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Three Keys to Developing Powerful Virtual Training

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

As our world evolves with Google at everyone’s fingertips and things like COVID19 forcing people to work from home, most companies are transitioning classroom training to virtual delivery.

While web-based training has received a lot of attention in recent decades, not much has been shared about how to accomplish effective virtual training. Many designers are under the impression that facilitators can just deliver their ILT (instructor-led training) courses virtually or that courses can be developed for delivery both in classroom and virtually.

This is a bad idea.  Why? Most of you have probably had some experience lately with sitting in virtual meeting rooms. You know working remotely means you are likely to get interrupted during the meeting by people, pets, network issues, etc.  Furthermore, you know how challenging it is to keep your attention on the speaker when you can’t see their face, nor that of others in the meeting.

The most important reason not to deliver courses designed for the classroom, virtually, is that it doesn’t promote effective learning. We’ll get to why that is as we progress.

So, if we can’t apply our tried and true skills for developing courses for the classroom, what should we be doing.  Here we consider the three most important factors for virtual delivery. 

1. Build in Powerful Engagement Activities

While engagement is an essential part of learning, no matter the delivery mechanism, no where is it as critical as in virtual training.  Sitting in one position and staring at computer screen for hours on end is not conducive to good learning. So, we must go to much greater lengths to get and hold the learner’s attention. Use the following checklist when thinking about how to develop your courses. 

  • Ask Questions

Ask frequent questions. Classroom facilitators often ask rhetorical questions to get learners thinking and then answer the question themselves.  In virtual training it is important to have the facilitator wait until one or two people have answered the question vocally. Facilitators can have others enter their answers in the chat and then call on any individuals writing a different point of view.  Use the hand raise feature (available on most platforms) for questions that have a yes or no answer. 

  • Use Polls In most virtual delivery systems such as Skype or Zoom, you will find a feature for group polling. You can write the polls in advance and have them ready when you need them. Use polls to get group responses to any question the facilitators ask. Then have them debrief. When you do not have polls available, use the chat to get people to respond. 

  • Animate Slides Think about creative and interesting ways to animate slides so that the material appears on the screen as the facilitator delivers it. This keeps learners interested because they cannot anticipate what is coming and assume that they already know it. 

  • Avoid Bullet Points Avoid using bullet points like the plague. Nothing is more boring than a screen full of text.  Instead, consider using Smart Art, or images that illustrate the point.  Create graphic representations of content rather than using words.