How to go from classroom to virtual classroom training quickly

You’ve been tasked to turn your classroom-based training into virtual classroom training, you’re worried because you’ve only ever delivered classroom-based training and you’ve heard that virtual classroom training is difficult to understand.  Well, fear not. Although virtual training can be very different to classroom-based, there are also a lot of similarities too.

In order to help you make the transition from classroom-based to virtual classroom training, I’ve compiled a list of tricks and tips to help you get started. I’ve broken this up into what I believe are the three core elements to delivering great remote training.

The 3 core elements to create great virtual training are:

  • Your preparation
  • The level of interaction
  • Your delivery style

Your preparation for virtual training:

As with any training, preparation is key. The preparation differs slightly for virtual classroom training due to the delivery method, meaning there might be some elements you’ve not previously had to consider.  

I’ve outlined six elements you need to consider whilst preparing to deliver your first remote training session.  

What training will you be delivering virtually?

Just because you can deliver training virtually doesn’t mean that you should. Some sessions, dependant upon the content will always be better suited to having face to face interaction. For workshops better suited to face to face it could be that in the interim you offer an online pre-coursework that learners can be learning or practising until you can offer the classroom-based learning. It’s a great way to keep learners warm in the interim.

How much preparation time do you have?

Does the training need to be delivered urgently and virtual is your only choice? If you’ve got more time you could consider a blended learning approach creating pre-work via self-created videos or e-learning? This means when everyone comes to the live remote training with the same base level of understanding.

What software are you planning to use?

There are a lot of options when it comes to virtual training software. Such as Zoom, Go to Meeting, google hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Each platform can be used for remote training, but they all offer different functionality i.e. polls, quizzes, video of all attendees etc. If you have a choice about which platform you can use, look to see which meets your needs best.

What will the maximum capacity be on each session?

Just because you can get 50+ people on virtual classroom training at once doesn’t mean its going to be the best for group dynamics interaction.  The more people on the training the more difficult interaction becomes, due to the management questions or queries coming in the chat.  If you have the luxury of a co-facilitator who can manage the chat for you, this may help manage larger groups.

I see a lot of trainers advertising their webinars as max 20 as a selling point, perhaps this is the typical cut off point.

Are your joining instructions clear?

Make it clear how the learners can access the training, plus any troubleshooting tips for gaining access to your chosen platform. If you want them to have their videos on, make this clear in advance. Similarly, if you are wanting interaction via the microphone give people the heads up to find one, just in case their laptop doesn’t have this functionality.  

If there is an option for a dial-in code, include this in the invite too. I’ve seen many a webinar de-railed by individuals who couldn’t figure out how to get the sound working, so by having the dial-in options on the invite it saves you having to intervene.

Will you be recording the session?

Recording is great for those who may have missed the live training but be careful about what sessions you choose to record and the confidentiality. I.e. I was involved in creating a webinar that involved an internal guest speaker speaking about their personal experiences as a manager. This may not want to be recorded just in-case it involved personal details about employees.

If you do record sessions, will they only be available for the learners to access or will they be put online somewhere where everyone can access afterwards.

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The level of interaction:

Did you know, a survey found that one of the two biggest pet peeves of individuals attending virtual classroom training is the lack of interaction?

With that in mind, try to fit as much interaction as is appropriate into your session. You wouldn’t sit a bunch of people in a classroom and talk at them for an hour solid without giving them the opportunity to interact so why does this suddenly become acceptable for online training?

Tips for interactivity

If you want your training to be engaging keep the interactivity high, this will reduce the likelihood of individuals switching off, surfing the internet or reading their phone etc.

Review your activities

To increase the level of interaction you also need to review your activities. Do your classroom activities lend naturally to a switch to virtual training or do you need to amend what you deliver? You might need to get a little creative here – some activities can probably remain very similar, such as icebreaker introductions. Where other activities may need to change i.e. breakout work in smaller groups and having personal discussions can become difficult.

Utilise pre-work

A good way to bring interaction is to set pre-work. This could be to critically review a topic, read an article, provide feedback etc. This information can then be weaved into the training so individuals feel like they have had an input into the content.

Use the interaction within the software

Utilise the interactivity that your virtual classroom platform provides, most have access to webinars, polls and whiteboards. All of which provide opportunities for interaction that can raise engagement and participation. Something else you can also use virtually to raise engagement and participation is Kahoot! – it’s a fantastic tool for creating engaging and interactive quizzes (who doesn’t love a bit of competition!).

Find out more about online learning tools in my other blog post.

Set the right pace

Timing and pace of content is important – leave plenty time for interaction. One thing to note is it takes longer than you might expect for people to type in their responses into the chat. It doesn’t look good if you rush through the interaction only taking notice of the fastest typers responses. If you move on while learners are still typing, they aren’t focused on what you are saying and they will likely stop interacting due to it not being noticed.

Your delivery style for virtual training:

Remember I mentioned those pet peeves earlier? Well the second is the facilitator reading directly off the slides. This leads me onto some specific tips for you as the trainer.

Your delivery style should differ slightly when delivering training remotely. This is because your voice in online learning becomes one of your strongest assets to engage, use it wisely.

Consider the difference between a radio presenter and a TV presenter. Radio presenters have a much faster pace to keep you listening. They also refer to you in the first person much more, it’s like they’re having a conversation with you and you only, which keeps you engaged. On the other hand, TV presenters are more likely to refer to you in the third person, as a ‘viewer’.

Some tips to improve your presentation style for virtual training:

  • Your pace – if you have a slow pace in the classroom, speed it up for online delivery
  • Your tone – if your tone monotone – add some vocal variety
  • Speak to learner’s individually – When you do interact with your audience do so by name, make it feel personal to keep them engaged

Engaging visuals

Consider the two images below, which are you most likely to want to look at?

How to go from classroom to virtual classroom training quickly - Slide example
How to go from classroom to virtual classroom training quickly - Slide example

Make sure your slides are full of engaging visuals and fun, not pages of text. If you need notes, then have a lesson plan separate to read through to avoid crowded slides.

Visuals are the most powerful way to engage through slides. For slides that to require text use builds so your audience aren’t reading ahead whilst you ad-lib the content.

Add clear comments to your slides too – if you are asking an individual to vote, make this clear on the slide. If you want them to respond in chat box, make this clear on the slide. By adding comments your learners can follow what is required in case they do miss a small part of the audio.

Virtual classroom training may have been thrust into our lives at a faster pace than we were expecting but it’s likely here to stay. Build your confidence and embracing the technology now.

If you’ve found this post useful, you can learn about making online learning transformational here.

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