Training Magazine Network Session Recap
Building successful virtual and blended learning initiatives require purposeful planning and implementation. We have been working with global organization SAP to support a redesign and redeployment of their training programs in order to make them more engaging, more successful, and more modern.
Our friends at Training Magazine Network generously hosted a live online presentation featuring InSync Training President Jennifer Hofmann, and Malte Bong-Schmidt, Virtual Learning Lead for SAP. Over the course of an hour, Jennifer and Malte reviewed their virtual and blended learning strategy, and how it impacted the organization.
This blog post will provide background information about learning today, the history of virtual learning at SAP, and participant input on how to manage common challenges associated with this type of learning implementations.
To review the full presentation, click here.
Learning and Learning Environments Today
The modern classroom has an almost infinite number of approaches to design engaging learning programs. From a blended and virtual training perspective, there are three models that were key to the SAP implementation:
- Virtual Instructor-Led (ViLT) or Virtual Live Classroom (VLC): instruction that is led by a facilitator in real time in an online classroom.
- Blended Learning: a combination of different learning technologies to achieve one overall training program.
- MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access. MOOCs utilize a blended approach to training.
Malte explained that when we look at our training environment today, we see different styles, situations and devices. People are on the road, people are at their desks, people are on different devices. That’s where the strength of ViLT comes in. Virtual learning can offer full collaboration, cross borders (both physical and metaphorical), and brings in best practices for sharing. eLearning can be reinforced and debriefed.
For example, SAP’s sales team is on the road with clients, and ViLT short chunk sessions come in when learners may need a refresher or skill reinforcement.
Ultimately, the modern learning environment, and modern learning in general, is what we make it. One of the things we need to do as a training organization, especially if we are going to embed ourselves in this modern learning environment, is to really understand the environment in which our learners are participating.
We need to take advantage of the environment, rather than fight it. Why? Because there’s no way we’re going to change what the learners are doing. We have to adapt to it.
ViLT History and Challenges at SAP
Organizations have a lot of different learning challenges. In the case of ViLT and blended learning, our major problem over the last couple of decades has been a lack of implementation strategy. Our stakeholders and learners don’t buy-in, and we don’t prove the value of what we’re doing. Too often, our programs are in danger of failing, regardless of how wonderful our design is.
Malte shared that SAP’s history with virtual learning was probably pretty similar to the experience of many organizations. There was an expectation in the business that we take some existing eLearning, or face-to-face programs, make some minor tweaks, and put it into the virtual classroom. That’s a recipe for failure.
For example, they had about twelve learners in one location who were participating in a ViLT program at a single desktop computer. There was no interaction whatsoever, because the learners didn’t even have their own devices.
SAP’s main challenges going into our virtual and blended learning implementation included:
- Content not designed for virtual learning
- Traditional facilitators’ learning curve
- Technology and language/cultural barriers
- Preparing for the webinar versus live virtual class differences
- Learners not used to virtual learning
- Virtual learning value perception
- Lacking stakeholder buy-in
- Multi-tasking and distractions
- Is this simply a cost-cutting measure?
Do these challenges sound familiar? They should, as they’re common to most virtual and blended implementations.
Participants in Jennifer and Malte’s session had the opportunity to share their expert advice for managing these challenges. Their recommendations were so insightful that our readers will likely benefit from reviewing them.
Challenge: Content is not designed for the virtual classroom
Challenge: Facilitator learning curve
Challenge: Technology barriers
Challenge: Cultural barriers
Challenge: Overcoming virtual learning's reputation
Challenge:Virtual learning value perception
Challenge: Preparing virtual learners
Remember: when you teach people how to learn in the modern virtual environment, you’re teaching them how to work in the modern workplace environment.
If you’re working on, or considering, implementing virtual and blended learning strategies in your organization, we have a number of complimentary resources to help you do so:
- Recording: Enabling Virtual and Blended Learning Success: An SAP Case Study
- Infographic: 7 Actions to Manage & Overcome the Challenges of Implementing Virtual Classroom Strategy
- Blog series: Managing Virtual Classroom Strategy Implementation Challenges