Virtual Training Delivery Tool Review

Review of Virtual Training Delivery Tools

Review of Virtual Training Delivery Platforms

Increasing need to educate dispersed workforces, the growing popularity of home working as well as time and cost saving initiatives are all key justifications for switching from classroom to virtual training delivery. The social distancing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many organisations into making the change sooner than intended, as can be seen by the recent boost in demand for video conferencing solutions, for example. In an article from McKinsey, “Accelerating Adoption of Digital Solutions” was cited as one of the key strategic areas that businesses must focus on, in order to recover quickly from the affects of the pandemic.

We have been supporting organisations with the implementation of training initiatives for more than 30 years. During this time we’ve adopted various applications to support us in the delivery of online meetings, virtual training sessions and social collaboration. We have first hand experience of how the drive for digital transformation continues to accelerate change in our industry. A recent Forbes article also predicted that eLearning will become a bigger part of ongoing learning, saying “In-person learning programs won’t go away, but they’ll be reserved for certain functions and certain populations within the company. Face-to-face learning will likely be just a small element of a learning curriculum.”

Because our clients’ requirements are evolving, as well as our own business needs, we have recently undertaken an evaluation of virtual training delivery platforms and are sharing our findings here. We’ve considered some of the key features that we require for digital classroom delivery, and investigated if this functionality exists. As an agnostic services consultancy, we’re not reselling any of these products but anticipate this article will encourage further discussion to help the community learn more about what is available and more importantly, what works.

Please note, this article is centred around our experience and not part of a wider consultation. We don’t profess to be experts on any of these platforms and therefore where Pros and Cons have been provided, these are based on our own use of these tools.

Key Features of Classroom Training

A good physical classroom environment should have:

  • Seating and desks for delegates
  • Training machines (PCs/Macs/Tablets etc), if applicable
  • A means for the instructor to directly collaborate with their delegates, e.g. talk, share their screen, instant feedback
  • A means for the instructor to observe activities being undertaken by delegates
  • Enough space for delegates to work in smaller break-out groups (or option to use additional classrooms for this)
  • A real-time tool to allow the instructor to take notes/ideas/question that are visible to the class, i.e. Smartboard/whiteboard/flip-chart

Key Features for Virtual Training Delivery

Virtual Training should offer many of the same features:

  • Real-time collaboration between instructor and delegates
  • Video and audio for communication
  • Screen sharing for instructor and delegates
  • Interactive functionality to share ideas (Whiteboard, Polls, Instant messaging/chat, etc.)

Virtual classrooms also offer additional functionality that is not readily available in physical classrooms:

  • Archived courses
  • Larger class sizes
  • Geographically diverse delegates

Main Technology Providers

For the purposes of our review, we have chosen some of the main contenders in the virtual training delivery space. There are many other providers and we would be interested in hearing from you if there are other applications that are working well for you. These are the six applications we have reviewed:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Cisco Webex
  • GotoTraining
  • Google Meet
  • Adobe Connect

We used TrustRadius to provide an independent comparison score for each of the applications under review.

LMS Integration

Integration of virtual training delivery applications with Learning Management Systems appears to be a fast area of growth, driven by the increase in home working and demand for virtual training alternatives. Many Learning Management System vendors are now offering some form of integration with their choice of online delivery platform. This could be a simple link through to an online session, or the LMS could provide functionality to track and report, for example. It’s not necessarily a game changer for organisations looking for virtual training delivery, more of an added feature benefit. At a basic level all of the online delivery applications that we have reviewed offer some form of LMS integration.

Social Learning

For many organisations social collaboration is becoming a key part of their learning strategy. Because Social Learning offers learning at the point of need, it enables learners to avoid the dreaded 70-20-10 scenario. Although the majority of the virtual training delivery applications we reviewed offered some collaborative features including interactive polling, breakout sessions as well as screen and file sharing, this was (as far as we are aware) only available during a scheduled virtual session. Microsoft Teams stands-out in that it offers a more interactive, chat-based interface providing the opportunity for groups to collaborate informally, outside of scheduled sessions.

