Which online learning method do I choose?

Choosing to go online with your learning of course has become a requirement for L&D teams over last year but hopefully at the same time opened up new opportunity for your organisation too.  The ability to provide easy to access training to more employees, including on-demand, from any location and even across time zones can only prove beneficial to all involved.

However how do you know you have the right online training for your organisation’s learning needs? Whether online learning has always been part of your L&D strategy, now forever part of it due to the last year’s events or you are still thinking if it’s right for you; it can be overwhelming assessing which tools, platform and content will deliver on your needs.

With so many options available it’s worth thinking carefully about what will suit you and organisation’s requirements. Would this change based on training subject or remain consistent for all your learning? Here’s a brief overview of the different approaches:

Off the shelf e-learning

You are looking for e-learning which already exists and you can provide to your company immediately. These e-learning providers will either add to your LMS (Learning Management System) using SCORM or Tin Can or will provide their own platform.  Very popular for compliant and mandatory training, as well as for companies with limited budgets.

Bespoke e-learning

Also, known as customer or tailored e-learning. Suppliers will build a custom piece of e-learning for the client in the style and fit that they want.

From physical to online training

Transferring your existing internal classroom training into an e-learning solution. Ideal to create a blended learning approach.

Our training providers can deliver online training covering a broad range of business subjects including Management, Remote WorkingWellbeingIT training and more.

Virtual classroom training

Different from standard e-learning in that virtual learning will run in real time and feature a trainer who is delivering the session remotely. This can be as simple as creating excellent learning webinars or something more technical.

Video learning

An excellent way of providing scenarios which grabs and keeps attention.  There is a wide mix – from office type scenarios through to providers offering short 2-3 minute videos.  Covering a full range of subjects including Microsoft Office,  Management,  Wellbeing and more.

Content curation

If you have an LMS and want additional content then you could work with training providers to develop content to compliment your existing e-learning portfolio.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR has risen in popularity in recent years, especially in the gaming sector where it’s now mainstream method.  So what does this mean for L&D?  This is the big question.

Knowing when to use VR for learning,  measuring effectiveness and a lack of knowledge are holding back VR implementation.  Working with a selected number of VR and AR specialists, we can advise you on how to make the most of it and really dazzle your organisation with innovative learning.

Machine learning

Machine learning is not a new concept.  It’s only now that the technological capability to practically support the theory exists.  Data mining and learning analytics make it easier than ever to mine learning activity.

As an independant managed learning services provider we work with our clients to understand their online learning strategy, compare the market of online learning providers and make recommendations based on learning needs and suitable delivery approach.

Contact us if you want to chat more about your online learning options.

Announcing a new online video training partnership

We are pleased to announce a new partnership with online video training specialist Mi Crow.

Mi Crow provides online video training to help your employees to learn new skills when they want in just 3 minutes.

Their on-demand video library consists of over 500 online training courses for:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • Excel, Outlook, Sharepoint, Yammer and more
  • Remote Working
  • Mental Health
  • Cyber Security
  • Leadership & Management
  • Customer Service
  • Selling Skills
  • How to be successful

They also provide ’60 seconds of genius’ an extensive library of video-based tips, tricks and hacks that your employees will crave.

You can watch some examples of their content:  Working remotely ,  What Teams can do you for you and Being positive is contagious.

The portal

All of the content is hosted on their online learning portal and works great on desktop and mobile devices.

Video training screenshot

An easy way to provide blended learning

The online video training content can provide useful content for employees to access as part of a wider blended learning strategy.  Its perfect content to provide to employees before any formal face to face or online sessions.  Use the content to reinforce learning from the sessions.

It’s perfect for employees to use to spend just a few minutes each day learning something new, keeping motivated and improving their ability to perform at higher levels.

Special pricing

We are able to offer an exclusive special offer.   You’ll receive:

  • Unlimited content
  • New videos every month
  • Quick access and set up

All of this is currently only £2,500 + VAT per year.

We only have a limited number of licenses available at this price.

