Case Study: Virtual Classroom Answers Online Training Problems at Aetna

Virtual classroom answers online training problems

Thanks to good planning, research and execution, Aetna U.S. Healthcare has actively capitalized on the benefits of the virtual classroom. Aetna, a leading $15.5 billion healthcare benefits provider, boasts nearly 16 million health members.

Dave Blair, training director for Aetna’s health-care division, came face-to-face with a decision that would ultimately match Aetna’s philosophy of care and quality customer service with a cost-effective, online training program. Blair spent five months researching online training technologies and came away enthralled.

Top management was less enthusiastic but approved Blair’s initiative to implement virtual classroom software. The next step was to find a provider that could understand Aetna’s training needs and match those needs with the right technology. Aetna looked at three leading vendors and finally decided on iLinc. The software is now supporting Aetna’s efforts to improve communication and training, while remaining a cost effective long-term solution.

“The great thing about the iLinc virtual classroom is that it lets live online instructors control class presentations using synchronized multimedia and content available over the Web,” explains Blair. “It also offers application sharing, electronic hand-raising, and a glimpse feature that lets instructors acquire a screen capture of any student’s desktop.”


Enterprises like Aetna that are considering an investment in virtual classroom solutions should keep several factors in mind. These are the success criteria that have guided the investments of other organizations that have effectively deployed this approach. Consider these factors:

 >> Audience Support. In order to ensure that you can provide compelling learning events and experiences online, it’s important to ensure that your solution is consistent with varying bandwidth ranges and network environments (including firewalls). In addition, the solution should be platform-agnostic: accessible with a PC, Mac or Linux machine. Ease of use is critical in order to ensure high adoption and satisfaction.

>> Dynamic Interaction. Look for solutions that enable a high degree of interactivity and audience engagement. This is one area where the virtual classroom can indeed surpass conventional classrooms. Instructors should have the ability to solicit and provide feedback in real-time (through polls, quizzes, surveys, spot checks, etc.) and participants should have the ability to collaborate as a group.

>> Learning Expertise. You should expect solution providers to have clear and defined domain expertise in learning and training principles. Solutions should be specifically designed for training applications, not merely “bolted on” to an existing Web conferencing technology. The virtual classroom approach must be instructionally sound if it is to deliver the necessary benefits. Also, ensure that the solution can be effectively integrated with learning management systems (LMS) that track individual skills, competencies, resources, and performance against set targets.

>> Usage Options. While some solution providers only allow their customers to “rent” software through subscriptions, many organizations can realize the highest return on investment and lowest total cost of ownership by purchasing their software licenses. They should have the option.

>> Measurable Impact. Look for a partner that can help you define and articulate a clear, compelling and measurable business case for investing in a virtual classroom solution. In order to strengthen the perception and enhance the impact of the training group, it’s vital that clear objectives are outlined and results are tracked. These are some of the core issues that decision-makers in the field of training and education must consider as they look to maximize the value of their investments in the virtual classroom. By ensuring these criteria are met, training leaders can take the key steps necessary to accelerate learning, cut costs, and enhance overall performance in the enterprise.

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