A major problem in remote training is student evaluation.
How does the trainer know whether the student has really understood the material or ot ? It is easier to evaluate in a direct instructor-led class - by asking questions and by the trainees' responses and body language.
But in a remote training session, the trainees are thousands of miles away. Often they do not have a microphone or webcam and prefer to type their questions/responses in a chat window (atleast in my experience). And often, the trainees are sitting next to each other in an office at a faraway location. Even if they are not sitting next to each other, they probably know each others' email address and can easily communicate behind the trainer's back.
How does the trainer know if the trainees are giving individual answers or getting answers from their classmates ?
How does the trainer make sure trainees are not collaborating on the exam questions ?
Are the homework answers from one student simply copied from another student, with some cosmetic changes (font size, drawings etc) ?
It is a very convenient thing to believe in the honour system - to claim that, in a multinational company, employees are too professional to indulge in such malpractices. While this logic is politically correct, it is not foolproof.
When real business results depend on training, it is simply not practical to depend on the honour system. Let's face it - everyone has plenty of demands on their time today and the temptation to take a colleague's exam answer and pass it off as one's own could be too big to resist.
Without a foolproof method to evaluate trainees and qualify them, training is a waste of resources.
So how can students be evaluated in remote training ?
1) Make it mandatory for every trainee to have a microphone and webcam - and use it in the training session. It is much easier for the trainer to evaluate the trainee by asking questions real-time and forcing the trainee to answer verbally instead of typing answers. Also, this makes it difficult for the trainee to consult with classmates before answering. I certainly concede that it is still possible for the trainee to get help from classmates, but atleast it becomes more difficult.
2) Have multiple sets of questions for evaluation, so that trainees get different questions with respect to their colleagues. Again, this will not prevent trainees from helping out each other on exams, but atleast it makes it more difficult to cheat.
3) Have a viva-voce exam with the trainer interviewing the student on a 1:1 basis. But the downside is this is very time-consuming for the trainer, and scheduling the oral exams can be a nightmare. One workaround is to have a local resource person in the same office as the trainee who can administer the oral exam and evaluate.
4) Wherever possible make the evaluation something like a case-study or an individual project, with completely different topics for individual trainees.
If you have any thoughts on this, please leave a comment.