For a free demo contact us at info@optimuslearningservices.com or call 0845 519 7408



Running virtual and online learning classrooms live Q&A


Jo Cook, the online learning specialist from Lightbulb Moments, provides her expertise on running virtual classrooms in a live Q&A.  Jo provides a range of content and online sessions designed to help people and trainers deliver excellent online training, webinars and virtual classrooms.

The session was wonderful, with lots of varied questions covering practical tips when sharing powerpoints,  user engagement,  the importance of breaks and getting users to participate on a regular basis.

The session was recorded and you can access this below.


She has created a new program aimed at helping people deliver online learning and facilitation now.

Its a two-hour live session facilitated by Jo for up to 15 attendees and provides the content to ensure you have the skills to deliver online and virtual classroom sessions now.   Delivered via Zoom or your own platform its for facilitators with limited or no live online experience and need to start delivering as soon as possible.

If you need assistance or want to improve your online delivery and would like to know more get in touch for a free consultancy chat to determine what approach is best for you.

You can contact J0 via email jo@lightbulbmoment.info or call her on 07970 101 554.   Just mention Optimus to her when you call.

Happy learning.







A guide to Virtual Classroom Training

If you are looking at digital learning and want to learn more about virtual classroom training, we’ve put together this short guide to help you.

Virtual classroom training aka Virtual Instructor-led training (VILT for short) has been available for a while. It’s only over the past few years that appetite for it has increased. 

Both terms refer to training that is delivered in virtual or simulated environments, with trainers delivering training to participants in separate locations.

The benefits of such an approach are often highlighted as saving time and money on travel. However, this undersells the approach and delivery method. There are other benefits.


Pros of virtual classroom training

Consistency – Virtual classroom training helps provide consistency of training to a wider audience. Allowing dispersed office employees can get the same access to training as those in the head office.

Connects remote employees – for remote and geographically dispersed teams this can be a wonderful experience to spend time with colleagues.

Convenience – can access virtual classroom training in the most suitable environment – be at home, at the office or hiring a quiet space to learn.

Part of a blended approach – Virtual classroom training can be mixed with face to face classroom .  For example, attending classroom training for the first part of the course before attending remotely for the rest of the time.

Time-efficient – reducing time spent travelling to training centres.   

Quality – you have the same access to expert trainers, labs, breakout rooms that you’d have on a face to face course.

Easy to use – popular platforms such as WebEx, Zoom, Adobe Connect for virtual classroom make it easy for attendees to access

Repeatable – sessions can be recorded allowing you to access the content after the initial session.

Better environmentally – reduced travels means a lower carbon footprint. 

Overcomes a lack of quality alternatives – if you are a major city or business hub then chances are there will be quality training providers close by.


Common myths

I need amazing internet – yes you need to have good bandwidth and thankfully the majority of home wifi speeds are more than sufficient.

I’ll be staring at the screen all day – whilst virtual classroom training is delivered via screen you will have activities to do away from the screen,  in small teams as well as regular breaks.  Most office based employees spend all day starting at screens anyway.

It’s hard learning alone – trainers will invest more time in engaging with everyone,  creating breakout sessions and ensuring all attendees are involved.

It will be complicated – virtual classroom systems have improved significantly in the past few years, simplifying the process of logging in and accessing relevant information.

Not every subject suits this approach ­– absolutely.  For practical hands on training e.g. working at heights, operating machinery virtual classroom training isn’t relevant.  However for topics like IT, MS Office,  Project Management, Business Analysis and more virtual classroom training is an excellent option. 


“I was a bit nervous about my first Virtual Classroom training course, however, I needn’t have worried.  The trainer handled the class extremely well.  I have enjoyed the course and taken a large amount of information from it” Andrew, Payment Services


Preparing for virtual classroom training

Will I need specialist equipment?    The short answer is no; however, you will need Wi-Fi with good bandwidth, plus headphones and microphones.  If you will be doing a lot of virtual classroom training, then we’d recommend investing in USB headphones.

How many screens will I need? It’s advisable (and in some courses, especially technical IT) to have an additional screen to allow you to do the remote labs, reference material open whilst you see the training on the main screen

Do I need IT permission?  Maybe. Check the platform isn’t blocked by any firewalls as soon as possible – ideally once booked.  You don’t want to find out 15 minutes before you start that IT doesn’t permit the platform.

