In today’s remote environment, following a traditional shadowing or “on the job” (OTJ) training model is challenging, if not impossible.  As a result, many companies are focusing on technology investments to allow users to become more accustomed to virtual learning. In addition to Zoom, Teams, and other remote meeting platforms, we’ve seen increasing interest in using other technologies for training.  As an example, Walmart uses virtual reality (VR) to teach employees to handle Black Friday crowd control and confrontations during peak sale periods.

Even with new technologies, traditional training approaches often fail to teach users how to interpret results and absorb the content to perform their jobs. This is where the distinction between training and learning begins.

Understanding the Difference Between Training and Learning

Training and learning are very different. Training is event-based while learning should be continual. Oftentimes we hear corporate leaders lament that, even though their team completed the training, they still don’t understand their job. Adult learners need time to absorb, learn, and practice what they were taught.

When developing a training strategy for our clients, we often employ both formal and informal activities—many of which are now virtual. While probably not ideal, virtual training—or learning—is sometimes the only viable option in our current environment. Further, it is much more cost-effective.

Beyond delivering the training content, sustainment and follow-up activities are critical to ensure users fully comprehend the material, embed it into their long-term memories, and can use it in their jobs. A comprehensive virtual learning strategy incorporates many different elements. Engaging e-learning courses, bite-sized learning activities, lunch & learn virtual events, and even a podcast or two top the learning list. Further, offering labs, workshops, and quick reference guides (QRGs) are often helpful in the retention of content.