The world of learning and development has had to rapidly adapt to the changing global picture.
Before the pandemic, a majority of training was probably delivered face to face in hotels, offices and dedicated centres. But not anymore.
Lockdown measures and restrictions have forced trainers, speakers and coaches to change and adjust how they operate.
With so much online training now available, some people believe the quality or value of training has in some way been watered down.
I disagree. Strongly.
Here are 7 popular myths about online training and why you should NOT believe them.
Myth #1 – Online Classes are not as effective as face-to-face ones
Firstly, let me say that I love face-to-face training.
It’s how I got into training. And I was doing a lot of in-person training for 20 years, before moving my business online. There is certainly something special about being in a room with a group, the atmosphere and the different interactions.
But it’s not the only way to deliver effective learning. I have found my own online courses are just as strong at providing a successful outcome for participants as the face-to-face approach.
I know this because my students tell me that’s the case. Their feedback and testimonials are good evidence to back me up here.
Talking to other trainers, I know many are receiving the same kind of response. People who are willing to learn will learn online as well as they would in any room around the country.
Yes, it’s a little different but the results can be just as good. Online may even suit some participants better.
Myth #2 – Online classes are easier than in-person training
For in-person training, you obviously have to get there. Get to the venue, sort out travel arrangements, and possibly accommodation if it’s an early start or multi-day event.
You have to turn up and participate. You might be called upon by the trainer to do stuff.
With online training, you obviously don’t have to travel but you still have to ‘turn up’. Whilst that might not mean physically turn up, you are still going to be taking the class or course from your home or office.
You still have to put the effort in to learn properly and effectively. Otherwise, it could be a wasted opportunity. Just as with in-person events, you have to have the discipline to do the work you are asked to do. You will still need focus and your powers of concentration.
To get the most out of your online training, you still have to put some work and effort in. With potentially more distractions at home, it could be said to be harder for some people than if they were going to an in-person class or course.
Myth #3 – Online classes are not respected by employers
This myth is being totally blown to smithereens by what’s happening out there.
I’m writing this at a time when much of the world is slowly coming out of lockdown. Most training has gone online because restrictions make face-to-face training impossible.
Businesses need their people to be productive, skilled and up to date with whatever is required to do their job well.
Before the pandemic and lockdown, employers were booking in-person and online training. Now employers are booking online courses for their staff, who are working remotely.
Some specific sectors may find they are not getting the bookings of the past but there’s no clear-cut evidence of a let-up in general or popular training subjects.
I have not seen any dip in demand for my online courses. From what I am hearing in training communities and forums, employers are definitely respecting – and investing in – the online option.
Myth #4 – Online students don’t get to interact with their instructor
This is not necessarily true. It very much depends on the platform being used by the instructor.
With my online training courses, I am on screen so people can see me. I have a Facebook Group where my students can come together and chat with each other, support each other. There is plenty of interaction and possibilities to interact with me.
My learning management system has a Community feature. This means my students can post their questions and I can answer them.
My students can email me and I can respond. Sometimes I will even book a 10-minute call with them, to go through it 1-2-1 to help them. I’m happy to do that if it is something covered in the course and I feel it would help to cement the learning.
Myth #5 – Online offers no interaction with other students
This ties in with Myth #4. And the answer is pretty similar.
When you have a Community built into your online learning system, students will be able to interact with each other. That social interaction is very important. It can create bonds, deepen the learning and even lead to friendships (as it might with in-person training).
Something that one person asks on the training will help answer a question another attendee has, and vice versa. That’s really important. People learn from what other people ask.
It’s the reason why all my online courses have Community built-in. They are designed for individual learning and interactive learning.
Myth #6 – You have to teach yourself when learning is online
Online courses obviously give people material to learn.
If online courses are worth their salt, they won’t just be a series of slides. They won’t just expect participants to absorb the material. That would just have people falling asleep, which is obviously NOT a good thing.
With a good online course, you will not be expected to teach yourself. The sessions are likely to be interactive. You might be given a task to go away and do, like an assignment or to read a book and comment on it. There will be things for you to do to build in the learning.
You will be led, guided and helped in being taught the topic. In my case, I show you what is going on and you will see, step-by-step, what I am doing. This means you can follow it all as we go in the relevant Microsoft 365 ‘Office’ package.
Myth #7 – Online learning is all lectures
This is simply not true.
Where there are university or university-style courses, some training might be done lecture style. But most modern online training is not done that way. That’s because trainers have usually learned or had training in how to deliver effective courses and sessions.
Which is great news for all learners.
