Even the most well-educated and experienced professionals in any industry have room to grow. The best team members and leaders never stop looking for new ways to strengthen their skills and gain new talents. However, going back for another degree or attending a conference isn’t always financially feasible and may not work with everyone's schedules. Online learning and professional development is the next step leaders can implement and use to their advantage.

Here are five keys to implementing a successful virtual learning and development program.

1. Identify Key Values and Objectives

Lesson plans, lectures and activities always center on primary learning objectives. What should participants take away from their time spent developing their industry knowledge? Many learning and development (L&D) experts start by identifying a team or company's fundamental values. The objectives will use them to guide each lesson, like centering workplace meetings around communication and teamwork.

2. Reflect on Current Dilemmas

What is current leadership lacking that virtual training can improve? Although it's a valuable tool for training new employees for leadership roles, it can also refine existing teams that aren't meeting their full potential.

Reflect on what existing leaders could work on to create the best virtual L&D lessons possible. The presentation might focus on becoming comfortable with uncertainty so people grow outside of their comfort zones. The classes could teach about how to better prepare for conferences or training events. It depends on the leadership team's duties and where they can become stronger.

3. Find the Best Format

Some people will learn more quickly by listening to lectures. Others will want to participate by answering questions or studying for tests. Anyone who wants to know how to implement online professional development classes should find the best format for their audience.

Take a poll of preferred learning styles or reflect on the course material to pinpoint the best way to make it more easily understood. This might mean videoconferencing with guest speakers that capture everyone’s attention or selecting highlighted sessions within certification training for everyone to study. Team members will value their virtual L&D if they're comfortable with how they can access the information.

4. Connect With Creative Tools

Creative thinking may result in online professional development tools that make an instructional lesson more successful. Consider creating polls for participants to take during lectures to check in with how much they're understanding. Use a drawing program to encourage everyone to collaborate in real-time on an activity prompt.

Taking a break from reading or listening will engage everyone on a deeper level and make the lesson easier to remember after finishing their virtual L&D courses.

5. Test the Tech Beforehand

Digital presentations are never foolproof, so test the tech before anyone checks into the virtual waiting room. Run through the presentation, open the drawing software and click any links viewers need to understand the material. It's better to solve glitches before the lessons begin so no one feels like their essential professional development was a waste of time.

Implement Online Professional Development Strategies

Now that you know how to implement online professional development, reflect on your team's leadership abilities and needs. Whether you need to train an incoming group of employees or refine an existing group's skills, these virtual development strategies will make the entire process easier and more memorable for everyone involved.