Our Virtual Training Delivery Tool Review Findings

FunctionZoomMS TeamsCisco WebexGoToTrainingGoogle Meet Adobe Connect
AboutZoom is a dedicated web conferencing and collaboration tool that provides robust online training delivery featuresMS Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite and offers functionality to facilitate virtual classrooms. However, the learning curve is quite steepCisco Webex is a dedicated web conferencing tool that provides virtual classroom specific featuresGoToTraining is part of the wider GoTo Suite of online collaboration toolsGoogle Meet, formally Hangouts, is part of the G Suite of productsAdobe Connect is a dedicated web conferencing application that can be used for online meetings, webinars and training session
Free VersionYesYes (limited functionality)YesYesTrial (14 days)Trial (30 days)
Maximum ParticipantsScaled:
Free >100
Enterprise Plus >1000
250Scaled:
Free >200
Business <200
100Basic >100
Business >150
Enterprise <250
A user is defined as a personal email address. Group emails are including but don't count as users
200 (Connect Learning)
Web ClientYes (limited functionality)YesYesYes (limited features)YesYes
Installed ClientYesYesNoYesNoYes (Presenter needed for screen sharing)
VideoYesYesYesYesYesYes
WhiteboardYesYesYesNoNoYes
Screen ShareYesYesYesYesYesYes
Multi Screen ShareYesNoNoNoNoYes
File ShareYesYesYesYesYes (via G Suite)Yes
Interactive Polling / QuizzesYesYes (using MS Forms)YesYesNoYes
Breakout SessionsYesYes (manual process of creating breakout Channels for each group)YesYesNoYes
AnalyticsYesYes (via PowerSuite)YesYesYes (via G Suite)Yes
AccessibilityYesYesYesYesYesYes
Control Remote ScreensYes:
Instructor or Delegate
YesYesYesNo
Mobile AppYesYesYesYesYesYes
LMS IntegrationYesYes (LMS365)YesYesYes
Trust Radius Score8.9 / 10
TrustRadius Review
8.3 / 10
TrustRadius Review
8.2 / 10
TrustRadius Review
No Score for GoToTraining
GoToMeeting Score 7.9 / 10
TrustRadius Review
8.4 / 10
TrustRadius Review
7.5 / 10
TrustRadius Review
Pros- User Friendly UI
- Free Version is widely used privately
- Scalable for small to large businesses
- Organisations with MS365 will have MS Teams, so no additional deployment required
- Great for collaboration outside the training session
- Single click to join meeting
- Call Me Feature
- Well-known product in business
Cons- Web Client doesn't have full functionality, i.e. screen share
- Free plan caps meetings at 40 minutes
- Steep learning curve
- Not a dedicated online training tool so some workarounds required
- UI can be confusing
- Sharing of recorded sessions outside organisation not straightforward
- Meeting set-up can be complex when using Advanced Features
- Plug-ins can prevent delegates from easily joining

Conclusion

All of the applications we’ve reviewed offer very similar and comparable functionality for virtual training delivery. There isn’t really a clear winner that stands out from the crowd or covers all situations, unless you can advise us otherwise. If you adopt any of these applications, then we’re sure that you will have an adequate virtual training delivery solution for your business.

The key is to find the solution that is simplest to implement in terms of technology and doesn’t require a steep learning curve for your users. For organisations that do not have any web conferencing applications, Zoom or Webex would be solid choices. However if an organisation already uses MS365 or G Suite then MS Teams or Google Meet may be a better fit, because they’re already familiar with these products. Likewise, organisations that use the Adobe Creative suite may decide to go with Adobe Connect as it is easier to implement technology that is already familiar to the users.

We’re really keen to find out what your organisation has tried and / or adopted. What have you found most successful, and why? Did you find any drawbacks with particular solutions? We look forward to continuing this investigation with you online… Please offer us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Jamie Blacoe

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