To be or not to be in the virtual classroom – that is the question, right?
With changing organizational goals, emerging technologies, and an increasingly global workforce, learning & development practitioners must know whether or not delivering learning in the live online environment is the right fit for the content and their learners.
Well, to find the answer for your training, take this quick quiz.
10 Easy Yes or No Questions
- Does your training audience span outside of your office?
- Does your content consist of lecture, group discussion, small group activities and independent work?
- Is saving travel dollars important to the organization?
- Does the group need to be in person to receive this training?
- Do you have a virtual platform that allows you to work collaboratively?
- Do you have trainers?
- Do you have learners?
- Do you have trainers that can work with the audience and get them to a greater meaning?
- Do you have highly functioning trainers and learners?
- Do you use a computer every day for your job?
Assess Your Results
If you answered yes to even seven out of 10 of these questions, it is high time we created a virtual training for you. Virtual classroom training is right for nearly every training situation. It is less about what can you put in the virtual classroom, and more about how creative you can get in the virtual classroom.
A Follow-Up Question: Have You Considered Your Personnel?
Deciding using the virtual classroom for your training is more of a personnel question than it is a technical question. Are the trainers and learners ready, willing, and enabled to be successful in this environment?
At InSync Training, we use these three metrics to determine the likelihood of success of virtual training. Each qualification has a helpful question that you can ask to get to the bottom of whether your team of facilitators can adapt to this new learning environment.
Teams who are ready:
- Understand the online learner experience.
- Ask: Have facilitators walked in the shoes of a learner to determine what works and what doesn’t work?
- Understand the design.
- Ask: Has the design been altered to meet the needs of the virtual classroom and has the facilitator internalized the changes?
- Master the technology.
- Ask: Have both the facilitator and the learner been introduced to and walked through the tools in the virtual classroom?
- Practice managing the blend.
- Ask: Have the facilitators and the learners had time to practice with the organization of the blended virtual learning approach?
Teams who are willing:
- Believe in the effectiveness of online learning.
- Ask: Do the facilitators and the learners have a core belief that the virtual classroom can be effective?
- Believe in the effectiveness of your online program.
- Ask: Do the facilitators and the learners believe that they themselves can be successful in the virtual classroom? Are they acting as change agents?
- Be adaptable and flexible in developing the skills this environment requires.
- Ask: Are the facilitators and the learners ready to walk through the hiccups of the technology and adapt the training and such to the virtual classroom?
Teams who are enabled:
- Receive organizational buy-in/support.
- Ask: Have you been provided the right environment, equipment and attitude to succeed in the virtual classroom?
- Set aside time to get ready and prep.
- Ask: Do you as a facilitator and a learner have the time it takes to prep and get ready for this virtual classroom experience (have you put your out of office on yet)?
- Dedicate time to support the blend.
- Ask: Beyond the online time required to teach, do learners and facilitators have time in-between sessions to connect, read, and reflect about the learning experience?
- Allow themselves the opportunity to decompress.
- Ask: What do the facilitators and learners need to have available to them to recharge after the session?
So the Virtual Classroom is Right for You…. What Next?
If, after taking the 10 question quiz you’ve realized the virtual classroom is right for your program, and your organization is ready for the switch, it’s time to make the transition.
To start the process, chunk your face-to-face content down into lessons, activities, resources, and assignments. Then, determine what is absolutely need-to-know information and what is fluff or nice-to-know information.
All need-to-know information goes into the learning campaign. Anything knowledge-based goes into the resources and assignments either before, during or after the live classroom lessons. The nice-to-know information goes into the file resources as an option to be used for the learner that craves more.
Virtual classroom lessons should be a time where you pull learners together for a meaningful experience – a time for learners to showcase or apply knowledge gained and/or collaborate with other learners about given topics. It is important when looking for a virtual classroom to find one that offers tools within the technology that allow for connection, communication, and collaboration. All three of those “C’s” are important success factors to determining if the virtual environment is right for you.
Final Words of Wisdom
It isn’t about if you start training in the virtual classroom, it is about when you will start training in the virtual classroom. Understanding when to begin making the change, and how to do so, helps you support both your learners and your facilitators during the process.
Being a good virtual facilitator is about learning the skills and techniques of virtual facilitation, but being a GREAT virtual facilitator is about learning the skills, knowledge and techniques to design and facilitate in the virtual classroom.