“It’s quiet out there. Too quiet, if you ask me …”
Sure, it might be a cliché, but the line hits pretty close to home for just about anyone who has been in the position of delivering a live, online training session. For most virtual course leaders, the skepticism is well-founded. No matter how compelling the presentation, there is always a risk of learners mentally “checking out” at some point during the event. Yet, the upside in terms of cost-effectiveness and flexibility of virtual delivery more than compensate for those participants who get left behind, right?
And then came the sound of crickets.
In truth, virtual delivery doesn’t come down to an either/or proposition. Rather, it offers a means to make traditional classroom training come alive in ways that engage learners, keeping them from merely clicking through coursework on reflex alone.
Sherry Dosher, a performance support coordinator/instructional designer, working in Chesterfield County, Virginia, has seen it happen: “If an organization simply puts PowerPoint bullets online, the end result will still be death by PowerPoint. It’ll just be DOA at the computer versus the classroom.”
Like Paul Cypher, founder and president of CypherWorx, we believe there is a place for both online and in-person learning in every organization. In this kind of blended approach, it’s customary to use interactive “modules and training to provide core learning and communities of practice and then host classroom sessions for employees to share their learning outcomes and methods for instituting what they learned.”
Here are four things to keep an eye on:
- The need for face time. Training must clock-in first with the business goals of the organization, but meeting the specialized learning needs of staff members runs a close second. In that regard, supplementing online content on a 1:1 basis provides the information “stickiness” that leads to greater levels of retention.
- Revisiting the subject matter. You can’t go back to the classroom whenever you need information from a class, but you can go back online to a course that was virtually delivered to your desktop.
- Identifying your instructional goals. What do you want participants to do differently? What do you want them to know that they didn’t know before? Some content is not necessarily appropriate for online delivery (i.e., CPR training, etc.), so make certain what works on paper works in practice.
- Setting prerequisites for participation. The more you know about your learners, the more effective you are going to be at retaining their attention. Most of us have experienced classes where one person who didn’t know what they should have known ends up misdirecting the entire session.
The stumbles of virtually delivered, online coursework are to be expected, but they shouldn’t cut your training initiatives down at the knees. Give us the chance to help you piece together the solutions.
Let us know where you stand.