Make sure you won’t be interrupted.  Choose a suitable space,  let your colleagues know and turn off all possible distractions. 


So, what should I do?

We always recommend choosing the right learning method and approach to achieve development goals.  This is rarely a single approach.   Therefore, virtual classroom training should form part of your overall strategy.  

Popular virtual classroom training topics have been more focused on IT subjects such as Amazon WebSphere (AWS), Azure, Cisco, Citrix, CompTIA, ITIL, Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware, MS Office and 365.

However, with his new normal we have seen more demand for virtual classroom subjects such as Time Management, Wellbeing, Working from home, Emotional Intelligence, Leading Virtual Teams, Resilience,  Collaboration and Creative Thinking.

If you are looking at digital learning and want to learn more about virtual classroom training or have subjects you want supplier recommendations for then get in touch with us.   Email info@optimuslearningservices.com or call 0845 519 7408

Training subjects booked – March 2020

We are pleased to say that as part of our Managed Learning Services we’ve been able to help our clients switch from planned face to face training to virtual delivery. Some training subjects don’t suit a virtual format – manual handling and working at heights are two that spring to mind.

Training subjects that we’ve organised during March 2020 include:

Remote working

Feeling organised and in control – 1 hour weekly webinars to “drip” feed knowledge and working behaviour

Managing remote teams – pilot virtual session for payments company as part of a European wide project (planned before COVID-19)

Mental health awareness – Zoom webinar sessions delivered to help company employees adjust to working from home.

IT Departments

ITIL Foundation v4 – Virtual Delivery for a logistics company

Scrum.org ScrumMaster – first Virtual Classroom delivery for a fintech company

Microsoft Azure Solutions – virtual classrooms for payments company

VMware vSphere Skills for Operators – face to face public scheduled courses

Systems Operations on AWS – in-house training for group of employees at financial services company.

Microsoft Office

Custom Excel training – 2 hour workshops – face to face initially and now converted into virtual classrooms for global insurance brokers

Microsoft Teams – free session for small company needing to deliver virtual training but with strict firewalls and restrictions

Personal Development

Spanish Business Language training for global insurance brokers

Creating win-win situations – negotiation and influencing skills for large manufacturing and research company


If you have any training subjects you need to organise, switch to virtual delivery or need to find suitable providers get in touch via email or call us 0845 519 7408

Training subjects booked – Feb 2020

Training subjects that we’ve organised during February 2020 include:

  • Self Awareness for Managers
  • GDPR and Data Protection Awareness for 150 Housing Association employees
  • Mental Health Awareness – in-house training for Pharmaceutical company
  • Professional Scrum Master – in-house training and public workshops in Maidenhead, Copenhagen and India
  • Presentation Skills – for managers of a European Shopping Centre company.
  • Making the most of your time – a continuation of a larger programme for London based retail company.
  • Excel training – custom modular sessions for global insurance brokers
  • Agile Project Management – for payments company
  • Microsoft Mobility and Devices Fundamentals – specialist Microsoft training for a IT Managed Service company in Wales.
  • Value Stream Mapping – lean management technique for a global Manufacturing company based in Essex.
  • Team Building for remote based managers – helping people recognise different cultures and working practices for team spread across Europe.
  • CompTIA A+ Certification Bootcamp – for well known insurance company
  • Unix Shell, RedHat Linux and Solaris 11 System Administration – for a recently created team within Payment Services company in London

This is just a selection of training organised this month. For a longer list of training subjects, see our “training subjects we source” page.

Asking us to source training is simple – call or email us with your training requirement, we will discuss and then start pulling together recommendations from our approved supplier list (currently over 1500 suppliers).

Call: 0845 519 7408 Email: info@optimuslearningservices.com

Connecting the dots – How to find an external trainer

Providing training to employees is a challenge,  providing high-quality training using external trainers and training providers is even more challenging.

Its common to hear of L&D departments being under pressure – justification of spend,  existence and having to get instant results are just a few complaints we hear.  Naturally, L&D feel like they cannot get anything wrong. 

Therefore, using external trainers and providers becomes a big deal.

