March 2020 was the month when all Arm training suddenly had to go virtual. With the outbreak of Covid-19, global lock downs and remote working for all those that could, classroom training from Arm had to adapt and had to do it quickly.
We'd already been delivering short 1/2-day courses via Virtual Live Classrooms since 2016, but the challenge of delivering three or four days worth of training virtually had been avoided. That challenge had to be taken on.
Instead of trying and replicate the onsite classroom in the virtual classroom, the new method offered the opportunity to deliver the training differently, playing to its strengths.
Rather than having to deliver the course over successive days, the virtual nature of the delivery allowed topics to be split up in to 2-3 hour sessions and spread out over a few weeks. This can also be supplemented before the training sessions by OnDemand training videos. This fits better alongside the trainers and delegates day jobs and allows time between sessions to practice and apply what has been learned. It also allows for questions to be prepared in advance and asked at the next session.
The challenge of interaction and not seeing each other in person is always an issue in the virtual classroom. Trainers have been using their webcams to introduce themselves to the class and for questions but turn them off when not needed to save bandwidth and to focus attention on the content.
Another challenge in the Virtual Classroom is that Trainers don't know if delegates are listening or are busy trying to multitask. In the face-to-face classroom this is can easily be observed but is far more challenging to pick up online. To overcome this trainers have been encouraging interaction by asking questions and looking at who is responding in chat. Use of the raise hand tool to ensure the group is ok to move on has also worked well.
The team are also starting to use Mentimeter as a way of delivering more interactive knowledge checks, brain storming and quizzes and have started to refine the content slide design to be easier to read online. This not only improves the virtual expereicen but will also help increase interaction on face to face courses in future..
Virtual sessions are also quicker to arrange. Content provided in downloadable PDF from the online training platform can be turned around on the same day. With less less travel time and more flexibility around the working week it means trainer availabilty is higher and timescales to arrange as short as 2-3 weeks.
As with all IT-related live tasks, things can go wrong. By encouraging trainers to log on with two computers, having a second host and using Wi-Fi and either mobile or Ethernet it has ensured the training has always been delivered with backups in place. As for issues with the virtual platform, we have WebEx as our preference, but Teams, Skype for Business and Zoom also available depending on class size and IT restrictions or prefreances of our partners.
So far we have delivered over 20 courses with feedback satisfaction of 91% (equivalent to that of our face to face in-person classes). We have now taken this approach for all training including the popular and tailorable list below:
Virtual Live Classroom Training
We hope to get back to offering in-person live face-to-face training soon, but the experience of delivering larger courses virtually gives the team and our Partners another credible training option.
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