Our six best practice suggestions for making a successful switch
In these uncertain times, many of our customers are switching their face-to-face training courses to online delivery. This is easier for some than others but it’s clearly the right strategy if your courses lend themselves to a virtual learning environment.
When making the switch, the temptation is to focus on what technology to use, but when you’re running an online course, there are many other factors to consider. Here are a few:
1. Make it social
It’s been proven that people learn better when they know the people that are learning with them. In a classroom environment, this happens naturally as people socialise before and during a course. But if you’re delivering an online course, you need to make it happen by pro-actively encouraging people to introduce themselves and interact with their fellow learners.
2. Participation matters (more)
No matter how engaging you are, it’s a fact that people’s ability to retain knowledge is directly linked to the extent to which they participate in the course through exercises and discussion. This is true for all types of training but it’s even more important for online learning that learners are participating as much as possible.
3. Bite-sized learning
In the digital age, attention spans are getting shorter and when delivering an online course, it’s that bit harder to keep your learners fully engaged. When converting a classroom course to an online format, we recommend you break the course up into smaller bite-sized chunks that can be delivered in a maximum of 10-15 minutes.
4. Mix it up
One of the benefits of online delivery is that you can ask learners to respond in different ways. For example, you can get them to write, talk or enable their webcams to interact. And some delivery platforms have instant polling where you can canvass opinion. The point is that by using multiple methods of engagement, you can do a lot to increase learner engagement during the course.
5. Lights, Camera, Action
They say that 80% of communication is non-verbal so even if you're using slides, you'll get much better engagement if people can see you. But make sure the lighting is good - nothing worse than watching a presenter in silouhette. Some presentation tools like Zoom, even have a green screen option where you can set up a custom background, thereby reducing the chances of your family pet deciding to become your co-presenter. If you don't want to wear a headset, a decent external microphone for around £50 can make a huge difference to the sound quality and professionalism of your event.
6. Practice makes perfect
If you're more accustomed to delivering face-to-face training, it can be hard to switch to an environment where you feel less connected with learners, especially if you're using a course delivery platform that you're not familiar with. Whatever system you're using, practice with a small group of people, so plan how you're going to interact with learners and know enough to be able to help anyone who encounters any technical difficulties. Last but not least, be rigorous about your time-keeping, which matters even more in a virtual environment where there's far greater potential for distraction.
There are many benefits to online learning but it’s easy for those benefits to be eroded if a course is not delivered following best practice guidelines. There are lots of great products out there for delivering courses live online but our advice is not to get unduly fixated about all the bells and whistles of a product at the expense of making sure that whatever product you’re using, you do everything you can to ensure that the training is impactful and engaging.