Any decent course that I or my colleagues run will have a lot of interactivity built-in. If the training is live, via Zoom or Teams, there will be interactivity. With these tools, you can have virtual breakout rooms, provide group chat messaging, and have private chat options with the instructor.
You can set people tasks to do and time them. They go off and do them and report back to the main session when time is up. You could have 60 minutes of training delivery, for example, followed by 30 minutes for an assignment. People can go away, do the assignment then check in again and say how they have got on.
Feedback from participants in these kinds of sessions is simply off the scale. If you choose your online course sensibly, you’ll get a lot out of it.
These are 7 of the most popular myths about online training. You may have heard some of them before or even believed some of them before.
Perceptions people have are intriguing. But if their decisions are being based on incorrect information or a tainted viewpoint, they could be missing out on a valuable – and increasingly common – way of learning.
Online training is here. And it’s here to stay.
You can see the video that this article is based on – on my YouTube Channel
There are many reasons why people find recent restrictions on movement uncomfortable.
We’re social animals. We like to be around others. We love good company. And we love live experiences.
But for many weeks now, people have been unable to go out in groups or large numbers. Crowds have been a rare sight.
And live shows, events and experiences have all been put on hold. No cinema. No clubs. No sports. No museums. No music festivals. No gigs. No air shows. No car boot sales. No gymkhanas. No fetes. No fairs. No theatre. No exhibitions. No conferences. No shows. Pretty much no nothing.
Major tournaments put on hold, cancelled, or pushed back a year. Organisers and fans left in limbo while things get discussed and ‘sorted out’. There’s not been anything like it.
Starved of the live experience out there, people have been seeking alternatives. And the performers have found ways to deliver a live experience into our homes.
It is all possible because of the Internet.
All kinds of live performances have been, and still can be, beamed into our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and apartments.
I have been too busy with the business to keep up with it all. But friends have been telling me about other ‘events’ they have seen or heard about.
Various London West End theatre shows and musicals, including some by Andrew Lloyd Webber, can be viewed on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Cirque du Soleil released several of their acrobatic and entertaining shows online, too.
Live performances of plays (which would have been screened in cinemas) have been put out the public, including National Theatre productions. Actor Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, read Tolkien’s The Hobbit online to raise money for charity.
Museums, galleries and other attractions have set up virtual tours for people unable to visit or travel. Live cams in zoos and conservation centres have seen increases in popularity.
And you may have noticed something else.
There has been an increase in the number and range of webinars and training being presented online. So many it’s hard to keep up with it all.
When we have busy lives, with work and family and so on, it is not always possible to tune in at the scheduled time. Good news, then, that most presentations include the option of a recording – to watch and listen when you do have time.
The webinar recordings are OK. You get the same content as if you had been there on the live training. But it’s not quite the same experience.
On the live training, you get to be part of the live audience. You can chat “Hi” to people in the chat message. You can type in your question to the trainer and get it answered.
Sometimes there is an invitational offer at the end of the free training and only those who attend ‘live’ get the bonuses. Or there might be a prize draw or competition during the live webinar – with only those attending ‘live’ eligible to win.
When it comes to training in Microsoft 365 and ‘Office’ applications, people already know that I offer a range of online courses (where, because of my personal step-by-step approach, it feels like I am there beside you… and the training so thorough that it covers the likely questions you might ask).
Live online learning anyone?
What some people may not know is that I also offer live training – and not just in person (when that is back in fashion or possible again).
I have been presenting online training for quite a few years’ now. It’s not something just tacked on in response to the latest world situation.
The live training has been delivered online to companies, teams, groups, and individuals. Ideal for those who want to get a good number or people trained properly, fast. Perfect for the person who wants a specific piece of training on how to get the most out of Microsoft 365.
We’ll talk about how that could create opportunities for the smarter VA in a moment.
First, just take a look at what’s happening out there as a result of recent global lockdowns.
Streaming service Netflix saw a huge spike in subscriptions in its most recent quarter. Across the globe, it added 15.7 million paying customers to its books. Worldwide membership has topped 180 million.
Amazon Prime is fast catching up, with around 150 million subscribers. The service not only offers TV shows and films but also next-day delivery and food delivery options.
Disney+ has almost doubled its global subscribers since the coronavirus outbreak, up to around 50 million people. And you can bet Apple TV is seeing some gains, too.
One of the biggest benefits of these streaming services is that customers can view what they want when they want, where they want. On their smart TV, laptop, tablet device or smartphone.
People can watch single episodes at a time or binge-watch an entire season all in one go.
We live in a world where many have a box set mindset.
And that’s not just in people’s living rooms. It is also a factor in boardrooms and businesses.
