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Remote And Virtual Learning

These are very interesting times, and as people and corporations are struggling to cope with this current health crisis. Unprecedently many businesses, schools, and colleges are sending people home to work. Personally, I am a big proponent of working and learning remotely. It reduces cost, is better for the environment by having one less annoying car in people’s morning commute, and no community bathrooms or kitchens! On the downside, it can be challenging to focus, noisy (sorry about my dog!), and still requires you to be presentable in case someone flips on the webcam during your 10 AM meeting. When holding large meetings, there are even additional considerations. These include remembering to mute your audience, having an additional person keep track of the comments and field questions, keeping track of time, and having some visuals. Training and instruction though, are an altogether different animal. Here are some advice and tips to consider when this alternative form of training and education delivery.

Virtual Classrooms Are Designed For Virtual Delivery

Let’s start with the obvious. From an instructional design perspective, virtual classrooms have unique design challenges not present in classroom or online training. Student engagement is critical. In properly developed classroom training that may last up to 8 hours per day, visual, tactile/kinesthetic, and auditory senses are all engaged as the learner progresses from one learning enhancing activity to another. Virtual classrooms are uniquely designed with breakout sessions, virtual whiteboards, chat rooms, and interactive components. Breaks from lectures are more frequent, with some experts urging only 10 minutes of a lecture at a time. Typical deliveries for the instructional designer include a presentation, interactive media components, a Facilitators Guide (complete with VILT tips), and a participant guide. If you don’t have time for this, at least do a quick re-design of your current classroom training to include break-outs and re-designed activities.

You Need Trained VILT Facilitators

Yes, that plural noun was on purpose. You need two. One person to teach and one person to support. Just like virtual meetings, it is impossible for the presenter or Facilitator (these are not the same by the way) to speak while answering questions. Additionally, helping students out with the inevitable technical issue (I can’t hear John!), make sure people are engaged (sorry was on mute… LIES!), tee up the next exciting visual component, inform the instructor of questions or comments, assist in the breakout sessions, help with activities… you get the picture. A second person is essential.

You Need Training VILT Facilitators

A point worth repeating. Your Facilitator must be trained not only on the presentation tool, but also how to manage a virtual classroom. From my experience in teaching large and small online classes, I quickly learned that engagement can be a tricky thing. Successfully remove the social awkwardness of a typical classroom and engagement can and will explode. You, however, will find you are not teaching a class of 10, but 10 classes with 1 participant each. Failure to respond to issues, answer questions, and manage the student who knows more than you, effectively and immediately, and you will experience an epic train wreck.

Practice!

The foundation of your virtual training relies on a software tool that must be fully understood to be useful. Especially when new to this, hold dry-runs with a practice group. Coordination between the Facilitator and co-facilitator must be practiced, as well as a deep familiarity with the chosen tool.

As stated earlier, school and business closures are forcing us to deliver training and education remotely immediately. Many, unfortunately, are not familiar with Virtual training or may have incorrect assumptions about it. I have found Virtual/Remote learning to be highly effective as well as highly convenient, but it does have its challenges. You will first need to change your thinking that this is anything like classroom teaching. Next, find a decent tool like GoToTraining or Adobe Connect and learn it. Finally, convert your classroom training to this new medium with the focus on STUDENT ENGAGEMENT. Do this, and you may find a new paradigm for your entire education/training endeavor from this point on.

The team at New Summit consist of a group of educational experts focused on management training and custom courseware development. All of our programs can be taught virtually, blended, online, or in-person. We can also assist with converting your existing content to a virtual platform, quickly and at a reasonable price. Ready to have us get involved? We are here for you! Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you and your company.