A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who attended last week’s session: “3 Simple Steps to Convert Classroom Training to Online Training.” If you are looking for the white paper or any checklists that I mentioned, look under the “Resources” tab on the home page of my site. And if you are looking for more information about my current book, Virtual Training Basics, click here. My new book, The Virtual Training Guidebook: How to Design, Deliver, and Implement Live Online Learning, will be available soon. Stay tuned to my website (www.cindyhuggett.com) for details!
There were a few common questions that I didn’t have time to answer during the session. Here they are in more detail. If you don’t see your question answered, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to share information and resources!
Q: What do you mean by virtual training? Why aren’t we talking today about __________ (recorded webcasts, podcasts, moocs, social media, etc)?
A: There are many ways to define “virtual training.” Some think of it as any type of training that’s conducted online, while others have a more narrow definition. My definition of virtual training is: “a highly interactive online synchronous instructor-led class, that has defined learning objectives, with participants who are connected individually from dispersed locations, using a web-based classroom platform.” In other words, I’m focused on live online learning.
Q: What’s the recommended length of time for a synchronous virtual training class?
A: Virtual training classes tend to be shorter than their in-person classroom counterparts. A typical virtual session is 60-75 minutes in length. If you have more content than that length of time allows, consider chunking the content into smaller parts. It would be better to have three separate 90-minute virtual classes than to have a 4.5 hour continuous session.
Q: Then how do I convert a lengthy (2 days, 3 days, 4 days, etc) in-person course to a virtual class?
A: This is a fantastic and very common question! The short answer is that you would most likely turn the course into a blended learning solution instead of trying to keep it all in one long virtual class. Go back to the learning objectives of the course, determine which ones belong in the synchronous virtual classroom and which ones could become asynchronous assignments. Then design a blended solution that works for both the content and the learners. It will be many smaller chunks of learning content, using various delivery modalities, spread out over time.
Q: How many participants should be in a virtual training class?
A: Using my definition of virtual training (found above), the number of participants in a virtual training class will most likely be the same number of participants in the equivalent in-person class. In other words, if the in-person traditional class is designed for 15 participants, then the equivalent virtual class would also be for 15 participants. Designing a live session for 200 participants isn’t the same as designing a live session for 20 participants.
Several of you asked follow-on questions about upsizing the class numbers in order to take advantage of the virtual classroom. While it’s possible to put large numbers of participants into one virtual class… just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s one thing to achieve economies of scale with an information-only, one-way presentation. It’s another thing to help participants learn a new skill and through practice be able to apply that skill on the job. If your goal is the former (presentation style only) then by all means take advantage of web conferencing tools that allow you to do that. But if your goal is behavior change and learning new skills, then design and hold sessions for small groups.
Q: What’s a “producer”? And why are they important for virtual training?
A: A producer is someone who works behind-the-scenes during a virtual class to ensure it runs smoothly. The producer usually handles all technical aspects of a virtual session, such as helping participants with technology questions or troubleshooting any issues that arise. The producer may also help with activities, such as opening poll questions or keeping track of time.
There are several benefits to having both a facilitator and a producer in every virtual session. First, when you have two facilitators, they share responsibilities for the virtual class. One person can drive the technology while the other facilitates the activities. Second, if there are any technical problems during the virtual class, one person can troubleshoot and assist participants while the other person continues facilitating. In addition, having two voices can increase participant engagement by creating a more interesting discussion. Finally, for those who are new to virtual delivery, having a “co-pilot” can help you get more comfortable in the virtual classroom.
Thanks again, everyone! See you next time!