Transitioning from in-classroom, instructor-led training to a virtual instructor-led format is about much more than just going through a training session over a Zoom call. How can you best transition to effective virtual learning facilitation?
Best Practices for Facilitating Virtual Learning
- Master the platform, and help learners do the same: Not every organization will have the flexibility to choose their learning platform, but it’s important to be as familiar with its functionality as possible. While many learning platforms share similar features, don’t assume they’re all the same. Spending time interacting with the platform long before your event gets instructors as comfortable as possible for leading your training event; it will also help you prepare learners to use the platform. Many remote learners have never used a virtual learning platform before, and the learning curve can be steep. Since this is foundational for successful learning, it’s important to provide instructions on accessing the platform, a tutorial of tools they’ll need to use, and the contact information for who to reach out to if they have a technical issue to troubleshoot.
- Set the expectation before the event: In an in-person classroom environment, learners often get a syllabus or event agenda that includes what the event will cover, including topics and scheduled break times. This is equally important for virtual classrooms. Along with a pre-event agenda and event schedule, facilitators should send out a brief tutorial on the learning platform and what tools they’ll need to be familiar with. Some instructors also send over relevant resources like a learners guide, worksheets, and videos before the event. Encourage learners to log in early so they can troubleshoot any issues before the sessions begins.
- Start with a demonstration: You’ve sent out all the resources and materials, but before diving into the curriculum on the day of the event, walk your learners through a brief, live demonstration of how to use the platform and its features.
- Ask for feedback – often: Avoid turning eLearning into a lecture. Because a virtual classroom doesn’t offer the same kind of dynamic as in-person learning, it can be harder to gauge learner engagement. Use the platform tools available to you to solicit feedback, including learner polls, whiteboard collaboration, or asking questions to be answered over the voice feature or in a group chat.
- Schedule in breaks: Learning from home might, in theory, offer users the ability to take breaks, run to the bathroom, or get a snack as needed. But scheduled breaks are important because they can limit interruptions and improve learner focus. Non-stop lecture is tedious and drives down learner engagement.
- Don’t scale too quickly: There’s a temptation to believe that an online classroom should be hundreds of students, since there are no space limitations. But scaling a virtual classroom infinitely is less likely to support successful learning. Like an in-person classroom, there should be a smaller ratio of learners to instructors to be able to effectively engage with learners, answer questions, and encourage feedback and collaboration.
- Practice: Rehearsal gives instructors the ability to practice with the platform during a run-through and troubleshoot any issues before going live. It also helps facilitators get more familiar with the nuances of running an in-person event versus a virtual one. The dynamic and energy of an online classroom can be very different, and practicing delivery and presentation goes a long way in keeping learners engaged.
- Ask for help: Recruiting a co-facilitator can help support trainings. This role would help run sessions and events more smoothly by managing the flow of communication between the facilitator and the learners. Using this co-facilitating method, facilitators can focus on instruction, presentation, and answering questions, while the co-facilitator can handle soliciting and submitting feedback through polls and quizzes, encouraging group collaboration, making sure that no questions get missed, and keeping the training on track.
- Get certified: If your organization is going to offer more virtual instruction, having a certified virtual instructor might help make the overall transition easier and ensure the success of the program. Ardent offers structured and engaging training sessions for certifying online facilitators. These types of events help facilitators master the platform to deliver a superior learning experience that drives engagement, as well as teach the most effective instruction methods for online learners.
Ardent can help you design the content for your virtual instructor-led events, help your instructors transition to virtual classrooms, or even lead your events for you.
Get in touch today to discover how we can help support your eLearning strategy.