Telefónica o2 Germany has tested virtual classroom sessions in its blended learning concept for sales and consulting staff. At ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2010, the company’s e-learning specialist Dr Gwendolin Rugen will share her experience.
Telefónica o2 Germany trains staff in various ways: with classroom teaching, e-learning and blended learning that includes Web-based training sessions, online quizzes and mobile learning units. Early in 2010 the company started pilot testing virtual classroom software provided by WebEx , a collaborative Web-conferencing environment enabling trainers to teach dispersed learners on the Internet. “We wanted to be able to act quickly and more flexibly to our customers’ needs. We wanted to target our learners in various parts of Germany effectively and, above all, save time and travel cost,” said Dr Rugen.
Effective training was needed for the sales and customer service staff who work in shops and call centres. Staff working for o2 retail partners, who often have to run the shops on their own, could not leave their workplace for training. The virtual classroom now gives them an excellent opportunity to incorporate training into their daily routine.
“It is now possible to integrate short learning periods during a workday. While training courses needed travelling and plenty of time, virtual classroom sessions can take place at back offices in the shops. After the session, employees can simply go back to work. Time is money…”
A session in the virtual classroom begins with a maximum of twenty participants in various geographical locations. Each has been personally invited to join a specific live session for a product update or perhaps ‘soft skills development’.
The participants follow a live demonstration by the instructor and ask questions using their PC screens or mobile devices. The instructor maintains a high level of communication to ensure the learners’ engagement and maximise the effectiveness of the training. The session is recorded and made available for everyone later on.
Dr Rugen said, “Before we developed this system, our staff used to have to pick up relevant information from newsletters and PDF files. Now they are actively involved and they can literally see how certain functions work.
“The recorded sessions are also useful for other employees and sometimes they can work like ‘virtual handbooks’.”
Application Sharing Throughout the Business
After the success of the pilot phase, Telefónica O2 Germany extended the use of virtual classrooms into other business areas, to customer service personnel in the company call centres and to administration staff training to use new internal software systems.
Executives follow up on face-to-face management seminars by deepening their knowledge in virtual classroom sessions with live quizzes.
“The virtual classroom is an excellent method of reaching our extremely heterogeneous groups of learners. It improves employee productivity and our employees enjoy taking part. We get very positive feedback. In the future we would like to extend the programme to develop sequential courses.”
At ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2010, Dr. Gwendolin Rugen will present The Virtual Classroom as Part of a Blended-Learning Concept @ Point of Sales as part of the session Innovative Approaches to Boosting Sales and Customer Loyalty which will take place on Thursday, December 2, from 16:30 – 17:30.