No longer enough to say “I’m competent” in Word, Excel, Outlook or PowerPoint”. Companies want their teams, especially when working remotely, to be able to share ideas, solve problems, give instant feedback and work together in synch.
Bosses want their people to have the ‘box set’ of skills, knowledge and know-how to keep things moving. To stay afloat or to stay ahead.
That mentality will be the same when they work with external professionals, such as VA’s.
They will expect you to know how to use the full G Suite or the box set of Microsoft 365 applications and tools. These days, the latter is also likely to include the Microsoft Teams communications and collaboration hub.
If you are on top of how to complete tasks and make the technology simplify your clients’ lives, you are going to be in demand.
Create your own box set
There are also opportunities to package up your services, whether general or specialised. All delivered without any drama, naturally. It’s certainly worth giving it some thought.
When you look back and analyse it, things were always going to move this way. The global pandemic simply accelerated it all to this point.
Virtual team working. Remote working. Online collaboration. Online meetings. Online presentations. These will be part of the ‘new normal’, long after these strange times are past.
You may also have noticed how people have been using their time at home to learn something new. You cannot move around social media without seeing a post or ad about the latest online course for almost any topic under the sun.
Sadly, many of these pieces of training will have been dashed together in a rush, in an attempt to jump on the bandwagon and ‘cash in’ on any opportunity to make a quick buck. Do make sure you choose wisely.
Some professional trainers, like myself, have been providing online courses and training for many, many years.
You may have noticed something in recent weeks. Online training is all the rage.
Training for this. Training for that. Training for things you never knew existed until now.
What a bombardment in your social media feed every day. I wonder if it will ever end?
The fact there is so much ‘out there’ now has its up sides and its down sides.
It’s great to see that there are opportunities for people to learn, develop new skills, brush up on old skills, and (maybe for the first time ever) finally get to grips with a topic.
But the current situation does carry a ‘buyer beware’ warning. Because there are some rogues out there. There are cheats, liars and thieves. And they wouldn’t bat an eyelid before taking your money off you and laughing all the way to the bank.
So do be careful when choosing who to go with for your online learning and training.
Is the ‘trainer’ just one of those fly-by-night operators who is out to make a killing at the expense of the vulnerable, confused or desperate?
Or do they have genuine pedigree? Can they demonstrate they are the real deal?
Do your research. Do your due diligence. Do think twice before parting with your hard-earned cash.
There are good people out there. There are genuine experts who can teach you what you want to know. Seek them out.
And if you wish to learn more about the ‘how to’ with Microsoft Office there is something you should know.
I already offer live training online in that – for groups and individuals.
I’ve been qualified to deliver this kind of training in Microsoft Office 365 since 2014. And I’ve got more than 20 years’ experience in the platform and all its applications.
So if you have a team or group who would like to up their skills in one or more of Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel or Teams, for example, do get in touch.
Or, if you are a VA who wants to get some accelerated learning so you can serve clients in a better and more productive way, I can help with that, too. Just ask.
If you know me a little by now you will know I am on a bit of a mission with Microsoft training.
I would love to rid the world of those irritating courses that teach you what THEY want to teach… instead of what you need to learn to get the job done. It just seems silly to charge people for what they will never – or hardly likely – use in their lifetime.
That’s one of the reasons why VA’s say they buy my online courses. There’s no waffle or padding. It’s just the essentials, taught in a straight step-by-step way. It’s as if I am by your side as I show you every click, every move of the mouse, each drop down menu and include some shortcuts.
With my live training, it’s just like that. Except I am there with you ‘live’ rather than on a video recording. There is more interaction, you get to ask questions and we go at the right pace for you. Either way, I share my screen with you so you can see it all happen in front of your very eyes and you get to participate and put the learning into practice right there and then.
Who can benefit from Live Online Learning?
I truly believe that anyone can learn how to do things better, faster and more easily. And I’m not afraid to shout that from the rooftops.
Experience counts. The ability to teach a topic well so people learn properly is vital. Being a guide who knows how all the tech ticks is important.
Virtual assistants and executive assistants are my audience, niche or tribe. I love helping them. They turn to me for help with their Microsoft Office training and I never disappoint. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time and keep on top of my skills year on year.
You will find me fair, patient and honest. They are my non-negotiable values in business. I hope you share those values, too.
If you are a VA on a mission to improve the way you work, we are likely to get on well. A bit of ambition, passion and drive will always get you places. Whether you are starting out with Microsoft Office or looking to develop your existing skills, why not go for a little one-to-one live training.
Give yourself the opportunity to make more of yourself, attract more of the clients you want to work with and push through these strange times.