Its no surprise that the demand for online and virtual classroom learning has dramatically increased with lockdown and quarantine. What is less certain is 'how long this trend is likely to continue'. Most experts agree that we're seeing changes that are likely to be with us forever.
What does this all mean for the future of your training business?
Is the trend in online and virtual training a threat or an opportunity?
How can you position your training business for the future?
How will you manage the transition?
We've applied 30 years of experience in developing and supporting RTO compliant training management systems to come up with the 7 recommendations to help your answer these questions.
1. Study the new terrain
Always keep one eye out for technologies, websites, mobile apps and learning modalities that could have an impact on how you attract students, deliver and assess training, issue certificates and manage reporting. That's one eye. Use the other eye to assess opportunities that may allow you to apply what you learned with the other eye. Google these Examples: Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR). Learning Technologies: Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT), Experience API (xApi), Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), Virtual Classroom, Simulation Software (in your field). Keep a Wiki file on everything with links and references so you build an extensive resource library that you can draw on when the time is right.
2. Invest in productivity systems
These not only help you to streamline your business processes. They also help you to be consistent and look professional. They save money through automation and because all good system came with APIs today they enable you to connect with customers, partners and your internal workforce. We've used Microsoft 365 since 2015. I can't tell you how much time and effort it has saved us over the years, and I can't picture running our business without it.
3. Add Virtual attendance options
The minute you open your doors to remote students who can attend your classes virtually you cease to be constrained by your geographical boundaries. Many training providers tell us, "that sounds great for learning content and theory, but my industry demands that I assess my students face to face". That's often true, but what if you could offer training Australia wide and Assessment locally. Perhaps you could co-opt with interstate providers to share the burden of assessment while reaping the benefits of virtual classroom training.
4. Invest in Online Training and Assessment
The next frontier once you've opened the doors to remote training is take your most popular courses and investigate ways to deliver them online. If you can get your content into a set of power point slides, there are many SCORM authoring tools like Articulate, Captivate and iSpring that can convert them to online SCORM or xApi courses. The process is simple and some AVETMISS compliant student management systems these days are offering built in SCORM compliant LMS solutions that are fully integrated with face-to-face (Blended training).
5. Invest in an RTO performance dashboard
As the famous old saying from Peter Drucker goes "You can't manage it if you can't measure it". Reporting and dashboard tools today allow you to capture and analyse your data, so you can make important decisions quickly, based on accurate up-to-the-minute information. That could apply to finance, completion rates, resource management and anything that potentially impacts your business. Investigate Power BI and Stimulsoft dashboard options.
6. Automate your workflows
These especially relate to those emails and communication that someone somewhere forgot to send or to act on and in the end it just didn't get done. Remembering to communicate critical information is just too hard, too dangerous and unnecessary these days. Tools like Microsoft Power Automate, Azure Logic Apps and Teams contain workflow automation that you can integrate across your system with API technologies. Not only do your notifications, workflows and reminders get triggered reliably but they are accurate, backed up with reminders, include attachments and documents needed by your recipients and acknowledgements that "yes they got the message".
7. Consider your systems as employees
Invest in them, keep them maintained and serviced and they will help you and your team get the results you expect. The software graveyards of the world are littered with good systems that never performed. The usual cause of death - poor use of related services: Support, training, implementation, data migration, integration, and consulting. These are services that good vendors offer and are designed to help your systems deliver what you expect.