The idea of virtual learning is nothing new. Thomson Reuters has delivered the classroom experience to individual users for several years. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic causing government leaders to order non-essential employers and services to close their doors, companies have moved to a remote model. The same applies to schools, which began promoting remote learning opportunities.
That makes it a good time to look at the benefits of virtual learning, especially in a professional setting. Many workers and their employers are discovering the value of remote learning out of necessity – and finding many advantages that you can easily apply to your own professional situation.
More benefits of virtual learning: you choose when and where
When you attend a traditional conference or seminar, the event host chooses what gets presented to you. That is not the case with virtual learning.
If you (or your team) needs to acquire knowledge – whether it is continuing professional education for CPAs, compliance education for lawyers or any other learning experience in any profession – you control your access to the event with your own schedule (and not the other way around).
The convenience of online education means it fits your life and your schedule. Some weeks are busier than others with work projects, so you can adjust the learning schedule so you can focus on and prioritize your tasks at hand.
While some online classes meet at a set time (this is known as an asynchronous class), the flexibility allows you to mesh the course with your personal schedule. Additionally, you can learn at your own pace. Usually, you can go back and review an item more than once, giving you the chance to fully grasp a concept before moving on to something new.
If you have a laptop, PC or tablet and a good Wi-Fi connection, you can take part in online learning.
Another growing directive is providing accessibility to all. There are legitimate concerns of equal access for those who are physically challenged or have other health issues. Across all segments of society, more students and workers are disclosing a variety of medical disabilities than previously indicated, showing an increased need to reach those persons.
Lower costs, thanks to no travel or hotel expenses
If you have never participated in distance learning, opting instead for traditional conferences and seminars, your wallet is in for a big surprise.
Your transportation costs? Gone. No need to book a flight, then grab a rental car or fetch an Uber ride from the airport.
Lodging? It does not get much more cost effective than sleeping in your own bed.
Meals and entertainment? Well, put away the company credit card if you have one. You’re home, so none of this is a concern.
And those are all expenses before you even step into your conference or seminar. So take those elements right out of the equation and it’s pretty obvious to see the financial benefits of virtual learning.
Peer-to-peer learning extends your professional network
Another benefit of virtual learning is meeting new people. Even beyond the classroom, you may learn with others with similar skills and professional standards.
By nature, successful professionals improve themselves by surrounding themselves with like-minded achievers. They gravitate professionally to colleagues who are adept in their line of work, no matter what it is. And it goes both ways.
Not only can you pick the brain of others who teach or participate in distance learning, but they may want to know what you can bring to the table. Once you realize there are many others like you – and you both have skills that can help each other – you will be able to grow your professional network beyond the day of the online course.
Be sure to interact with other participants when you are able. Then, connect with them on LinkedIn or another social media platform. You already have your icebreaker out of the way, which is the first step to networking.
An opportunity to learn from subject matter experts
There’s a reason you are engaging in remote learning: You want to improve yourself in one form or another, right? Well, if you choose your remote learning opportunities wisely, you will connect with people who are experts in their field.
Obviously, if they are smart enough to lead a course from which you need to gather knowledge, wouldn’t it make sense if you paid close attention to what they had to say? You’ll also get a feel for the person leading your remote learning event. It’s one thing to read about the thoughts of someone who addresses pertinent topics in your profession, but it’s another to hear from them and get a real understanding of who they are and how much they know.
A good teacher will be able to project this depth of knowledge, whether it is in person or through remote learning.
Become more comfortable working in a virtual environment
Be honest: Before COVID-19 turned our home offices into our primary workplace, how often did you use online tools? You may have used these tools pretty regularly, or you may have been a novice when thrust into ‘the new normal.’
One thing is certain: There is a very good chance that even the most inexperienced remote worker gained some pointers in terms of how to navigate a virtual workplace.
The same goes for getting used to the surroundings of a virtual classroom. You are actually sharpening your virtual proficiency.
As there will be a push toward more online events in the foreseeable future, it is worth being ready for the digital world.
Instantly take new skills from the classroom to the workplace
Remember back in high school when you found yourself saying, ‘Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to use it.’ Well, that is not the case with virtual learning.
Because you have a greater choice over what courses you are taking, there is a very strong chance you will be able to rapidly test out what you learn in your virtual classroom in your day-to-day workplace.
In other words, you don’t have time to forget what you have learned. How often can you apply classroom lessons to the real world so quickly? This is an often overlooked benefit of virtual learning.
Risk reduction means almost no unplanned disruptions
Events like the COVID-19 outbreak have taught us uncertainty can very easily – and understandably – push aside the best-laid plans. Think about the number of cancellations that have taken place because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It does not take much to unravel a schedule.
Unless you lose your Wi-Fi access or your laptop suddenly conks out, you are free to dial in and learn, any time of the day or night.
Of course, in an era where life during and after a pandemic may affect one’s desire to go out in public and physically interact with people from all over the map, the opportunity to earn your continuing education or learn a new skill from the comfort of your own home or office will put you at ease.
Even after health restrictions and social distancing ease up, some professionals will find many elements of the remote world they never realized existed (or, had no real need to explore) are quite a bit more mainstream than ever imaginable.
It’s apparent the events of recent months have opened everyone’s eyes to the value of the digital workplace, which also includes the benefits of virtual learning.
Become more skilled and gain valuable CPE in a manner that fits your schedule, in the comfort of your own working environment. Choose from webinars or online coursework set with your convenience in mind. Learn more >