Cindy Huggett, CPLP
When was the last time someone left your virtual training class and said: “That was the best class I’ve ever attended!” Or someone asked, “When can we do this again because it was a great way to learn?”
My hope is that you hear these comments on a regular basis. But if your virtual training is like most, then you are more likely to hear nothing at all.
How can you elevate your virtual training and make sure it’s successful? Through interactive design and effective delivery.
First, interactive design gets participants involved in their own learning. They engage with the content, with the facilitator, and with the platform tools. They also engage with each other. A truly interactive virtual training class creates a high-quality online learning experience.
Interactive design begins with a clear definition of expectations about what the virtual training will accomplish. It determines exactly what the goal is, and how an online session will meet that goal.
And interactive design also includes engaging activities from the start and invites participants to get involved right away. It incorporates learning methods that maximize participant involvement, using the platform tools in creative ways.
For example, an interactive interpersonal skills virtual training class might include a role play that — combines creative on-screen graphics with poll questions that steer the conversation in various directions. Or an interactive technical virtual training class might make use of the chat feature to prompt learner questions about procedures. These are just two of many ways to creatively design interactive online training.
An interactive design frequently involves participants in their own learning — at least every few minutes. Minimal lecture and maximum engagement lead to increased learning.
Second, effective delivery means the facilitator can engage an unseen audience in a way that draws them into the online training. The best virtual facilitators create a comfortable online learning environment for participants.
Effective delivery begins with extreme preparation, similar to what a world-class athlete does to get to the peak of their game. Facilitators prepare by learning the content and planning ways to involve participants in every aspect of the class. In addition, they take care to set up their technology — laptop, headset, webcam, and any other tools needed — so that they are fully prepared to lead the virtual class.
Facilitators log into the session at least 30 minutes in advance so they are ready to roll out the welcome mat for learners. They engage with participants from the start by using the platform tools, saying names, setting expectations, and keeping the learner's attention in the virtual classroom.
Effective virtual facilitators remember that their job is not to lecture or present, but instead to help participants learn new skills that can be applied on the job. Everything they do is focused on the learner experience.
By incorporating interactive design and effective delivery into your virtual training classes, your virtual training is sure to be a success.
Cindy Huggett, CPLP, is an independent consultant, professional speaker, instructional designer, classroom facilitator and author who helps organizations move from the traditional to the virtual classroom. She’s the author of three books on virtual training, including Virtual Training Tools and Templates: An Action Guide to Live Online Learning, The Virtual Training Guidebook: How to Design, Deliver, and Implement Live Online Learning, and Virtual Training Basics. You can find Cindy sharing training tips on Twitter as @cindyhugg or on her website (http://www.cindyhuggett.com).