January 21, 2021 / Bob Clarke, CDGP, and Roger Marks

Preparing Employees for Virtual Training Success

This post was sponsored by Lion Technology, Inc.

In the 1999 movie The Matrix, Neo, the movie’s hero, connects his brain to a computer so he can virtually “learn” some new skills for his mission.

When the “upload” is complete, Neo looks surprised and says, “I know kung fu…”

In the real world, online learning is a more active experience. Effective training requires input, concentration, and effort from the person taking it.

Today, professionals rely on online learning more than ever to get required environmental, hazardous materials, and safety training. Many safety professionals are trying online training for the first time, thanks to constraints imposed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

At the start of any in-person training, we ask ourselves questions like: Are there enough chairs? Is the lighting sufficient? Does the presentation screen work? Can everyone hear me in the back of the room?

Virtual learning is no different: a number of factors determine how effective and meaningful online training will be. To prepare students for success, EHS leaders must take a few key considerations into account.

Anticipate Technology Needs

Aging or outdated technology can negatively impact the effectiveness of training. A poor internet connection can cause online training to load slowly, halt your employees’ momentum, and cause video or audio playback difficulties that detract from the learning experience.

Cooperation with your IT staff can ensure all hardware or software needed is in place to deliver an effective remote training experience.

Training Atmosphere and Employee Attention

A faucet drips. A forklift beeps. Coworkers discuss their weekend plans over lunch. Unwanted noise like this distracts employees and makes it harder to retain information. Providing employees with a private, quiet area to train will greatly improve the employees’ ability to focus.

If workplace noise is unavoidable, managers should seek out online training equipped with closed captions. Employees in loud environments and those with hearing loss aren't the only workers who benefit from closed captions, which improve focus and information retention for all students.

The world is at our fingertips when we work on a connected computer. E-mail, messaging apps, and other distractions should be minimized during online training. Whenever possible, employees should be relieved of their normal responsibilities so they can focus on learning.

If employees are attending a training event while working from home, managers should ensure they have an adequate setup to comfortably complete training.

Ensure Access to Course Resources

The best remote learning, whether self-paced or presented by an instructor, offers more than a slideshow. Often, resources like workbooks, exercises, handouts, charts, tables, and checklists are provided digitally.

Employees should have these materials at their disposal throughout the course. This might mean distributing those materials before the employee begins training or allotting time to print materials before the course begins.

For those who can, utilizing a second computer monitor provides more space to spread out course materials without losing focus on the training.

Communication with Employees Before Training Begins

Lastly, before employees start training, managers should be open and honest about their expectations and how employees will be expected to apply their new knowledge.

A short conversation will help develop personal and professional buy-in, set a positive mental attitude, and prepare the student to focus on the must-know information.

For more tips to ensure a successful online training experience, check out the free report Four Must-Have Features for Effective e-Learning (PDF).

Bob Clarke, CDGP, and Roger Marks

Roger Marks is a content writer with Lion Technology Inc.

Bob Clarke, CDGP, is an instructor for Lion’s virtual and in-person hazardous materials and hazardous waste training.

Lion Technology is a leading provider of remote and in-person training to simplify environmental, safety, and hazardous materials compliance. Try the playable demo or view a video guide to Lion’s online training is available at Lion.com/Demo.


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