Face-to-Face vs Virtual Training

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Since the pandemic took hold of the world virtual fire and rescue asset management training sessions have become the new normal but is virtual training a better way to learn compared to the traditional face-to-face method?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at the pros and cons of training new services in our fire and rescue asset management software solution through different methods. First things first what are they?

What is face-to-face training?

Face-to-face training is when a Training Coordinator comes out to your headquarters or to an agreed facility to deliver training in person to your employees. This could be one single session or over several days to suit your needs.

What is virtual training?

Virtual training is when a Training Coordinator will deliver your training sessions live through a video conferencing service. The session allows the target audience to receive the training even when face-to-face training isn’t possible.

So, the big question on everyone’s mind is, is one method better than the other? Let’s see how they measure up!

Pros Face-to-face • Human interaction • Dedicated training time • The ability to raise your hand and have a question answered straight away • Engagement Virtual • No commute • Chatroom features • Availability out of hours • Screen sharing Cons Face-to-face • Commute • Only available at set times • Disruptions Virtual • Internet Connectivity • No specific time • Technical difficulties

Human Interaction

The obvious difference is the ability to have a person in the room with you while the training is taking place. A Training Coordinator on had to guide you through instructions via a presentation or even over your shoulder demonstrating a step-by-step process can provide a huge confidence booster. Trainers can slow training down as you need it or repeat certain points to make sure everyone understands and is at the same level. We’re social creatures and while having the ability to connect from anywhere in the world is a big bonus it can’t always make up for that face-to-face interaction.

Location

That brings us to our next pro from the virtual list, location. Virtual training has made it easier to attend a training session, reducing your commute to zero. Where a physical session requires a training room or available facility and potentially money to acquire that space, virtual training can be done from anywhere, even on a beach in Maui (although we wouldn’t exactly recommend that as we’d be extremely jealous). No more waiting on people to arrive or second-guessing traffic jams, just a time and a link and you’re there.

Dedicated Training Time

However, some employees are so busy that having a specific date and time set aside for a face-to-face training is beneficial. It allows them to qualify the time set aside with managers and teams letting them focus solely on the training session and not the rest of their working day. Whereas with virtual training they may push it back continually as other work responsibilities stake priority.

Availability

Availability comes into play with virtual training when work responsibilities do need to take precedence over a training session. A great feature that comes with many of the video conferencing applications available from Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts is the ability to record live sessions, creating an archive of educational material. For those who cannot attend a live session, they can watch the training session back at their convenience without falling behind. This is something that face-to-face training lacks or would be cumbersome to do without setting up a camera in the back of the room.

While there are a few of the obvious points there are many pros and cons for both types of training.

Over the past 18 months fire and rescue services across the country have needed to change and adapt their day-to-day and training circumstances to continue as normal as possible and deliver the training that their service needs. CSS, as a software organisation, has had to make that transition too. Our main training scenarios were face-to-face and our Training Coordinators would visit our customers as and when needed to deliver training to existing and new users. Our journey to virtual training during the pandemic saw us face a few challenges of our own.

Challenges Faced & Overcome

  • Internet Connectivity –  Making sure customers could access the links that were issued from our conferencing application was a challenge as some fire and rescue services had firewalls in place for security purposes. We resolved this issue by ensuring we engaged with customers a few days ahead of schedule to ensure connections were open and secure and everyone could join with ease.
  • Engagement – At times confirming users had understood the training was slightly harder virtually compared to the face-to-face method as our trainer couldn’t read their facial expressions or body language. To overcome this, we issued feedback forms to highlight areas that required a more in-depth explanation and followed up with an FAQ document.
  • Face-to-face training setup – There are many factors to consider before a face-to-face training session can occur. Making sure every attendee was on time, could see the presentation and ensuring the training room was prepared was a task that took a great deal of time and coordination to master. Now, virtual training sessions have eliminated that task as we can share instructor screens, so everyone has a clear view. Training links and reminders provided mean everyone can be on time no matter where they are.

Throughout the pandemic and more recently our team has managed to utilise virtual training to ensure our customers can continue with the process of implementing Pro-Cloud BlueLight within their fire and rescue service and have the confidence that their team are able to use the system to its full potential. It has also allowed us to continue delivering projects without any interruption to agreed delivery dates.

Virtual training has ultimately been the saving grace to come from the pandemic, it has allowed us to stay connected when it wasn’t possible to be together and provided us with the flexibility to offer employees more than they could have ever imagined in terms of working in different locations. While it has its virtues there are still some things that only face-to-face training can offer.

So, what is the answer? Which method is best? Face-to-face or virtual training?

Here at Pro-Cloud BlueLight, we say both and the choice is always yours. You can discuss your preferences with our team during initial meetings and come to a decision that you’ll be confident in.

Find out more about our organisation by visiting our website: www.pro-cloud-bluelight.com or contact us via sales@csseurope.co.uk

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