What are your practical considerations?
To build a firm foundation for delivering live online training, it’s essential to consider the practical issues, including acquiring the technical skills you need.
Know your platform
As an online presenter, a basic requirement is that you are fluent and comfortable in the platform you’re using. Make sure you can quickly access the features you need as well as showing attendees how to use them. Spend time getting familiar with the platform and its features. Here’s a handy ‘cheat sheet’ with a checklist to help you.
Have a technical producer or host
As well as the presenter, smooth virtual delivery relies on the role of producer who can trouble-shoot technical issues, respond to the chat box, and prompt the presenter with questions from participants.
Set up rehearsals in advance with colleagues so that you can test out your session and the features you need.
Is your audience ready to learn?
Make it as easy as possible for your participants to engage with the session, removing technology barriers where possible.
Some practical tips to reduce tech issues:
Make sure it’s easy for participants to join – send the link and joining information in a calendar invitation along with anything else they need, all in one place.
Have quick trouble-shooting responses pre-prepared for anyone who has issues, then the producer can cut-and-paste these into the chat box.
Teach the tools you need participants to use as you go, right before they need to use them. Explain, demo, ask participants to try it, then go into the activity.
What makes impactful virtual classroom experiences?
Attention spans online are short, so you need to design sessions which give attendees reasons to stay interested and motivated. You want enthusiasm from your audience! How do you do this?
Focus on learning objectives that matter
Keep your session streamlined and focused. And understand your audience, so you can pitch the level appropriately. What do they already know, and what do they need to get from the session? You could send a quick survey in advance to scope out learner needs.
Borrow but don’t fully import from face-to-face
Face-to-face session plans can be a good starting point for ideas, but the content will need adapting to be successful online. Sessions almost certainly needs to be shorter, or split into more than one event.
How many people, and how long?
If you’re aiming for interactive ‘virtual classroom’ learning, 10-15 people is ideal. If numbers creep above 20 then you’re into webinar territory, which is more one-way presentational style. For a virtual classroom, the session length is ideally 90 minutes to two hours. For a two-hour session, include a comfort break halfway through. Webinars are best kept to one hour.
Keep it moving, keep it interactive
To maintain interest, the session needs to be varied in pace, with frequent interactivity. Use a blend of types of activity, combining short amounts of facilitator-led input with participant involvement. Use the chat window often and ask for input.
How do you raise your game online?
Once you’re comfortable and competent with the basics of session design and delivery, it’s time to start upskilling.
Using interactivity really well
You don’t necessarily need to use the most sophisticated tools. Sometimes the best presenters are just very good at using the basics. This infographic gives a few suggestions…
How do you make it matter?
For meaningful impact, our aim is to achieve long-lasting behaviour change. How do you achieve this through live online learning?
Blended learning campaigns
Real change rarely occurs through a one-off training session. So to achieve meaningful outcomes, live online learning will be used as one element of a wider campaign for change. Use the virtual classroom alongside other resources that support the learning objectives.
Reporting and measuring are important for demonstrating the effectiveness of using a virtual classroom. Using your learning management system to track and analyse learner attendance and feedback can help with this.
So for delivering live online sessions that keep participants engaged, ensure you’re prepared, that you know your platform and understand your learners, and crucially that you have adapted from face-to-face plans and can build in interactivity. Using the five steps outlined here will help you achieve the impact you’re aiming for.
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