While some of us were well on our way to taking our training virtual, the age of COVID left others scrambling to get creative quickly and convert to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) using WebEx, Zoom, or other tools of that nature. In our post-pandemic world, we can step back, evaluate our training needs, and strategize engaging learning opportunities that will meet our learners’ current (and evolving!) needs.
One of the most common misconceptions is that VILTs don’t provide the same level of activity that you get from classroom training or ILTs. However, a successful VILT is designed to be more engaging and interactive.
VILTs have had a bad reputation for creating a disconnect between the learner and instructor since learners can become distracted during remote learning. Do you find that your current virtual sessions have become a one-way communication? Or a PowerPoint page-turner? Can you feel or hear the multi-tasking taking place during the class?
So how can you prevent all of this from happening? Engagement, engagement, engagement!
How to Design Learning with Engagement in Mind
You want to begin by designing the VILT course with more activity or more learner engagement than what you would for an ILT. For example:
- Create more screen actions — ask thought- or idea-provoking questions on one slide. Let the learners discuss, answer, and share their responses. Your next slide can provide the answers that you were looking for from the learners.
- Include activities using a whiteboard, on-screen annotations, and role-plays. (What!? Did she just say role-plays? Virtually? Yes, I’ll get to that in a moment.) Some VILT delivery tools, such as WebEx, have breakout rooms where learners can work together in groups, then come back to the class and present their findings.
- Use engaging pictures and lots of white space on the slides.
Whether you are the designer or the instructor for the VILT, make sure you know the capabilities of the tool technology being used and take advantage of the tools the technology offers.
Remember, engagement must be purposeful and intentional, not just thrown in for engagement’s sake.
How to Deliver Your Training with Engagement in Mind
If possible, hire a producer. Don’t have one? We’ve got you covered with Innovators on Demand®! This is someone who can monitor chats and answer questions presented on the call or in a chat. They can set up just-in-time polling questions when you find the learners struggling with a certain topic and push or send handouts, activity documents, and so forth to the learners. Other points to remember:
- Turn over presentation control to a volunteer and have them demonstrate how they would do a task. Use chat to get learners to weigh in on a topic, and use polling questions.
- Keep your energy high, and check for understanding using status icons.
One of the biggest points I’d like to make is — DON’T just read from the slides if presenting using PowerPoint. A fast way to lose engagement with your audience is to read what they can read themselves.
How to Adjust Your Approach to the Learners
Just like in a classroom environment, be prepared to adjust your approach to help the learners with a difficult situation. You can use the same techniques virtually that you use in the classroom such as:
- Role-play with a volunteer — provide a client or situation scenario and model the behavior — then ask for someone else to try. You can also set the role-play up the same way you would in the classroom. Provide information for the learners playing the employee and the client via the tool technology or private chat (producer can help with this) and have the rest of the class be the observers as your two volunteers role-play.
You don’t always have to ask for volunteers; call on individuals from the attendees list. Learners often stay engaged if they know they can just be called on to answer.
- Brainstorm and rank ideas. Capture all the ideas on the whiteboard or a blank PowerPoint screen. Once you have all the ideas, rank them in order of importance using chat or polling.
- Send the learners worksheets or case studies via the tool technology or email. Tell the learners to pair up and use chat or their third-party instant messenger.
- Ask the learners to use chat and summarize what they took away from the latest topic. Share some of the answers with the class.
These are just a few of the many ways you can make your VILTs interesting, interactive, and engaging. With some innovative thinking, you can take almost any classroom activity and make it work virtually.