What is there left to learn about designing, producing, and facilitating virtual learning? So much! This blog is the second in a series recapping the recent Virtual Classroom Panel hosted by eLearning Guild during their 2018 Learning Solutions Conference. Read the first post, What are the Biggest Virtual Classroom Tool Challenges? Experts Say…
With all the virtual tools in all the land, creating successful live online learning programs requires planning. How do we set people up for success in this training environment? What do we, as the people designing and facilitating the learning experience, need to do in order to create a really positive virtual experience?
Experts Jennifer Hofmann, President of InSync Training, Bianca Woods, Sr. Manager of Programming for the eLearning Guild, Nina Talley Everflow, Senior Program Manager of EnCompass, and, Karen Hyder, Principal of Kaleidoscope Training and Consulting recommend:
- Assume everything will go wrong
- Work with a partner
- Anticipate basic technology and inexperienced learners
Plan for the Worst
Assume that everything will go wrong in your virtual learning session. No, really! Let that paranoia drive your preparation. For example, use two machines logged in on two different network connections to support a single session. Think through, “If one network connection fails, how will I communicate with learners? What if my phone line fails and participants can’t hear my voice? What could possibly go wrong with playing the video?”
Think of solutions to possible challenges before the session begins. Thinking through the worst-case scenario ahead of time ensures a flawless event, no matter the technical difficulties. Don’t see this as your backup plan – consider it standard operating procedure!
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Virtual learning experts agree that partnerships allow for more smoothly run sessions. Teams of at least two — one expert facilitating the content and one host or technical producer monitoring the technology — makes a magical pairing. This model works especially well for global sessions with multicultural audiences or learners in areas with spotty internet.
Apply our first suggestion here, too. Anticipate what will go wrong and provide a knowledgeable team to support learners through the inevitable technical difficulties you’ll face. Doing so enables them to concentrate on building their skills, not dealing with technology issues.
Address the Lowest Common Denominator
Virtual learning platforms like Adobe Connect and WebEx Training Center provide us with tools to create engaging experiences. But sometimes, the tools get out of hand and the bells and whistles overpower our content.
In fact, we can design great content that doesn’t require animations and video or live video streaming. And if we can create that great experience at the lowest bandwidth or the lowest common denominator of technological comfort, we set our sessions up for true impact.
Ultimately, we want to make sure that everyone has an equivalent learning experience. Planning and collaborative facilitating do the trick!