Prepare Yourself for Virtual Learning
“Trainers need to prepare themselves to facilitate and to engage with an audience they don’t see,” says Cindy Huggett, training consultant and author of Virtual Training Basics (www.cindyhuggett.com). In an article in our sister publication, Training Forum, Huggett gives three steps for this process:
1. Trainers need to “learn the platform—in and out. Know every button,” she recommends.
2. Be well versed in the technology, test the technology in advance, and make sure learners are familiar with it. “It’s not about technology, it’s about the learning,” Huggett says. “You want to take the technology piece out of the way. It should be seamless, so we’re not challenged by the technology.”
3. Since you cannot see the learners you are instructing, it is important to plan ways to use your voice and available tools to engage participants—even before the session begins, Huggett says.
The biggest benefit of virtual training is that learners do not have to leave their office, but that also can create a huge challenge—in terms of distractions interfering with learning, Huggett explains.
To help engage learners, she suggests requiring learners to log in 10 minutes before a training session starts and engaging them immediately by providing opportunities for them to chat with you and other learners.
If learners have never used the technology before, logging in early also gives them an opportunity to test links before the session begins and to help put them in a mindset in which they are ready to learn, she says.
Once training begins, efforts to engage learners should continue. That could include providing a direct connection to the course content by asking a poll question about which of several challenges they face, for example, she says.
One of the biggest mistakes that virtual trainers make is to spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of a training session reviewing the course agenda, Huggett explains. “You’ve lost them after the first few minutes if they aren’t engaged.”