Virtual classrooms are rapidly rising in popularity, offering schools, universities, individuals, and organizations low-cost yet efficient ways to deliver information and training. Studies by organizations like ATD Research show that 86% of organizations have already implemented some form of digital learning, citing reasons like low cost of development, cheaper cost of deployment, and on-demand access (for some types).

Virtual classrooms extend across digital learning portals with on-demand content, webinars, and video-conference-like classrooms where individuals tune into a lecture from wherever they may be. And, whether for internal learning, bringing in external experts, or taking part in university and college level courses, virtual learning makes employee training accessible. If you’re not using virtual classrooms, or don’t use them enough, the following include compelling reasons why you should.

Virtual Learning is Effective

Studies repeatedly show that virtual training is effective at engaging and holding the attention of learners. Virtual classrooms support blended content, integrated and visual examples, and the ability to test learners as they learn to ensure understanding of material. This makes virtual learning effective for everything from developing leaders with coaching and training or offering on-demand classes to help employees develop technical skills like coding, software usage, or similar.

While keys to engagement remain in motivating employees to learn and fostering collaboration during the program, most digital classrooms make this easy with integrated projects, virtual whiteboards, challenges, and direct interaction with teachers and coaches.

Employees can Easily Fit Virtual Content into Schedules

Asking employees to participate in workshops or training typically means planning projects and schedules so that entire teams can leave work unattended to go to a class workshop, or even a school outside of the workplace. This requires heavy investment from organizations, who must pay for time spent learning, learning material, and changes in work schedules to accommodate travel, physical distance, and material.

Virtual learning means most employees can simply pull out a laptop or go to a designated room in the organization and spend an hour or two a day studying, without the huge impact on their schedule or budget.

Depending on implementation, digital learning is typically either pushed out through portals, such as with organizations like Singularity University or LinkedIn Learning or pushed via classrooms with live teachers, typically working from home or from another location for convenience and cost savings. Each of these has its own perks depending on how you want to deploy learning and what you want people to learn, but in either case, make it simpler and cheaper for employees to attend.

Video Conferencing Makes Experts Accessible

Most organizations prefer to bring in top coaches, leading experts, or people with significant expertise to lead training. Inviting, paying for travel, and hosting these experts typically means creating schedules solely around them, stopping relevant teams completely for the classes, and investing heavily in a few days of education. Video conferencing removes a great deal of the stress and time scarcity, because it’s easier to fit a few hours a day into someone’s schedule than it is to request a few days for in-person training.

Organizations delivering virtual training can more easily integrate prominent lecturers, guest speakers, and coaches, using nothing more than a good video conferencing setup and camera. Modern digital signage solutions also allow for virtual whiteboarding and blackboarding for collaboration and engagement.

While not every expert will be open to giving digital courses and classes, many already do. And, experts inside your own organization will have an easier time fitting training and development into their already busy schedules.

This also applies to employees, who can access coaches and mentors from anywhere, even if they or the coach is traveling for business, at home, or in another organization.

A Cheaper form of Employee Development

Virtual classrooms, whether on-demand digital portals or e-learning via video webinar and casting, are cheaper and more efficient to build and deliver than most other types of training. Most digital classroom content can be prepared in advance, delivered with the help of live speakers or coaches, and mostly reused over and over.

This makes employee onboarding, safety and compliance training, and internal development programs more affordable to deliver scaled across your entire organization.

Of course, developing on-demand video courses isn’t necessarily cheap. Studies show that it takes an average of 27 hours of writing, recording, and preparation to deliver a single hour of on-demand video content. But, most organizations outsource. And, virtual classrooms for live classes and lectures necessitates installing high quality screens, webcams, and microphones to support high quality lessons.

Virtual classrooms allow organizations to integrate employee development, coaching, mentoring, and even onboarding into convenient, accessible training. Individuals can either log on from wherever they are to access live-streamed training and coaching, access on-demand content, or interact with a mix of both depending on implementation and offerings.

This allows you to offer flexible and accessible learning options, to engage with diverse learning options, and to truly track and measure how and what employees are learning. The benefits apply to both organizations and their employees.

At the same time, virtual learning isn’t perfect. Implementation relies on quality technology, quality platforms and portals, and ensuring users understand how and what they’re learning.

Driving engagement often means providing motivation, gamification, and ensuring employees have (paid) time to open laptops to study. At the same time, investing in a continuously developing workforce pays off in terms of innovation, reduced employee turnover, and improved company culture.