote workforce training and learning and development (L&D) functions isn’t new, the pandemic drastically accelerated the shift with nearly 85% of L&D functions moving from in-person to virtual. Even before COVID-19, companies were already planning to spend far less on instructor-led training (down 38%), while investing more in online learning (up 57%).

Blended learning offers the best of both worlds: e-learning technology to streamline training management and make learning more accessible, along with in-person instruction for skill development. It’s the ideal scenario for learners who retain information better within an instructor-led setting, and for administrators looking to improve efficiency and economy. In fact, a full one-third of large companies and one-fourth of SMBs already rely on blended learning methods.

Until recently, most learning technologies were created for “either-or”—either fully digitized online learning or traditional face-to-face classroom settings—making management of the hybrid environment cumbersome and lacking integration. These siloed systems make it nearly impossible to maintain accurate and auditable records, not to mention managing two systems is extremely inefficient and time consuming—a significant problem when lack of staff resources is the most common reason for insufficient L&D activities.

Fortunately, many online and mobile tools have come on the market in just the last 24 months, helping administrators better manage in-person instructor-led courses, blended training programs, and e-learning. Here are seven noteworthy technologies that can help instructors and training consultants streamline processes, improve records management and reduce compliance risk, while making the learner’s and administrator’s experience easier.

7 Tech Tools for Blended Learning and Workforce Training 

1. Training Marketing Management

Over half of employees say they would spend more time learning if they had specific course recommendations delivered to them, suggesting that many don’t participate because they just aren’t aware of what they need or what’s available. Meanwhile, L&D professionals say they spend 16% of their time promoting learning programs to employees. Clearly, there’s a gap in reaching learners despite training administrators working hard to get the word out.

Newer online tools allow administrators delivering hybrid programs to create, promote, and manage online and in-person training events all in one place. These platforms allow blended learning instructors, executive coaches, and training consultants to create and send promotional emails and invitations for upcoming events, courses and sessions, and use mobile digital features to verify in-person attendance and completion.

2. Automated Course Authoring Tools

L&D professionals spend nearly a third of their time building and sourcing content. Anything that streamlines the process but still ensures quality, appropriate, and relevant content can make trainers significantly more efficient.

To streamline course creation, automated course authoring solutions enable content developers to assemble programs from pre-built curriculum modules. Administrators can choose from relevant topics and course material to create new programs and update existing curricula quickly—an especially important feature for health & safety training and HR compliance programs. This accelerates time to delivery by eliminating time-consuming manual content development.

3. Online Video Libraries

More than half of training professionals say their organization covers eleven or more different topics or disciplines, which means maintaining such a broad and diverse selection of content can be extremely difficult, especially as video has become such a huge component in hybrid training programs. The production time involved can slow time to market such that, in some cases, it might be outdated by the time it’s completed (for example, COVID-19 compliance or state required sexual harassment training).

Leveraging online video libraries allows hybrid training administrators to deliver the latest content to learners without the burden and time of production. In blended learning environments, that means learners can access background content at their convenience and come to hands-on events having already completed prerequisite instruction, or trainers can incorporate video content into face-to-face events. These platforms not only make content more accessible, but the best also offer user-friendly dashboards for trainers to track and verify trainee participation, and even gain per module engagement analytics for e-learners. This data can be integrated directly into learning management systems to ensure up-to-date records on all trainees across every delivery method.

4. Responsive Design

In many offline training situations, instructors must wait until they are back in the office to update records in a spreadsheet or on-premises system, and there’s no way to verify compliance records on the shop floor if there is an immediate issue.

But as the world has gone mobile, so too have training tools, making them perfectly suited for blended learning. Responsive design—which refers to a platform’s ability to display and function properly across a mobile phone, tablet or laptop—enables trainers to manage and deliver training, document attendance and verify certifications from the office, home or a plant floor. The newest tools offer stand-alone apps for use even with an LMS. This not only makes blended learning management simpler, but also reduces the risk of errors in documentation by providing real-time capabilities on any device.

5. Digital Signature Capture

Verifying training attendance and participation is a huge part of maintaining compliance. But using paper to manually capture in-person training signatures is cumbersome. Not only does it run the risk of getting lost, there’s also privacy and storage to consider, not-to-mention it’s just antiquated, and the low-tech appearance can detract from perceived training quality.

Instead, blended learning instructors can easily capture attendees’ e-signatures on a phone or tablet at in-person training to verify attendance. While many LMS and training management platforms offer this capability, it can easily be added as a stand-alone tool. Adopting this simple yet powerful capability eliminates the hassle of paper, creates a digital/auditable trail for compliance, and streamlines trainee management and trainer processes.

6. Real-Time Compliance Tracking

Blended learning can make it difficult to maintain and access current, accurate compliance certifications across multiple offices and departments. Using an automated compliance tracking system dramatically lowers compliance risk. These tools can generate automated alerts about who needs to be re-certified and when, so that training can be offered and completed proactively, and no one falls through the cracks. To keep data current, these platforms can integrate with online learning and face-to-face attendance management systems to ensure timely, accurate data, and automatically send proof of completion to appropriate managers.   

7. Learner Analytics—Blended Style

Among the top strategic priorities for 2020 for L&D professionals, evaluating the impact of learning (38%) and increasing learner engagement (35%) rank first and second. Certainly, measuring the efficacy of blended learning is crucial for ensuring training is retained and applied on the job, but blending the offline and online methodologies can be challenging. Administrators often do not have the resources to collate data, analyze it, and draw actionable insights.

Using digital tools to measure engagement for both online and face-to-face training can help you understand what works and what doesn’t. For online learning, tools that automatically measure the time spent on specific topics or components can help identify curriculum weaknesses and lack of engagement. For in-person learning, following up with online quizzes can help training administrators gauge the impact and retention of learning, and make adjustments as necessary. Digital integration allows results to be analyzed together, providing administrators with a much clearer picture of training efficacy and business impact.

The expanding role of cloud technology is making state-of-the-art tools more accessible for all fields and all types of learning environments, including face-to-face and blended learning. Many are modular, flexible and able to grow with you as program needs dictate. There is usually no need to dump the digital tools you’re currently using—most cloud platforms accept API integrations that can expand capabilities while providing seamless, easy to use workflows.

Bringing digital tools into the face-to-face and blended training environment accelerates efficiency, improves the learner experience, and lowers compliance risk—while still maintaining that personal touch.

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Matt Cross is a Learning & Development Consultant with Training Network, a leading distributor of Safety and Human Resource training designed for consistent delivery, increased retention and efficient administration. Matt has over 15 years of hands-on experience in facilitating employee training and implementing eLearning solutions. Training Network’s programs cover safety, OSHA compliance, HR management, and industry specific content which can be integrated into the client’s learning system or through Training Network’s Trainery LMS technology. Matt is committed to helping Employee-Centric organizations of all sizes discover the most practical training solution to deliver impactful lessons through the most effective delivery method. Email Matt.

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