Paul Norrington concludes his interview with Janet Gover about becoming a virtual trainer.
Reading time: 2m 30s.
Based on your experience so far, how effective is virtual learning compared with face-to-face delivery?
I’m delighted with how it’s going so far. Regarding my feedback as a trainer – my delivery, my knowledge, the way I interact – I’m getting exactly the same kind of comments and ratings as I do with face-to-face delivery.
We hold an exam at the end of the course. Initial exam results were lower for those attending the virtual programme, but they have improved and are now on a par with those attending conventional programmes.
The virtual course design incorporates less overall time live with the trainer, and includes a significant amount of independent practice between the live modules. Initially the self-study element was not working too well, but I now emphasise the importance of this, and follow up on a daily basis.
It’s very common that not all of the content you would cover in a face-to-face programme is covered in the live online version. The modular approach lends itself to self-directed study and practice in between. We just need to think about how to engage learners in that element too. So what’s next for you?
I will be working with Avid to apply the same delivery methods for several other Avid training courses. In addition to delivering training for Avid, I’m a novelist and teach creative writing. I’m planning to use live online training to reach a wider audience.
What would be your final message to trainers considering ‘going virtual’?
This expands the possibilities for training enormously. Trainers who want to move with the times and aren’t willing to have a go at virtual delivery are going to struggle. Clients are demanding this more and more. Three final tips:
- Get your head in the right place. Have a clear picture of where you want virtual training take you and why.
- Even if you are an experienced trainer, be prepared to go back to square one when learning to master this type of training. Give yourselves time to practise, practise, practise. Start with small class sizes, then build up gradually.
- Be patient with the learners – it’s new for them too!
As a species, we’re not good with change, and I think both trainers and students can let uncertainty over the new delivery method get in the way of the classroom experience. But that will change as online classrooms become more common. And they will.
I’m with you all the way, Janet. Being competent and confident with virtual delivery is a big feather in any trainer’s cap. Most will combine with face-to-face delivery, for which there will always be a place. I still deliver in the conventional classroom too, and had a major revelation recently – feedback I get from this format has been getting and better.
My conclusion: learning to master successful engagement in the virtual classroom has made me a better trainer all round.