Photo by: Damian Zaleski via Unsplash
Many organizations say they are using virtual training or are planning to implement it. However, there’s more to virtual training than simply repurposing PowerPoint slides in a virtual classroom platform. With so many organizations moving to online training, it’s important to adhere to quality instructional design principles. When the design is solid and interactive, virtual classroom training can be an effective way to learn.
Your first step should be to assess the type of content your course includes. Is it technical, interpersonal, conceptual, or a combination? The type of content drives many of your instructional design decisions. With the key learning objectives in mind, determine the end goal and choose the best way to achieve it within the virtual classroom. Decide on the balance between presenting information, discussing information, and building skill. If learners don’t need to be together to complete a particular activity, consider taking it offline. This leaves the virtual classroom time for key content and engaging online learning and application. Typically, virtual classroom sessions last about 60-180 minutes, with 120 minutes being the ideal. If you have too much content for this time frame, consider breaking it into multiple sessions.
Once you’ve reviewed your learning objectives, you’re ready to shape the learning activities. Create a memorable, interactive, and engaging learning experience that allows many opportunities for the trainees to apply their new skills. Virtual classroom platforms offer a variety of tools that instructional designers and trainers can creatively use to engage participants. Utilize synchronous tools such as breakout rooms, polls, chat, and whiteboard to create an interactive learning environment. Keep the adult learning principles in mind throughout your design process, and interactivity and engagement levels will naturally keep your learners motivated to participate.
Finally, structure your training so that it becomes a high-quality learning experience. The events that take place in the virtual classroom should focus on the learners, not on the presentation. Select activities for maximum participant involvement. The industry standards currently suggest learners should have the opportunity to engage or interact every three to five minutes. Keep interaction levels high by creating facilitator, producer, and participant materials so that all stakeholders have a grasp of the structure and can adhere to the high degree of interaction.
We have the ability and technology to take virtual classroom training to an entirely new level. Design successful virtual classroom training by reviewing your content, shaping the learning activities to meet the needs of the learners, and then structuring the training so that learners get the chance to collaborate and engage with each other in a variety of ways.
If your organization is in the midst of the virtual classroom revolution, or about to jump on board, get the tools and techniques you need to design successful virtual training by enrolling in Langevin’s Instructional Design for the Virtual Trainer workshop.