Fosway Research - COVID-19 L&D Impact Infographic

The Power of Virtual Classrooms in a Post-Pandemic World

Fosway research earlier in 2020 that showed 95% of learning leaders believe L&D has changed forever as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. One area of significant change was the explosion in use of Virtual Classroom solutions.

To understand more, Fosway did some research in association with Barco, a global provider of network visualised solutions, to better understand the impact of Virtual Classrooms and areas for further improvement. It is of course, no surprise that as many as 97% of organisations are now using virtual classrooms to support learning and development. Interestingly, over half (53%) told us that virtual classrooms have proved to be their most successful learning platforms during the pandemic. The shift to remote working has meant this explosion was inevitable, but we wanted to get beyond the initial crisis adoption to understand if these solutions are truly effective for learning – not just a sticking plaster.

Virtual classrooms have been a staple in corporate learning for a long, long time. And the current situation has meant there has been a sense that any learning is better than nothing, but that learning via virtual classrooms is still the poor relation to the physical classroom. However, as time goes on, organisations find themselves needing to get beyond lowest common denominator solutions and also have to deliver against strategic people initiatives such as leadership and team development.

Key headlines from the research include:

  • 5 x increase in using virtual classrooms for high value programmes like leadership development since the start of COVID-19
  • An explosion in the use of virtual classrooms for coaching and mentoring, with a 19x increase
  • A 400% increase in the use of virtual classrooms for external training delivery
  • 95% of learners are satisfied with their virtual learning experiences
  • 70% of organisations have adopted Microsoft Teams as a virtual classroom solution, but only 10% rate it as effective for learning

L&D leaders also state that creating a differentiated experience from normal virtual meetings is critical. Designing experiences that include high levels of interaction are necessary to make virtual learning work.

“Given the ongoing need for extended home working and limited business travel, all companies need to maximise the untapped potential that virtual classrooms can provide. It’s not enough to just lift and shift face-to-face sessions into a virtual environment. It’s critical to design the experiences and harness the full collaborative and interactive capabilities that some of the solutions on the market have to offer.”
David Wilson, CEO


It is clear that many L&D teams won’t simply be reverting back to the old face-to-face model even after the pandemic is over. So, what have we learned that can help us consolidate and evolve the virtual approach?

  • Virtual classrooms have the potential to be about so much more than content delivery or training. The huge increase in usage for coaching and mentoring for example, bears this out. Thinking about our PLASMA model it is important to consider how the technology can be harnessed for reflection, feedback and practice as well as delivering content.
  • Not all tools are created equal. Virtual meeting tools often do not have the features and functions rated as critical to creating an effective virtual learning experience e.g. breakout rooms, interactive functionality and collaborative capabilities.
  • Administrative functionality and interconnectivity with other platforms e.g. LMS are important but often overlooked in virtual classroom tool selection.
  • The pandemic has pushed organisations to use virtual classrooms for more types of learning including leadership and other high value development programmes. This is still largely an untapped opportunity and the design and delivery needs to be about more than simply transferring full training days into long virtual sessions.
  • We’ll be unpacking these reflections and more in a write-up and webinar in the new year and look forward to sharing these with you then.


  • Fosway Group and Barco conducted a research survey of their learning and development networks during May 2020 focusing on L&D Directors, managers and learning technology professionals, drawn primarily from enterprise organisations in Europe.
  • These results are based on responses from 136 organisations and reflect our desire for a quick turnaround of the research.
  • There will be further exploration of the findings in write-ups and a webinar in early 2021.
  • If you’d like to talk to a Fosway analyst about your virtual classroom experiences and share any insights you’d like to pass on, contact us via or you can view more of our latest research here