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5 Favorite Virtual Classroom Hacks

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Wed Aug 05 2015

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5 Favorite Virtual Classroom Hacks-5b7bb5f4dbf83204a05dd83e8a67cf4f145b91d65eb9a52a6d44dc678fb4fcf4

I admit it: I've been dying to use the word "hack" in a blog post title. It just seems like all of the cool kids are doing it. There...now I've gotten that out of my system. Okay, maybe these aren't really "hacks," but here are five of my favorite tips for maximizing instructional time in a virtual classroom. 

Hack #1: Ask Specific Questions

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When facilitating a virtual training session, nothing is worse than when you ask your learners to contribute, and all you hear is silence. When you want learners to answer a question or contribute to a conversation, phrase your request in such a way that learners know how to respond. 

For example, never ask, “What type of project management techniques have you used in the past?” Instead ask, “If you’ve managed a project in the past, click the green checkmark. If you haven’t managed a project in the past, click the red X.” Now, you know everyone who has managed a project and can ask a specific individual what techniques they used on a particular project.

Hack #2: Don’t Let the Tools Dictate Your Design

When designing training for the virtual classroom, start with a design document. Identify the learning objectives, and then determine how you will assess whether the participants have mastered that learning objective. Only then can you determine which virtual classroom collaboration tools you will use to teach and assess that learning objective. 

Hack #3: Flip Your Delivery 

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When designing a blended learning program, “flip the classroom” to maximize the collaborative impact of your design. This means deliver the lecture and content-heavy material in a self-paced format, such as e-learning, simulations, or reading. Use the valuable—and limited—live time in the virtual classroom for application of the content delivered to learners in that self-paced format. To facilitate this design style, map learning objectives to the appropriate learning technologies using a modern application of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning

Hack #4: Get a Producer 

A producer in the virtual classroom should be so much more than technical support. The producer supports facilitators by helping to manage content, timing, and technology. At the same time, a producer is a participant advocate, always looking for the "body language in the bandwidth" in order to ascertain that learners are engaged, and mastering the content.

Hack #5: Avoid “Death by Demo” 

"Death by demo" is NOT an effective application training technique! In other words, your time together in the virtual classroom is not effective if all you do is watch demos of other people doing work. Instead, when teaching something like software applications, design activities that encourage interaction, collaboration, and hands-on experience that allow every learner to practice and master the technology.  

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For more virtual classroom hacks, join me for one, or both, of our upcoming programs: Facilitating Virtual Training Certificate and Designing Virtual Training Certificate.

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