We all know that organizations have had to quickly move face-to-face training to the virtual classroom. This seismic shift extends beyond instructional design, learner logistics, and technical considerations. It impacts facilitators, too.
Chances are you didn’t dream of being a virtual facilitator, but here you are quite by accident. You might’ve recently graduated and landed a sales position that is now training. Or you’re a traditional trainer and now you’re working online. You probably didn’t think “Wow! I can’t wait to work on the computer and not have learners in front of me.”
But here you are in this position and you find yourself in this unexpected training situation and you’re like, “What’s next?”
Facing the Fear
Yes, new virtual classroom facilitators worry about the technology and the unfamiliarity of the virtual learning environment when tasked with moving from the face-to-face classroom.
But, in our experience, the fear extends far beyond technical considerations and planning. It speaks to a larger concern about the security and importance of our work to the organization. You might anxiously think:
“I’m going to be replaced! If I deliver this virtual classroom training really well, I might be replaced in the face-to-face classroom. Or the pandemic may take over and I have to train virtually all the time. What if moving my learning to the virtual classroom really ruins my class? Even worse, I might ruin it.”
A Story from the Virtual Classroom Trenches
InSync Training expert Karen Vieth knows the feeling. She shared:
“I’m here to tell you that I’ve been producing, designing, and facilitating in the virtual classroom for 20 years. I came to this space from traditional training – I came from face-to-face into virtual – no one tied me to my chair and said I had to do this, like many of you. I jumped on the bandwagon and thought, “it’ll happen for a while.” And just let it ride. But let me tell you, when you find the power in the virtual platform, any face-to-face training can be powerful in the virtual classroom setting.”
What does that power look like in the virtual classroom? For Karen it involves making the learning engaging, connecting the dots between content points for learners, and grabbing (and keeping!) learner attention. And once you decide to focus on those goals as a facilitator, the learning environment starts to feel less intimidating.
The Truth About Virtual Classroom Facilitators
Just like a reframed mindset provides the first important step in moving learning live online, facilitators new to the virtual classroom should update their perspective about instructional delivery.
Karen Vieth explains:
“It was humbling when I figured out my physical presence had little to do with the outcome of the learning and instead it has everything to do with my delivery. No matter what classroom you’re in, whether you’re in a room with white walls or blue walls or an LTD projector or in Webex – it’s the way in which I present the content and engage and involve my learners really matters.”
The concept of facilitation doesn’t change. The classroom does. Modern learners – all they need is a space to gather – to gather knowledge in a meaningful way, to practice skills in a safe environment, and to be able to question the instructor and others and apply those skills with like-minded people.
Ultimately, you have to facilitate that. You are a facilitator of connection and engagement. You are not a lecturer. And that truth remains whether you meet your learners face-to-face or virtually.
Even in times like these, you need to simply look at the platform available to you, reframe your vision, and figure out how to bring the engaging learning experience to life.