Susan Tauro
Principal Communications Specialist

With COVID-19 keeping most of the country’s workforce at home, more companies are turning to distance learning. But its benefits carry over to healthier climates, too.

Everyone is minding their distance right now. Events are cancelled, stores are closed, and many companies are going remote to keep people healthy. The shift to a virtual workplace has organizations considering new ways to keep operations rolling, including employee training.

Distance learning is an invaluable tool in times like these. But even in healthier climates, its speed, flexibility and interactive capabilities can make it more effective than traditional in-person training.

Instant insights from any distance

Responding to unplanned events is all about speed. Once, I worked with a telecommunications client that had an urgent training need: It had only a few weeks to teach new waste handling procedures to hundreds of employees across multiple locations.

Gathering the entire staff in one location was not feasible, so they turned to distance learning. Developing and hosting a series of interactive webinars allowed them to reach necessary personnel quickly without figuring the logistics of a large in-person session.

Every webinar was led by the same expert instructor that attendees could send questions to in real-time. That consistency ensured trainees fully understood the new procedure and how to implement it right away.

Training is usually not an emergency. Still, instantly distributing training materials to your entire workforce on a Learning Management System (LMS) can be more convenient and manageable than coordinating face-to-face sessions across multiple working teams and locations.

Customizable, reusable and accessible training

While the waste handling sessions showed distance learning’s speed, its flexibility provides long-term value as well. For the telecommunications client, the webinar was transformed into formal e-learning modules accessible at any time on the LMS.

The organization customized the modules to different job functions, equipping workers with insights regarding their day-to-day work. Traditionally, this might have required a series of sessions using various instructors to relay job-specific guidance. With e-learning, all employees received personalized training in one fell swoop.

Flexibility also came into play for a different client in the financial sector, where U.S.-based instructors were burning the midnight oil hosting live webinars for global co-workers. When working graveyard shifts became untenable, distance learning allowed the trainers to maintain worldwide reach.

Instead of an endless stream of late-night sessions, a one-time investment in e-learning led to thousands of trainings based out of the client’s LMS. The modules, complete with video clips, screen captures, music and narration, provided the same quality of training in a format more convenient to users and instructors.

Enhanced engagement and progress tracking

I have had some clients hesitate over distance learning because they believe the classroom setting forces staff to focus on the content. But captivating instructors can be in limited quantity or availability. And even with a great instructor, classroom-style trainings might not connect with workers’ learning styles. E-learnings can seize attendees’ attention to heighten engagement.

One of our association clients, for example, is providing employees with reinforcement training for certification coursework. To keep the users engaged through three textbooks’ worth of lessons, we leveraged interactive features, exciting visuals and professional sound design.

The variety of user-friendly components kept the content from getting stale. The sessions are now informing the client’s plans for future in-person training sessions, proving that e-learning techniques can be combined with traditional training to get the best of both worlds.

No matter the style, a lesson plan’s success lies with the students. If they fail to grasp the key takeaways, then the training failed them. But how can you tell?

E-learning modules can be equipped with knowledge checks to test your employees’ comprehension levels. Instant completion reports from the LMS provide snapshots of who has completed the training, how they scored, and who still needs to complete it.

Keep distance learning in mind

Soon enough, traditional in-person training will no longer be considered a safety issue. But don’t overlook the power of distance learning going forward. Its features can help your organization maximize the engagement, effectiveness and convenience of workforce training.


Susan Tauro
Principal Communications Specialist