From our recent survey on client training preferences, we learned that one size does not fit all for clients with different planning challenges, skill levels, or time zones. As we continue to develop our online training program, we’re applying what we’ve learned to align delivery with the current needs of our clients.
For years, Remsoft has worked with clients online, providing tech support and remote sessions to help people use our technology to solve complex forest planning and land management challenges. While this type of digital connection is not new to our team, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to offer virtual training to our clients in addition to the personalized courses we deliver on–site and the open sessions we offer around the world.
In recent months, we offered a new series of online courses to help users advance their modeling skills. We surveyed attendees for their thoughts on the experience and what we learned was useful. Overall, the sessions were good, the technology worked, and we improved with each course.
Since it appears that we won’t be travelling to deliver training in the near future, we really wanted to understand our clients’ thoughts on remote training. We surveyed every client, manager, or user of our Woodstock Optimization Studio, asking them how they felt about virtual learning.
As you might expect, most of us still prefer to receive training in person. 67% of our survey respondents felt this way, which is natural. In-person training brings the additional benefits of live networking with other participants, after–class interactions, and frequently, the chance to get out of the office and travel.
While online training may not offer the same in-person touch, it has its advantages. Scheduling is more convenient and flexible, participants can network virtually with industry professionals from around the world, and overall costs are reduced since travel expenses are eliminated.
Key components essential to online training
We asked respondents what they would be looking for in a training course and 87% said that their highest priority was the ability to ask questions or receive additional help when needed. This was followed closely by “Relevance of material delivered,” and “Connecting personally with a Remsoft expert.”
People want to know that training will have content that’s relevant to what they’re working on, they want it to be delivered by deeply knowledgeable and experienced trainers, and they want good materials to work with.
Class size needs to be small – fewer than eight people, and preferably with peers who are at the same experience level. One of the great opportunities of online training is that smaller class sizes can help people feel more comfortable asking questions or asking for help, speaking to the top priority identified in our survey.
What else did we learn?
Survey data told us that users prefer about four hours of lecture and exercises to work on each day, freeing up the other half of their day for work, exploring the exercises, or just taking a break.
Respondents echoed the sentiment that many of us have been feeling in our daily work life – video conferencing technology and communications platforms need to work. With so many of our clients now working from home, we have setup an online training environment using virtual machines so that participants can connect securely from anywhere their “office” may be.
Furthermore, different regions of the world have different challenges, and we continue to focus on understanding what works best for a region or country. Thanks to survey feedback from our friends Down Under, we added classes at different times of the day to account for different time zones.
One size doesn’t fit all
In these challenging times, we understand how critical it is to provide a personal connection during training. While all Remsoft courses are offered in real-time with a highly experienced trainer, survey results told us that in some situations an informal virtual coaching session could be even more useful than a formal training class. Because of this feedback, we have made private online coaching sessions available to help fast-track our clients’ success.
The key takeaway from our findings is that there is no single learning experience that fits all. To support and enable users to upskill when and where they need to, we have been working hard to replicate the in-person training that we traditionally offer in an online environment. This is just one of the changes that we hope to continue post pandemic.