It was about a year ago, as the first vaccines were in development (and we were mostly locked-down) that virtual training expert Dr. RK Prasad, made several bold predictions for the future of virtual training and eLearning in general.
In view of what Virtual Training Associates (VTA) has learned in the past year, I feel it is useful to compare some of Dr. Prasad’s predictions with our findings as virtual ethics trainers and consultants. To be fair, this set of observations applies to our experiences in training of ethics, sports ethics, sexual harassment prevention programs and similar topics. Other fields, ranging from healthcare to workplace safety may have experienced, and continue to experience, different trends.
Prediction1: There will be a shift toward virtual and online training. In 2020, there was a profound shift to the virtual that was done out of necessity. While, as Dr. Prasad states “The consensus was that there will be a big leap in all forms of virtual and online training,” we can’t help but note that it is ipso facto (by the very fact), a completely satisfactory solution. It is also contingent on the instructors, technology and the economic recovery. Many “students” did not gain the benefits they should have gained.
Prediction 2: There will be a change in the training paradigm. Dr. Prasad predicted a shift from “about 70% physical and 30% virtual, will now become 70% virtual and 30% physical.” VTA feels that in-person follow-up to virtual training will be the new norm where the trainers will come to the organization and/or association being trained. We cannot underestimate the value of human contact. While percentage predictions are difficult, we can certainly see a 50:50 balance.
Prediction 3: There will be a “new normal” of the training mix of a variety of eLearning training modalities. Again, our observation is that as good as virtual training may be, there is an in-person dynamic of training that is difficult to replace.
Prediction 4: Training needs will be addressed virtually. Unless there is a huge shift in better participatory technologies and follow-up modalities, including workplace observation and mandatory break-out sessions, training flaws will continue unabated.
Prediction 5: New content will be created. On this point we are in complete agreement. At VTA we are constantly changing and upgrading content for our clients. Ethical training is dynamic, especially as workplace issues continue to emerge.
Prediction 6: There will be new training technologies and media. This has been a given at VTA. We have heavily invested in our production capabilities and training tools to deliver a more dynamic product.
Prediction 7: This is a new era for training professionals. Dr. Prasad is again correct. Unless training professionals can keep up with virtual technologies to supplement processes, physical training and professional collaboration, “students” will clearly suffer.
Prediction 8: A pentagon of partnerships. Virtual training and virtual hybrid models will certainly rely on greater coordination and interconnectedness in the future. There must be a buy-in to training across the board. We have long noted that we may train one department, for example, while other departments and corporate “C-level” executives are not trained or even aware of the ethics training at all.
In general, VTA feels that Dr. Prasad did an excellent job of prediction based on the information available to him in 2020. The virus had a great deal to do with changes to corporate culture, but we feel its greatest impact was to accelerate changes that were already set in motion.
What will not change is the strong need for ethics training. Whether the training is primarily virtual with modest, in-person follow-up or a stronger “hybrid mix,” it remains essential.
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