Bringing an external trainer to deliver in-house training is a great opportunity.  It allows new ideas, thought processes and observations.  Attendees may open more to a stranger,  share problems and what’s going well.

But the challenge is that the trainer must “fit in”,  mirror L&D and/or the business culture, and often never dare to dream of challenging anyone (yes, I have been given those instructions from a client on more than one occasion).

If you’ve never had to use external trainers or training providers or have years of experience, the following checklist will be useful for you.

Define the change you want to see happen – behavioural change, knowledge gain, compliance.  Make sure you have an over-riding goal that you can refer to post-training.

Create a clear brief – to include the above in as much detail as possible.  What should any trainer need to know,  avoid, what are you looking for in a trainer, what is the company culture,  job levels of attendees,  their experience.   The clearer this is the better your selection process and outcome

Have selection criteria – you don’t need to share this but you must know what you want to see, hear, have evidence of.  Don’t be shy, you are the buyer.

Your expectations from a trainer – what do you want.  What level experience do they have as a trainer,  working in your industry, as a working professional?  What have they done before to help solve similar problems / achieve similar goals?   What’s their subject matter expertise? 

Trainer personality and style – training is a personal experience, so this is important.  Will they work with the attendee’s expectations?  Will they “fit” with your culture?  What’s their approach and methods.

Proof – what testimonials, references do they have?  Do they have any videos of themselves delivering training?  Or from happy clients?  

Work with specialists – Be wary of trainers who do it all.   At Optimus, we ask trainers for their top 5 subjects they love to work on.  We ask for specifics so “management” is never a good enough answer – what level of management we ask?  So, dig deeper.

Demand to speak with trainers – If approaching a training provider, especially one of any size, then it’s likely you’ll be speaking with a salesperson and not the trainer.  Don’t let that happen.  If the provider doesn’t offer a chat with the trainer before you make a commitment, then drop them from your shortlist.   We do.

Due diligence – do the background checks – financial, insurance, working checks (if in government/with children).  

What feedback they provide – Not only the happy sheets but what happens during the session.  Was there any general behavioural patterns,  trends or demands for more time spent on a certain topic, or feedback on working processes.  Useful insights for you.

Trust – last of the list but a vital component of our selection criteria.  Can you trust the trainer to fulfil your objectives and work with you?   If you have any doubts, explore them and if they are still there then consider beginning the process again or speaking to others.

Contingency plan – have a plan B in case anything goes wrong.   And act on it quickly.  If a trainer is doing something unexpected in the session which is getting negative feedback, then get them to change.  It’s always good to have a backup for the trainer and prepare for the worst-case scenario.  Like an insurance policy.

The above takes time but its worth spending this time to get the right solution.  

If you are struggling to find good quality providers,  Optimus can help.  We have over 30 years’ combined experience doing exactly this.    Get in touch with us at info@optimuslearningservices.com  or call us on 0845 519 7408

In-house training increasing in demand

We’ve seen a significant increase in demand from our clients for trainers to deliver in-house training and workshops.

All business training subjects can be delivered in-house whether virtual or face-to-face. We asked our clients why they chose in-house training workshops and their responses are below, plus some of our own thoughts too!

Develop team and department capability

To avoid having one person as the font of knowledge, companies are looking at developing teams capability.

“We are adopting ITIL as our IT Service Management methodology. We need to ensure the team has a common understanding of how we use it.”

Bespoke content is better than generic 

In-house training allows for the trainer to adapt their content to better suit your individual organisation.

“It’s much better when our employees are able to discuss our internal workings,  and use actual work examples within the sessions. This has been really useful when we ran the session for our salespeople to understand the nuances of our financial management.” 

Using the budgets better

The cost of sending an individual on a public course is relatively high compared to running in-house sessions. By bringing a trainer to deliver workshops internally the cost per person reduces significantly.

” We were sending individuals onto management programmes costing us a substantial amount of money. When Optimus helped us to replicate the workshop and run it in-house (using one of their approved trainers) the cost per head went down considerably.”

When e-learning isn’t working 

Giving people e-learning and non-workshop content as a standalone solution doesn’t always work. It’s too easy sometimes for people to put off e-learning, prioritising business activities ahead of time spent on learning. Some employees also missed the social interaction and discussion opportunity that workshops bring.

