Since the inception of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) technology, it’s become an enticing way for organizations to save travel costs and offer more sessions that are available to employees in every timezone. However, with all the benefits come concerns around perceived lack of interaction and engagement, lack of learner progress, ROI, or impact over time. But when done right, virtual learning can be just as effective as in-person learning and can allow additional space for new, creative solutions for a more flexible workforce.
Start with the technology. This may seem obvious enough but ensuring that you’ve worked out the hurdles before launching the programs will help the change management for end-users and administrators.
Here are the three most important features to help you identify your chosen tech solution:
- Use technology that can scale with you. Some packages limit the number of online attendees. Ensure that you have enough licenses for the types of online learning you are going to facilitate.
- Certify that attendees can log on from their systems. This may also include dial-in numbers from phones or VOIP for browsers. You need to know your audience and ensure global employees have access.
- Make certain that you can share apps and presentations.
The second factor to consider is keeping your solution user-focused, which is the only way to keep engagement high. Here are five suggestions to increase energy and engagement levels during learning sessions:
1. Polling: Offering an engaging activity can be a great start for keeping users stimulated in the virtual learning environment. Polls can be kept simple and, in addition to keeping your audience engaged, they can gather data to help keep administrators informed.
2. Use a Chat Window: Encourage attendees to use a chat window during sessions to foster collaboration.
3. Whiteboards: Using whiteboards is a great way to promote user interaction. After polling users and attendees, copy the text from their given answers and paste them on the whiteboard to continue the conversation.
4. Breakout Rooms: For topics that require more in-depth levels of conversation or to add some variance to the sessions, try using breakout rooms. It’s common in larger online learning spaces for a few people to share repeatedly while others remain silent. Using smaller breakout rooms with a select group of individuals will minimize the imbalance and promote activity from all attendees.
5. Annotation Tools: Most conferencing platforms will offer annotation tools, which help create environments similar to in-person meetings, drawing users’ attention to specific areas if you need to re-engage the audience.
The key to designing a user-focused virtual learning program is to maintain a balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning. That means offering equal opportunities for people to engage in larger learning sessions as well as autonomous, self-directed learning—along with all variations in between. Selecting the right technological solutions can help you foster this kind of holistic and supportive learning environment for your whole team.
To help administrators and end-users shift from in-person learning to virtual learning programs, our client services experts have built two pathways of all our most effective resources, which you can access below.