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Jun 29, 2016 InSync Training

Enabling Virtual and Blended Learning Success

Virtual Learning and Blended Learning Success

BYTE session recap 

Jennifer Hofmann, President of InSync Training and Malte Bong-Schmidt, Virtual Learning Lead, Global Customer Operations & Strategy for SAP, recently spoke with BYTE session attendees about a virtual and blended learning initiative they worked on together. Malte gave an overview of challenges SAP faced when implementing the new program, lessons learned over the past few years, and SAP’s vision for the future of blended learning in his organization. Jennifer contributed her years of expertise and insight as Malte discussed SAP’s transition. 

This post will provide highlights from the session, including background on SAP and the evolution of their learning initiative. To review the presentation in its entirety, click here.

Who is SAP?

Starting as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) business decades ago, SAP pretty quickly transitioned into other solution areas through brand expansion.  A large part of SAP is called the Global Customer Operations & Strategy (GCO) group. This portion of the business includes supported sales roles, sales colleagues, specialty sales, etc.  This group is the target audience for the GCO University, and their mission is to focus on four areas: performance improvement, increased productivity, leadership support, and sales people development.

Virtual Learning Challenges

Quite often, content previously created for a face-to-face setting is not optimized for the virtual classroom. Technology barriers and learners distracted by multitasking prove especially challenging in the virtual learning environment. To be successful, virtual learning programs need to be truly interactive, have excellent facilitators, and have learners who are already prepared to learn online.  Malte explained that cost cutting measures and disengaged stakeholders were also obstacles the program needed to overcome. Realistically, you can’t convince your employees to actively participate if your managers and stakeholders are not behind the training. 

InSync and SAP identified seven major challenges they needed to overcome in order to effectively implement the virtual classroom. First, the content itself needed to be redesigned for the virtual learning environment. Second, the facilitators needed to be reskilled in order effectively teach virtually. Third, technology barriers needed to be identified and overcome. Fourth, language barriers had to be managed and overcome. Fifth, virtual learning as a concept needed to be redefined. Sixth, virtual learning’s value needed to be established. Finally, learners needed to be prepared for success. For more insight into each of these challenges, download our new complimentary infographic, 7 Actions to Manage & Overcome the Challenges of Implementing a Virtual Classroom Strategy.

Objectives of Virtual Learning

So why is SAP doing all of this?  The most obvious reason is cost of training. Surprisingly, the highest cost incurred is not the cost of training, but rather the loss of sales due to the salesforce being involved with learning instead of working. Virtual learning programs reduced the time employees spent in training, and decreased time off the job.

Additionally, SAP wanted to dramatically reduce their CO2 footprint, and virtual training provided an opportunity to do so.  SAP also wanted to join their training programs together via a blended learning curriculum paired with a MOOC.  That is their most advanced approach, taking a synchronous face-to-face workshop and a synchronous online training with other forms mixed in.

Future Environment at SAP

Malte praised the success of their new training initiative saying that the industry for virtual learning, blended learning, and MOOCs responds to the state of business today.  He foresees that technology barriers will decrease, and the amount of content sources and available formats will increase.  In a corporate learning function, he believes that we need to help the learners navigate through the content.  Around the world there are dozens of universities that have implemented MOOC programs next to the traditional programs.  At the career level of development this approach becomes a highly impactful way of learning.


To learn more about virtual and blended learning, we offer these additional complimentary resources for review:

Published by InSync Training June 29, 2016