“Our employees said they felt they weren’t able to step away from work when trying to engage with our e-learning. Providing a dedicated learning space helped but they said they missed the group workshops. They missed meeting other people in the business they wouldn’t normally meet or have access to. We re-introduced workshops to achieve this and encourage greater cross-company working.”

Would in-house training workshops help your employees learn better? 

If you need expert in-house trainers to run engaging and practical workshops contact us and we’ll recommend suitable ones for you.

Contact us at info@optimuslearningservices.com or call 0845 519 7408.




Is Learning Part of Your Team’s Daily Routine?

According to our recent Learning and Development survey, the biggest priority for L&D departments in 2018 is to assist their managers in helping their employees learn.

HR has long been a function that facilitates as well as drives personal development, but one of their main enemies is the frantic nature of modern business. Managers have so many competing priorities that they rarely have enough time to listen to them, let alone dedicate the time to do what they need to do.

Every now and again, learning strides forward can be made with a concerted internal PR effort, but for learning to be a habit, managers need to make it part of their daily routine.

As with any habit, the motivation has to come from within.

No matter how keen a manager is on supporting the development of their team, in order to make it a habit, their team has to first buy in to its benefits. They too have their own priorities and pressures, so for them to dedicate time to develop themselves, they have to believe that it will do them some good. You only keep up a fitness regime because you can see yourself losing weight and getting stronger – it is much the same with personal development at work.

We have all worked in teams where everything is disjointed, firefighting is common and people are unhappy with the chaotic nature of their existence. Everyone knows that something needs to change, but nothing changes.

The manager then takes everyone on a time management course and people get better at prioritising. He chairs a series of workshops on organizational effectiveness and people feel more in control. He talks to individuals about how they can improve their relationships and everyone seems more accommodating.

All of a sudden, people are noticing that training has an impact and before you know it, they are talking amongst themselves about what training they need next. This is what happens when learning becomes a habit – when people own the development of the wider team they can’t fail but contribute to better outcomes.

When training is a one-off event, it is easily dismissed as a “sticking plaster” measure. When continuous training leads to continuous improvement, why would it not endure?

In our work sourcing training for companies, we find that the majority of our clients come back for more. We get to know their needs over a period of time and it is rare that we will do a piece of work for a client and then never speak to them again. Training is something that evolves with the development of your, and if you make it a habit, then the potential for continued growth is genuinely limitless.

If you go to work with the expectation of learning something new about yourself and about those around you, your daily routine will never be routine.

Reducing L&D overwhelm – the Ignite Presentation

” I wonder if you would like to deliver an Ignite presentation at the L&D Show in May?” asked Giorgia Gamba, Content Manager from CIPD back in April.  I checked the date, it was April 4th.  Too late for April fools so this was genuine.

I’d never delivered an Ignite Presentation nor had I spoken in public at an event like this.

So ignoring the voice of doubt I said yes.


When Giorgia said I could talk about whatever topic I wanted two sprang to mind.  The skills shortage or reducing the overwhelm that L&D currently face.

I chose the latter.  L&D have so much change happening now feelings of overwhelm lead to stress, reduced creativity and turn opportunities into challenges.

I hate seeing great L&D professionals stifled (its one of the reason I launched the business in the first place) and as a business owner, I can relate to overwhelm.   I’ve spent the past few years developing habits,  making time for myself and doing what I can to stay focused.

Humbled I found out I was sharing the stage with some amazing L&D minds – Andrew Jacobs, Niall Gavin, Sukh Pabial, Marco Faccini, Krystyna Gadd, Amanda Arrowsmith, Phil Wilcox and Julie Drybrough.

Nerves.  Pre-event nerves.  Overcome by collective encouragement and support.  Not one of us ran, despite several jokes about it.

My turn.   Remember to breathe. Deep breaths, good breaths.  Positive affirmations.

Watch the video and judge for yourself


An exhilarating experience.  The 5 minutes flew by.  I covered all of the content I had prepared and the feedback was positive.

So the lessons I learnt are to say yes to things,  recognise that others feel the way you feel, and preparation is always going to overcome nerves.