How do we make virtual training as good as face-to-face training? It’s a question that troubles many learning professionals every day.
Many learners see virtual training as inferior to the face-to-face learning experience. Yes, it is different, but it can be just as good, if not better, more interactive, and more engaging!
There are five steps to ensuring that our virtual training events are every bit as effective as our face-to-face ones. In this series of five blog posts, I will look at each of these steps in turn. Let’s start by focusing on the first, and most critical, element of great virtual classroom design: interaction.
Why do we need interaction? It’s not only vital in keeping and maintaining your audience’s attention and focus; learners are also much more likely to have a beneficial learning experience if they are involved in the learning.
Unfortunately, we have all probably been in a virtual training session that is not highly interactive, one that affords us the opportunity to hide behind the bandwidth and attend to other tasks. Often we hear of organizations that have selected a virtual platform to deliver training virtually, such as Adobe Connect, WebEx Training Center, or Citrix GoToTraining. They expect that their virtual training programs will be interactive because the platform supports interaction—but interaction doesn’t just happen. You need to design it.
In the virtual classroom, we should think of interaction taking place in three different ways:
- Between faculty and learner: This is the most obvious and often used way of interacting in the virtual platform. The facilitator interacts verbally with learners by asking questions and listening to their experiences, thoughts, and opinions.
- Between the learners themselves: Have learners collaborate and work together. Ask them to build upon learners’ comments, break into small group activities (as we do in face-to-face training), and present back.
- Between the learner and the platform tools: There are many ways to get audiences interacting with the platform tools. Ask learners to share thoughts and opinions in chat, annotate on whiteboards, or use “raise hand” and other feedback icons.
If we pull all these different ways to interact together, the training session is going to be lively, interactive, and engaging. Learners will be less likely to multitask, and they will learn more.
Want to learn more? Join me at the ATD 2017 India Summit in Mumbai on January 17, 2017, or Bangalore on January 19, 2017. Check out the October 2016 issue of TD at Work, “6 Steps to Moving Your Training Online.” And stay tuned for the next four steps in future blog posts.