IT labs allow IT learners to experiment with real products and technologies in a sandbox environment. Virtual IT training labs are cloud-based training programs that provide a controlled environment for learners to interact with the development tools they will use in the real world. When companies use virtual IT labs, software and tools are provided for learners to train without negatively affecting actual applications.
Virtual IT labs have several use cases that make them valuable to organizations:
Employee product training: When you incorporate new technologies and newly-updated existing software into your workflows, your employees need to learn how to use them. Virtual labs allow your employees to learn how to use them quickly so training doesn’t bog down your workflows. You don’t have to waste time waiting for IT to configure training sessions since virtual labs are cloud-based.
Developer code testing: Virtual IT labs allow developers to test a new API, SDK, or programming language without having to worry about setting up an environment themselves. They can set up a virtual lab as a sandbox environment to troubleshoot and debug software without the risk of damaging the live system. They can also use the virtual lab to test codes for new software.
Partner training: Your partners no longer have to install software on individual devices or make arrangements to meet with your trainer in person. Virtual IT labs only require an internet connection and a web browser, and the powerful cloud servers enable them to do complex tasks no matter how old their OS is.
Generate leads and close sales: Many companies — especially those selling complex software applications — have difficulty closing sales because potential customers can’t understand the value of the product and how to use it. When you use a virtual training lab, your buyer can take your software for a test drive and see how it benefits them. You can develop online IT practice labs free of charge for them to use, which can easily convert them into hot leads and close deals much faster, increasing your passive lead generation.
End-user training: Organizations can use virtual IT labs to let their potential customers experience the software that they will end up using in a sandbox environment. They can complete hands-on training without worrying about messing up their product.
You can also use IT labs for new hire onboarding, skills development, post-sales training, and reducing support tickets and churn.
IT Labs Online
Completing IT labs online offers many advantages. You reduce costs because you no longer have to keep a physical lab, invest resources into IT, or pay for travel to training sessions. They can scale to meet substantial training demands without losing quality, whether you have small groups or thousands of learners. Learners are no longer required to show up to a physical location to access training; they can access hands-on IT labs from anywhere at any time as long as they have an internet connection and a web browser. This also means that they can really dive deeper into course content since they can access the lab outside of class.
So how do you find the best online IT labs? There are a number of factors to consider before you make your decision. First, you should consider your budget. Ask yourself: How much do I want to spend per user or on the lab solution as a whole? If you want to invest as little as possible, you may consider searching for free virtual IT labs. You may also find that some IT lab platforms like Skytap offer pay-as-you-go pricing options so you only pay for what you actually use. This may be the best option if you’re willing to pay for high-quality training, but don’t want to make any unnecessary expenditures. Others may have a monthly subscription pricing model, while others follow a license pricing model and charge a flat fee for a certain period of time.
Next, you should define your goals so you know exactly what solution you need. Ask yourself what skills you want your learners to adopt and what type of program you want them to complete. Pay attention to the description of the IT labs you are considering, collecting important details such as the content information, duration, capabilities, industry, and purpose of the course.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down based on these questions, you should consider how you want your students to learn. Would you prefer that they complete the training independently on their own time? Do your learners learn best in a group setting? Do they need a live virtual instructor to teach and help them, or can they learn the information on their own? There are IT solutions for each of these situations, so it’s important to choose one that is best for your company. This is an important factor to consider when trying to tailor your IT lab to your learners.
Finally, you need to pay attention to what the product offers. The product should first and foremost provide an excellent user experience for both instructors and buyers and customers. Providing an easy, enjoyable user experience for consumers allows them to experience the value of your software, which drives product adoption. Instructors need a lab platform that makes it easy to create labs, is easy to use and manage and offers workflows that save time. There should be no need for IT intervention, and all labs should be run in a standard wall browser.
Virtual IT Labs
Virtual IT labs give learners the hands-on experience they need to skillfully use new software and tools in real-life scenarios, and it offers many benefits over traditional IT learning. Traditional software training methods had a number of disadvantages. Learners had to sit together in a classroom, listen to lectures, and consume overwhelming amounts of information within a set time period. These traditional methods of learning are ineffective, time-consuming, complicated to manage, and expensive to set up and run.
Traditional classroom-based, instructor-led training also didn’t provide an adequate IT lab environment for learners to get hands-on experience — the most important part of IT learning. It’s difficult to understand how software and products work or retain information about them when you simply read books, listen to lectures with PowerPoints, and watch software videos and simulations. Instructors also have to spend more time fixing technological problems instead of helping learners.
Virtual labs for IT training, on the other hand, provide an immersive, engaging, hands-on learning experience using the same scenarios and software that they’ll use in their daily work. When learners use virtual labs, learning software and receiving technical training becomes engaging enough for them to pay attention and retain information. They give learners an excellent lab environment with groups of physical and/or virtual computers set up to develop or test applications. Instructors can set up sandbox environments so they can experiment as much as they need to without worrying about damaging existing applications and IT infrastructure. Instructors can focus on offering advice on sandbox scenarios instead of fixing technological issues.
There are many other benefits to virtual training. Virtual training delivers an outstanding learning experience. Learners can complete their training at their own pace and in their own time. If there are sections of the course that they need to spend more time on, they are free to do so. They can also learn how to use the software and its features more effectively since they work in a realistic setting. This helps them understand exactly how the product will improve how they complete their work in their day-to-day real jobs.
Furthermore, virtual IT labs allow you to provide your learners with personalized cloud-based training. All it takes is a click of a button for you to create as many scenarios as you need. You don’t have to get help from IT since you’ll have access to different versions for each state, so you can focus on helping your students. You can tailor your courses to each individual learner, providing beginner and advanced courses so learners can start at varying entry points.
Virtual IT labs also include built-in analytics features so instructors can track important metrics to measure your training impact. You can see how many times each student accessed their course and how many labs have been started from a course. You can access learners’ labs remotely to track their progress and help them with any problems or questions.
The many benefits of virtual IT labs make them an invaluable tool to any company or group seeking IT training. Virtual IT training reduces costs, provides hands-on learning for students, and increases student engagement and success.
Skytap is an excellent solution for organizations seeking to train their customers, partners, and employees. Skytap offers both self-paced and instructor-led training so learners can choose the best learning style for them. You can create personalized learning programs that are most beneficial to your learners, whether they are beginners, advanced, or independent learners. Skytap eliminates the need for professional IT support so you can focus on what’s truly important — your students. By using Skytap Virtual IT Labs you will provide powerful, scalable training that can accelerate product adoption, improve customer retention, and increase profits.
Want to see Skytap in action? Read this case study to discover how BeyondTrust is able to save time by automating the provisioning of virtual labs, integrate seamlessly with its LMS, and deliver strong connection speeds to better serve students using Skytap.