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“What could go wrong?” they asked. “It’ll go fine!” they said. But you know differently. It’s virtual training…on a computer…over the internet. Literally anything can go wrong. Reality is, you can’t completely avoid glitches when training in the virtual classroom. Between the technology and human factors, something is bound to happen within the 2-3 hours of your session. So, what can you do, as a facilitator, to help minimize the impact of glitches on the users and on the delivery of the course itself?
The first rule of thumb—BE PREPARED! Second rule of thumb—REMAIN CALM!
Sure. Staying calm is easy to say and more difficult to do in the moment. It doesn’t have to be difficult, though, if you’re prepared and have a process to resolve technical issues. Below are several ways you can equip yourself and your participants for successful training—despite the glitches.
Keep a Troubleshooting Guide Handy
A troubleshooting guide is a knowledgebase of problems and solutions for situations you, or your participants, may encounter in your training session. At the end of each course or session, be sure to record any undocumented problems and solutions so they can be added to your guide. We recommend keeping a paper-based copy of this guide with you during any virtual session.
Work with a Producer
Facilitating a virtual session with a co-facilitator, such as a producer, provides you with a backup should either of you lose your connection. Also, a producer can focus on any participant technical issues while the instructor continues delivering the material. Always ensure you and your producer establish a contingency plan for dealing with unexpected emergencies.
Have a Backup for Your Backup
Both you and your co-facilitator should always facilitate an online session with two computers—one main and one backup. We also recommend having your phone handy in case you lose your Wi-Fi connection. This allows you to remain connected with your co-facilitator through the phone network.
Prepare Your Participants
Send an email to participants ahead of the training with detailed instructions for connecting to the virtual classroom. List the required hardware and software they will need, as well as specifics on audio. Ask them to log into the classroom 15 minutes early so any technical issues can be handled before the session starts.
Technology can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Taking the time to ensure you, your co-facilitator, and your participants are well prepared is time well spent. This helps to create peace of mind and enables you to focus on providing training that is as seamless and effective as possible.
For more tips on how to handle and resolve technical problems and glitches in the virtual classroom, check out The Virtual Trainer workshop. Learn the key skills and feel confident facilitating a virtual session.