In September 2009, 1080 Group LLC conducted a short online survey that explored the motivation of trainers in North America for their use of Web conferencing.
The survey, conducted on behalf of Citrix Online, gathered 437 responses. Respondents were asked about their training experience, both overall and using Web conferencing for training.
Fifty-three percent of the survey respondents had more
than 10 years of training experience. Another 22% had 5 to 10 years of experience. Fifty-one percent of total respondents had never used Web conferencing to conduct training.
Key findings of the survey indicate that the top business drivers include saving on travel budgets and increasing trainers’ reach. Trainers project their use of Web conferencing for training in the next year will grow by a robust 34%. Not surprisingly, when asked how travel costs factor into their decision to move training online, only 14% noted “it is not a factor.”
Understandably, the top reason cited for what would inhibit the use of Web conferencing for training is “training content that doesn’t display on a computer.”
1080 Group concludes that while pressured budgets may be a catalyst to exploring alternatives to in-person training, clearly new opportunities to improve productivity and deliver value are being discovered.
More Than Saving Money
Survey respondents who indicated experience using Web conferencing for training were asked how it has affected their current training offering. The top business benefit was: “reduce travel budgets” (80%). Clearly, however, the value trainers are experiencing also includes their ability to accomplish new things.
“Include learners who could not attend before” (77%) suggests that the need to improve productivity is nearly equivalent to the pain of economic pressures. Given that fewer respondents chose “replace in-person courses” (53%) than “reduce travel budgets” (80%), it is likely that many trainers are blending in-person training with live, online training. Still, the fact that half of trainers with experience using Web conferencing have replaced in-person courses is significant. Add this to the surprising fact that 38% of respondents note that Web conferencing creates new opportunities (“enable new courses that we could not hold before”), and the conclusion of the study is clear: synchronous remote training potentially offers more than just saving money to an organization open to new possibilities.
Survey respondents were asked to compare how their organizations deliver training today versus what they anticipate one year from now.
Overall, in-person training is expected to decrease from 62% of all training delivered to 50%, while the expected use of all alternatives
increased. Live training using Web (and audio) conferencing is expected to grow 34% in the next year.
Compared to the growth rates of “other technologies” (23% growth) and “audio conferencing only” (9% growth), two observations emerge:
First, audio conferencing has long been the option for synchronous remote training, yet its single-modal engagement (aural only) is a significant limitation. Second, self-directed e-learning using on-demand solves the problem of including visual engagement, yet in this survey both are used less and projected to grow at a slower rate than Web conferencing.
As an alternative to in-person training, live training using Web (and audio) conferencing leads both in current usage and in anticipated growth. 1080 Group believes the reason is likely a combination of factors, including:
>> Web conferencing engages multiple senses.
>> Web conferencing affords trainers flexibility in content delivery.
>> Live training content often requires significantly less preparation and production time than on-demand e-learning.
The results of this survey suggest that a rapid evolution in training delivery is occurring. Economic pressure may be a catalyst for change, but the reality is that Web conferencing is opening up new possibilities as well.
For some trainers, it’s a method to blend learning experiences. For others, it may be an opportunity to control an instructor-led experience in a way that audio conferencing alone never afforded.
Whatever the reasons, live training using Web conferencing is the preferred way to simultaneously respond to pressured budgets and pursue improved productivity.
Ultimately, these survey results raise the question: If trainers can achieve these benefits by adding Web conferencing to their training
communications mix, what will happen to the competitiveness of organizations that fail to adapt?
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