Happy November, everyone! Fall is in full swing and I hope it finds you well. Autumn is a time of transition, typically associated with new beginnings. So, for everyone who has been easing into a new virtual classroom (VC) career, I hope to help make that transition smoother with three tips for VC producers. This article is part two of the series so feel free to check out part one as well!
Tell Fear to Take a Backseat
One of my absolute favorite training mantras comes from our Virtual Classroom Producer workshop and it is the first of four steps we teach about remaining calm—step one is to just breathe. This is a phrase I live by. When dealing with technology, things can and will happen. Problems will arise. Also, when trying to switch tasks and juggle numerous actions simultaneously, you will likely make mistakes. But that’s okay. You can’t expect perfection right out of the gate! Each mistake you make, and problem you solve, will teach you something valuable about your lesson plan or platform. Remember to take a deep breath, assess the issue, find a solution, and then make note of everything so you are prepared for next time. Trust me, there will be a next time!
Find Your Resources and Use Them
This is crucial. If you’re new to producing in the virtual classroom, you’ll want to find out exactly what training materials and resources are available to you and make good use of them. I am constantly watching recordings of previous workshops, reviewing participant manuals and lesson plans, completing e-learning modules, and watching software tutorials. Most importantly, I stay in close contact with my SMEs (subject-matter experts). Your organization probably has a few key players who either have information that could help you or tips and tricks for doing things that will make your life easier! Find your SMEs and keep that channel of communication open.
Work with Heart
This is my final tip and it is so important. Your first few sessions can feel daunting and stressful because so much relies on you. It can feel even more difficult to face those expectations when you don’t feel you have experience on your side. But here’s the thing. Your participants are likely struggling even more. In this current COVID-19 climate, many organizations are scrambling to convert their existing traditional instructor-led training (ILT) to the VC. So, your efforts to guide and help will mean everything to your participants.
The first course I ever produced was The Virtual Trainer, and while I remember shaking through my first session, what stands out most from that week was coaching one of our participants. Due to the pandemic, she suddenly had to switch career paths and the virtual classroom was completely new to her. In the middle of her final coaching session, she paused to thank me profusely for helping VC training make sense. It was the most rewarding feeling in the world watching her do well in that last exercise, and I carry that feeling with me into every workshop. I never forget what good training can do for someone, and I encourage you to also let that be a motivating force for you every time you step into an instructional setting.
I hope you can use these virtual classroom tips and encourage you to share them with someone who might also benefit. If you could share only one tip for success in the virtual classroom, what would it be?