With such dramatic advances in technology, virtual learning is gaining more and more traction as being a cost efficient means of providing professional development to the masses. Universities and colleges have been at the forefront of this advance but now even entrepreneurial trainers can access such technologies in a cost efficient manner. Virtual learning unquestionably makes training accessible to many more people. Where organizations might have been prepared to send 20 people away for a two day program, they now can have 200 people access the same content online and very often at a much lower cost.
Notwithstanding, a debate still rages as to whether, on its own, virtual learning is truly an effective mode with the general consensus favoring some form of blended delivery. Blended learning is a form of education that combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and students.
However what is still somewhat elusive with any of these approaches is the application of what is being learned back in the workplace. Many training organizations do not allow for this and rather see this as being the responsibility of the individual or organization. The reality is that the job is only half done in the learning phase.
The overlooked component is translating these new skills and tools into enhancing an employee’s effectiveness on the job (in the real world). This is where coaching has a huge contribution to make and especially so if the learning is primarily virtual. This can be individual or group based but the fundamental benefits of supplementing with coaching for a period of time post the learning phase is that it:
- Creates an expectation of doing something with the training such as practicing new skills, modifying behaviors, etc
- Puts in place an action oriented support system
- Provides accountability towards achieving certain goals or milestones
- Ensures successful outcomes and benefits to the organization
- Most importantly, it more visibly demonstrates the return on investment
Coaching is an enabler of learning. Without it the investment in the first place can be a big waste of time and money.