COVID-19 has caused organizations everywhere to rethink how they do business. From sales to in-house meetings, the new conversation is how to carry on without business disruptions in a pandemic. Having that conversation without addressing training and development is a little like leaving the house in the morning without your pants; every aspect of your business needs to be united to meet the challenges ahead. Businesses successful in training and development already know that suspending or canceling classes just because they can’t be held in person is the kiss of death. Business objectives and strategies still need to be met. Whether we believe it or not, this crisis will pass, and those organizations that imagine they have time to ramp up slowly are the very ones who will find they have strategies that no longer work or, worse, training methods that are now obsolete.
Despite suspended or canceled in-person training, one consistent player keeps business training efficient and reliable – the virtual classroom. But don’t think just because you once did some slides in PowerPoint; you’re good to go. Many factors affect virtual training success. Five elements we believe make the difference between blockbuster training and a lackluster bore.
Not all classrooms fit a virtual or online environment. Consider these questions before moving a class or training online:
What are the reasons for delivering a class remotely?
Would a workbook formatted as a PDF provide similar results?
What are the desired learning outcomes for delivering a specific class online?
Would a webcast cover the training just as successfully?
In the early days of online training, interactions between facilitators and students were limited. Today’s technologies have audio and video capabilities that enhance digital interactions between facilitators and students/employees. Besides video and audio conferencing, virtual training platforms allow for one-on-one or group chats. More advanced eLearning platforms make onscreen sharing available along with breakout rooms for small group interaction, brainstorming, or practicing new skills. Some platforms permit recordings and searchable transcripts for later review. Employees or students in even the most remote locations can now participate, eliminating lengthy commutes.
Incorporate other elements of in-person training. Don’t abandon other factors in good eLearning design. Follow-up activities, learning aids or guides, self-assessments, and other materials can increase the impact of the online classroom.
Enlist a producer for every course offered. The proper use of technology behind the scenes is just as important. Practice runs are a must for live productions to avoid technical mishaps and help trainers and learners stay on track. A producer also can assist with navigating platform features; while facilitators focus on the learners, producers can assist with learners’ technical needs.
Find facilitators skilled in virtual classroom settings. You wouldn’t want to fly at 30,000 feet without an experienced pilot, would you? ‘Nuff said.