You'd be excused for feeling a little queasy if you hear that the pilot of the plane you are on took their training online. We trust that they've also completed hundreds of hours of flight time under the direction and scrutiny of other professional pilots, but when our lives are on the line, that trust doesn't always cut it.
What's more, we interact with professionals who participate in safety training to perform their jobs everyday. From food handling to transportation, we rely on that training, which may have been taken virtually in lieu of hands-on classroom instruction.
When it comes to verifying that a trainee has the knowledge they need to protect you, often the safeguards that institutions put into place don't meet the moment.
Here are a few examples that may not have previously been top of mind.
For years restaurants and bars were over-serving patrons, and the result was more people driving while intoxicated and suffering from the consequences of alcohol abuse. In most jurisdictions, training is now required for this type of job.
Similarly, the CDC reports that the improper handling and preparation of food results in 48 million food poisoning cases, affecting about 1 in 6 US residents each year. It's now common to require safety training that explains the various ways food can become contaminated and how to prevent it.
There are over 50,000 workers injured annually in the US due to unintentional equipment startup accidents, with 120 fatalities. In one case, a New Jersey forklift operator received a $46.7m settlement from his employer for medical conditions resulting from chemical exposure that he wasn't warned about nor trained to prevent.
However, it's not always at risk of life and limb. Sometimes the losses associated with lack of training can take a financial toll on businesses in unforeseen ways.
A 2018 Deloitte study suggested that workplace harassment cost businesses $2.6 billion in lost productivity. Many companies require training to create a productive collaborative work environment and mitigate the risk that they may find themselves in a lawsuit.
Virtual training is becoming a widespread method of managing risk for many organizations in numerous industries and just as common a way of demonstrating regulatory compliance and legal, due diligence. Even before COVID-19 lockdowns, virtual training was quickly becoming a popular alternative to the old in-class model.
But it hasn't been all roses. What's our new worry? With the popularization of virtual training, a new set of challenges has undermined education quality. When I said I was nervous about my daughter's safety training, it's because I want her to know what is necessary to protect herself and others. We understand that the distraction of phones, friends, and family can sometimes impede that focus, even at the hands of the most diligent student. Students may not be watching the training. They could be watching TV, texting, sleeping, or caring for family members (an otherwise admirable distraction if it didn't mean jeopardizing the safety of others). The instructors' inability to be present with trainees has paralyzed businesses and increased the likelihood of being held liable for a preventable mishap. They can't guarantee the student was present, engaged, and capable of operationalizing their learnings.
Integrity Advocate has created a blended AI-powered but human-verified technology that ensures presence and participation for virtual training to combat this outcome. We help ensure high-risk industries utilizing online training and assessments can count on those online activities' mitigative value. So, while we should embrace the convenience of virtual training, it's become more critical than ever that we create engaging learning experiences and that these experiences are monitored and verified by better technology.