As with any learning, the initial aspect of designing the experience is one of the most critical stages. For virtual training events to be effective, greater engagement and interaction must be designed into the experience. The following are some strategies you can use to design and develop an engaging learning experience.
Undertake an analysis of the performance problem and who the learners are. This might feel like going back to the drawing board, but simply taking an existing face-to-face training program is making the assumption that the original analysis was done well and is still current.
Undertake a technical analysis to understand what technology the learners have, or the technical limitations they may be facing.
Determine the structure of the virtual learning experience. Avoid designing a single “one and done” learning event. Rather, consider the main learning event (or events) and then determine the micro-events that you can design to engage with the learners before and after.
Consider the flow of the main event and the different learning experiences that you could use to engage with the learners.
Consider a structure that involves a high level of interaction and requires a change of state for virtual learners to help them stay focused and engaged.
3. Tools and Technology
An important consideration when implementing virtual learning is researching and implementing a reliable and appropriate application (or applications) to run your learning events.
The key to getting started (and ultimately selecting the application that suits you) is by going back to the analysis and design of how virtual learning will be used as part of your learning strategy.
- Who are you delivering to make sure that they have the technical capacity to attend a virtual session
- The format of your content. Are you simply showing PowerPoint slides or will videos or other online content also be delivered during the virtual session?
- The budget you have, as price may have an impact on the webinar tool you use or the maximum number of participants that you can have attending.
- How you will facilitate the events and get participants to interact.
Also make sure you have appropriate video and audio equipment for delivering the virtual session, whether this is a desk mike or headset.
4. Prepare participants
Ensure learners know how to set up their systems and have the appropriate software installed before any learning event.
Consider a practice session before the main learning event (especially if a webinar or virtual classroom) to allow learners to practice logging in and using the tools they will use during the learning event.
Direct them to any existing online help. Most platforms offer videos or tutorials on how to use their software, which participants can watch before the event.
Remember, not everyone is comfortable in this type of online learning environment. Not everyone is tech-savvy and some people just don’t like change. Adequate preparation will help to alleviate these pressures on the learner.
5. Prepare yourself
Make sure you are comfortable with using the tools and everything, especially audio, is working correctly before the event.
Undertake a practice to ensure transitions and timing work as desired. Have a facilitation guide that plans out the live virtual event, including timings and activities.
When running a live virtual event login at least 30 minutes before and prepare the environment, including any polls or other activities for the learners.
6. Use a producer
For all live virtual events arrange for a producer to assist you. The producer or host will manage the technology. They should be experts with the application to ensure a seamless and quality learning event. The producer will also act as the technical support during the event, so you can focus on the delivery.
Also look to use the producer as the host, who can introduce you into the session. They can also manage the chat during the live event, calling out any essential questions that are asked.
Superb Learning offers a producer service for facilitators looking to run a live virtual event. Contact us on 1300 097 699 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
7. Quality design
Ensure a quality design of any visuals used in your live virtual sessions. As with a traditional classroom training session, the presentation should have minimal text and not just be a duplication of what the presenter will say.
8. Quality delivery
Delivering a quality learning experience involves keeping the learners interacting and engaged. Have the participants do something every 3-5 minutes. Whether it is speaking, reading, interacting with the technology, or working in breakout groups.
Providing a mix of learning experiences during the one live virtual event will ensure learners have a ‘change of state’ and help to maintain engagement.
Allocate specific times during the event for questions to ensure the flow of the event continues. Have a mechanism (such as the producer) to capture all questions and ensure they are answered within 24 hours after the live event if they were not able to be addressed during the event.
After any interaction or learning exercise conduct, an appropriate debrief. The debrief allows learners to connect the new knowledge and how they can apply it in their own context.
Techniques to have learners debrief the content include:
- Asking learners to share what they have done or learnt in a group activity.
- Brainstorm ideas on how the content could be applied.
- Peer review on work conducted by others.
- Random questioning of learners on how they will apply the new learning.
With any learning event, learner engagement is a key factor in the achievement of performance outcomes. This is no different in a virtual learning event, and quality learning design must be incorporated to ensure quality engagement.
Embrace the benefits a virtual learning experience can provide and utilise a range of technological tools to engage with learners throughout the learning journey.
Get the virtual learning experience right and you will be able to extend your reach, deliver in ways that best suit your learners and provide a superb learning experience to all.