Moving to Virtual: 3 Keys to Success
VIRTUAL TRAINING – Cindy Huggett, CPLP
It’s not about keeping participants busy, it’s about engaging them in their own learning.
Virtual training has been around for more than 20 years. However, in recent weeks, it has moved from just another option for learning to the primary method of learning for many organizations. Its importance has accelerated, and its urgency has increased.
Moving classroom programs online changes the delivery method, but it doesn’t change the desired outcomes. It’s still important for participants to learn and apply new skills.
In this time of rapid change, it’s easy to forget what we know about adult learners and just throw something up that may not work.
So how can you ensure learning success? Successful virtual training has three important components:
- Interactive design.
- Engaging delivery.
- Prepared participants.
The very definition of virtual training means that participants don’t need to gather in a physical classroom to learn, which leads to its biggest challenge: distractions. Remote participants feel the pull of everything else around them, and most learners admit to multitasking during their online classes.
An interactive design is one of the best ways to overcome this challenge. Create a virtual program that frequently engages participants in their learning – at least every four minutes. Make use of the virtual classroom tools, like polling, chatting, whiteboarding and breakouts to create a dialogue among learners.
Of course, it’s not about keeping participants busy, it’s about engaging them in their own learning. As you create interaction, ensure that everything in the class leads toward the learning outcomes.
Equally important to an interactive design is an engaging facilitator, one who can connect and build rapport with remote participants. Those who remember their role as a “facilitator” instead of a “presenter” will have the easiest time creating robust learning conversations.
To create an engaging delivery, facilitators need to be experts in the virtual platform and able to explain its features to participants. They’re comfortable on camera and have an enthusiastic voice. They also focus on creating a positive learning experience.
An often-overlooked component of virtual training success is the participants. Preparation is more than just sending an electronic calendar invitation to the online event. Proper preparation fully explains and sets expectations for the learning experience.
For example, participants need to realize that they are attending a learning event and not going to just another online meeting. They should be set up for success with the equipment they need (such as sound cards, headsets and webcams), and they need to know that their manager supports their time in the online classroom.
Virtual training can be an effective way to learn when it is done intentionally well. By considering these three components, you will be on your way to achieving success with your virtual training classes.
Cindy Huggett, CPLP, is a consultant whose books include Virtual Training Tools and Templates and The Virtual Training Guidebook. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.