The Honest Truth about Online Training

I’m sure you’d agree that there are a lot of things that are easier to do online than physically going to a place and doing them. You’re not stupid. And still – Online Training often makes people react with a slightly grumpy things-were-better-when-I-was-a-kid kind of attitude. Even young people! Why is that?

Here’s the thing: things change! Good online training today is very different from what online training was a decade (or two) ago, and I constantly meet people whose internal image of online training is severely outdated.

Hi! My name is Martin, I work as a teacher and producer of live streamed and recorded training, and today I’ll tell you the answers to all the questions you have about online training but never get to ask:

  •        Is it as boring as I believe it is?
  •        But isn’t face-to-face training always best?
  •        What if I want to ask the teacher something?
  •        So should I choose live or recorded online training?
  •        How long are your online courses?
  •        Do you really learn things in online classes?
  •        Will my employees really take the training?
  •        What if I want the training in another language?
  •        What does it cost?

Ok, here we go.

Is it as boring as I believe it is?

Ok, I won’t lie to you: it can be. But then again, so can any training, online or not. There are two main reasons why online training can be not-quite-but-almost-suicidally depressing. One: the producers have not moved with the times and still make the digital sleeping pills you may have come in contact with during the recent two decades (PowerPoint bullets and a disembodied voice). Two: the teacher is just not a good teacher!

While we at Apis IP-Solutions believe we have super-fun teachers, that is really part of all our training, both classroom and online. The reason our online training is fun and engaging is that our recording studio allows the teacher to use all the tricks of the trade he or she is accustomed to using in the classroom, and more. The teacher can use his full body language, point with his hands (or feet) at all his presentation material, show Powerpoint or web pages or anything else you can put on a laptop screen, draw pictures with normal pens and paper, and have fun! He can address you directly, looking you in the eyes at all times, which is more than you can say of a teacher in a classroom. You as a student have the best seat, and so does everyone else!

My best tip to address this question is simply: give it a try! What have you got to lose?

Show me the Virtual Classroom Training

Show me the Recorded Training

But isn’t face-to-face training always best?

It can be, but that depends on the kind of training we’re talking about. Some training has intricate roleplaying games which certainly depends on sitting across the table from other participants. Most of our training in the telecom/datacom area really doesn’t.

So while with online training you don’t get to sit in a whole room full of other people – you also get to not sit in a whole room full of other people! Many of our customers appreciate that they can join the training whenever and wherever they want to. At their office, or from their home, with their feet up on the table (or dog) and with their favourite coffee mug (and coffee!) in their hand.

You can also take a little nap. Yes, I said it! I’m a teacher, and I have seen thousands of students over the years in the front row, desperately trying to keep the eyelids from slamming shut. I don’t take it as an offense at all; sometimes people are just tired (especially people with small kids!), and I promise you that these persons would get much more out of the training if they just stepped out of the classroom for 10 minutes, had an apple, closed their eyes, and then came back. But no one ever does, because that’s not how you behave in a classroom! But you should, and that’s how you can behave in the online “classroom”.

What if I want to ask the teacher something?

Online training can be both recorded and live. And with recorded training, you guessed it: you can’t ask the teacher questions. Well, you can, but he won’t answer and you’ll look silly. With live online training, though, you can ask questions and no one looks silly. With live online classes, we use the exact same studio we use to record training, with all the fancy presentation methods the teachers can use, and then just stream it out for all the world to see. We often stream to students in several countries at the same time. We refer to this kind of live online training as a “virtual classroom”.

When you participate in live training, it’s possible for us to activate audio in both directions, but we have found – perhaps a little surprisingly – that a combination of audio and text chat works best. It’s audio from the teacher, and then text chat from all participants. That means all participants can clearly see the question that was asked (no mumbling students in the front row that you don’t hear), and even if you took a micro-nap, you can still look in the chat box and see what question the teacher is answering. It’s also the case, when it comes to world-spanning training, that most of our customers are better at writing English than speaking it, so it really brings a new level of clarity to all classroom conversations. I have colleagues who claim they have never had so much discussion in a classroom as they do in the online “virtual” classroom.

We also have cool live polling software to spice up the training, but we can show you more of that if we get the chance to meet.

So should I choose live or recorded online training?

Both! At least, you can. The addition of online training is just that: an addition. It doesn’t take any options away from you. We don’t see classroom training completely disappearing – it’s just complemented with more tools in our tool box. And as with any toolbox: you don’t have to choose just one tool!

