Due to COVID-19, many organizations are searching for ways to engage their newly virtual employees while still maintaining or upgrading their skillsets. It’s always important to remember basic instructional design principles when developing learning content, but when you’re producing a virtual training event, the implementation phase requires additional time and effort to ensure a positive learning experience for both the instructor and the participants.
Here are some best practices that can help optimize your online learning event:
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The saying “Practice Makes Perfect” takes on a new meaning when it comes to a virtual learning environment! It’s important to ensure that all facilitators have an opportunity to practice their presentation within the virtual platform a few days before the session. This helps familiarize facilitators with the webinar software so they can be prepared as to what to expect. This also allows everyone to recognize and anticipate any potential pitfalls and mitigate these in advance!
Ensure a Quality Participant Experience
Ahead of your event, make certain that you have properly notified your participants of the learning objectives and encourage them to submit their questions in advance. If the session has several attendees, everyone may not get an opportunity to speak or be seen. Allowing some interaction ahead of time will enable and encourage these distant learners to remain engaged in the session. If the participant size allows, give them the opportunity to engage by asking questions via the Q&A, Chat or other messaging features. Also, utilizing polls within the session is a great way to gauge your audience’s knowledge on a topic and to check for understanding after each content area.
As a virtual facilitator, make sure your camera is turned on! This provides the participants with a sense of connection and helps to reinforce your content. If possible, allowing your participants to utilize their video function helps to increase the feeling of connection between fellow participants, as well as yourself. In addition to increasing the feeling of togetherness during a virtual training, having your participants on camera also encourages their participation and engagement because they are seen and cannot fade into the background.
In producing a virtual learning event, it’s important to remember that this is a team effort! Aside from your facilitator(s), you should be prepared to have one or two people who are well versed in the virtual platform to assist with fielding questions, assist with advancing slides, having backup access to the presentation, etc. This helps the facilitator(s) to ensure a quality participant experience, while hopefully preventing any mishaps or glitches along the way. Check out this great checklist to help assist in preparation for your next virtual learning event!
Don’t forget to ask for feedback at the end of your virtual learning event. Participant feedback is a gift! Use this information to improve your next virtual session and to gather ideas from your learners on what topics they are interested in hearing more about.
In closing, it’s important to continue to offer learning and development opportunities during this time. By preparing for this event in advance, you can ensure a quality virtual learning event for both you and your audience!