Many training organizations are turning to cloud-based labs to expand their training programs. The advantages of virtual computer labs include reduced training cost, fewer IT resources, and the ability to rapidly provide training to a geographically dispersed learner base. But, what about the learning experience? As it turns out, in addition to the business advantages of virtual training labs, there are significant learning benefits of cloud-based labs.
Successful technical training requires a hands-on element to facilitate knowledge retention. L&D research has revealed that learners forget 70 percent or more of what they’re taught through more traditional training methods such as lecture or demonstration. Whereas, learners who master skills through participation retain almost 75 percent of what they are taught. The virtual learning environment provided in a cloud-based lab allows students to gain this vital hands-on experience.
Learning by Making Mistakes
There are plenty of scholarly articles to support the value of “errors”. Many purport: to make mistakes is a way learners explore and develop valuable problem-solving skills. Virtual training labs with save state options provide a unique opportunity for students to learn from errors. This is particularly valuable to those developing in coding environments and manipulating data to create behaviors and actions. ‘Save state’ options allows learners more free experimentation without risking the environment. Having the flexibility to go backward and forward in a technical environment allows learners to better understand how mistakes can impact a system.
Some lab environments, like MicroTek’s Virtual Training Lab, offer post-class access. This is particularly beneficial for learners looking to reinforce what they’ve learned or go back and practice concepts they have not yet mastered. Practice that is not limited by class hours is critical for those who are struggling with specific concepts and can be beneficial for learners who want to skip ahead and keep learning.
Experience with Complex Systems
The cloud-based training environment allows students to work with complex system setups that might not be feasible in a traditional classroom. For example, in a physical classroom, it would be difficult to offer multiple students the ability to simultaneously work with a complex network involving multiple servers, firewalls and workstations with different operating systems. The training would have to rely more heavily on lecture, demonstration and discussion rather than hands-on practice. With a virtual lab, each student is able to work within actual environments, allowing them to learn by doing.
Virtual training labs provide a unique opportunity for training organizations to not only realize considerable cost and business benefits, but also improve learning outcomes of their technical training. Not all virtual labs are created equal. Be sure to research your requirements and work with a provider that offers a lab that is designed for training and will provide the technical and customer support to ensure that your training succeeds.