You can devise a training course (or we’ll help you) that mixes multiple modes of learning. Recorded is the most scalable and easy-to-deploy, but live training (even in a classroom) might be needed for some crucial parts. So mix!

You can have a short live intro, with the teacher saying hello to the group and explaining how the training will work, while also taking all kinds of introductory questions. Then a longer period can ensue, with several modules of recorded training, which is then followed by a final – live – summary (virtual or classroom) to make sure no questions are left unanswered.

Show me the Virtual Classroom Training

Show me the Recorded Training

How long are your online courses?

Classically, training companies work with a number-of-course-days metric which we feel is increasingly obsolete and old-fashioned. When we do recorded training, we’re not sure exactly how long time every student will spend on the training, for instance. Everyone can rewind and repeat interesting things, or skip things they already know, so for us it’s all about content: what you learn, not how long time you spend learning it.

We will give you indications of course. We can say how much video time is included in a recorded training, and we can say that “this course represents the same content as a three-day classroom course”. But it’s important to note that we then strongly recommend you to not spend three days in a row consuming the material. You want to take it easy on the brain, right? Do a couple of hours at a time, then spend some time doing other things, or even practicing what you’ve learnt in training.

Come talk to us about your specific training needs, and we’ll stitch together a package that fits you like a glove. It’s what we do!

Do you really learn things in online classes?

Yes. It’s that simple: yes.

We have several ways of knowing this. Firstly, we talk a lot with our customers and ask them how they perceived the training. Also, if our customers didn’t learn from online training, they wouldn’t return to us, our online numbers wouldn’t be sky-rocketing and we wouldn’t currently be converting yet another one of our traditional classrooms into another video studio.

Secondly, our online training is usually structured as sequences of lessons with test questions between them. Test questions that you need to get right to unlock the next module, and well… people do make it to the end.

In fact, all studies show that it’s much better learning a subject over an extended time period, rather than cramming it all into three jam-packed days where you also have to leave a little bit early to catch your flight home, and miss the Friday afternoon summary which may be the most important part of the course. A few hours, or less, of learning at a time leads to much better retention of knowledge.

Will my employees really take the training?

Excellent question! And to be really honest, we don’t have any Jedi powers to force students to watch the screen in front of them when we’re on different continents. This is a real difference between online and classroom training, because you can (sort of) force your employees to show up in a classroom somewhere. It’s not uncommon for me to be asked to take attendance, even. (Then again, they can leave during the first break.)

However, we try to focus on quality instead. I’ve met many-a-classroom student who had been forced there by their managers, and I’m really not sure force-feeding knowledge is the way to go. (That’s me politely saying that I’m confident it’s not.)

Instead we try to be interesting, engaging, and have up-to-date information, served in a fun way, and then let the students decide if they prefer to learn or to wander of watching kitten videos in a separate window. In short: if the students don’t stay with me – I haven’t been interesting enough.

What if I want the training in another language?

We have customers who send their own instructors to us and record their versions of the training, in their language. But as you can imagine, that’s a little bit of a project. If English is almost acceptable to you, you could instead opt for a much more cost-efficient solution: have the training subtitled in your language. We can offer all recorded training subtitled in any major language, and many minor languages on request.

What does it cost?

You may expect the answer here to be: almost free. We’re used to things on the Internet being free, right? Turns out, it’s not. We always pay in some way. At Apis IP-Solutions we spend a lot of time perfecting our training, and keeping it up-to-date, so bottom-line: online training isn’t a whole lot cheaper to buy from us than classroom training. There are two main reasons our prices are still arguably good prices for you:

One: You get the same knowledge transferred, often even more and with better retention. And what is it you pay for, if not that?

Two: It does get cheaper, for you. This is of course because you don’t have to pay for all the travel and hotel arrangements of your participants, that often come from different cities and have to travel to join the training. You also don’t need to pay for any travel-related costs that we would have had, had it been a classroom course. (It’s also a good deal for the environment to not have all these people flying all over the globe.)

In summary

We like online training! Could you guess?

It’s good for you and it’s good for us. We won’t lie: it is good for us, and we have better margins on the training we sell online. But it’s a real win-win: we can then use those margins and spend time following the standards and reading everything that’s going on in the world.

A teacher that spends all his time on the road will get a lot of frequent flyer miles, but very little time to stay current with the torrent of news we spend our professional lives in.

Come try our online training – what have you got to lose?

Show me the Virtual Classroom Training

Show me the Recorded Training

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