Why Trainers are Turning to Webinars

Webinars have been available and in use for many years in the workplace, but the pace of adoption has quickened in recent years. Live web-based events are now seen as a key ingredient of training programs – an ingredient that is beginning to equal the importance of other approaches – and we can now say for certain that it is beginning to displace live training events.

A survey conducted by Wainhouse Research explored 533 trainer attitudes concerning the relationship between a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools, as well as the impact of webinars on live, in-person training.  Here are some of the results:

How Have Your Methods for Delivering Training Courses Changed?

Respondents were asked how their methods of delivering training courses have changed over the past year. This question was designed to gauge the perceived impact of webinars and other technologies on how organizations deliver training, and the results were very clear. While the growth rate of asynchronous tools (e.g., email, online workspaces and labs, and LMS/CMS products), videoconferencing, and audio conferencing were all relatively flat over the previous year there was an almost direct relationship between the use of webinars as a substitute for in-person training. Webinars increased 14% within a 12-month period, which directly corresponded to the reduction of 13% stated for in-person training.

How Have Webinars Affected Your Training Offerings?

Wainhouse Research also asked respondents how webinars have affected training offerings. The goal of this question was to gain a more nuanced assessment of the impact of webinars on the missions of training organizations.  The ability to include learners who could not attend previously was given as the single greatest impact of webinars on training offerings – 63% used webinars to reach more learners. A total of 56% used webinars to reach geographies not previously reachable. Half (50%) used them to replace in-person courses and almost that many (45%) used them to enable new courses. And 41% use webinars to achieve new types of learning objectives.

The ability to include new learners or reach new geographies is consistent with an easily-understandable benefit of a webinar. The fact that almost half of the trainers surveyed use them to enable new courses, and two out of five to achieve new learning objectives, is a particularly significant finding. It is one thing to use technology as an alternative to current practices. It becomes an entirely different story to “go beyond” and use it to find new purposes. Learning organizations are under constant pressure to adapt to changing needs (new products, new policies, new employee training needs) and these numbers suggest that more than 2 out of 5 organizations are using webinars to refine and further their missions and approaches.

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