Social distancing need not be a barrier to delivering training, says Tanya Boyd.
Reading time: 4 minutes
Few industries have been left unaffected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and L&D is no exception.
As travel restrictions and working from home directives come into place, L&D providers across the globe must get creative with their delivery or face the prospect of having to cancel multiple sessions.
An excellent way to minimise disruption is by putting virtual solutions in place to keep your learning experiences on track and even help you innovate.
Insights Learning and Development is currently responding to this new challenge as an opportunity. In the space of a few days the team has expanded its online approach to deliver additional programmes virtually.
Here are some top tips to help you and your teams deliver effective training in a virtual space:
Be clear on what can be delivered virtually
Insights’ workshops are usually set up for minimum half days, but they are now proposing sessions of two and a half hours. Clearly not everything can be included so there is a need to be extremely clear on what can be achieved, and how this will be followed up to ensure complete learning.
Think about what format you might need to deliver a meaningful experience. Perhaps you could you do two separate online sessions, or follow up with a face-to-face in couple of months?
Make sure you have the right technology in place
Analyse your needs closely and think very carefully about the type of systems you need to deliver a successful experience. It can be disheartening for facilitators and participants if technology is not up to scratch, or unable to keep people engaged.
A solution to the engagement problem is asking people to participate constantly – for example by drawing on interactive whiteboards and taking part in polls
Adobe Connect is fantastic as it has a lot of interactive functionality such as virtual whiteboards, polls and chatbots. Zoom is another excellent option, especially when working with smaller groups using a lot of dialogue.
Make sure you have the right people in place
Don’t underestimate how many people you might need to make sessions work and make sure you bring enough technical people on from the start.
While a face-to-face session can often be run by a lone facilitator, it is essential to have a ‘producer’ involved when delivering virtually to ensure a seamless experience.
The producer can monitor the session from a technical standpoint, taking care of all the extra functionality such as polls and breakout rooms, so the facilitator can truly focus on what they do best – facilitating!
Make sure you set the scene and signpost to the future
What are the expectations? What do participants need to know before they join the session? Make sure you send these materials well in advance – at Insights, they share an e-learning module.
Also think about what you can send them away with afterwards, to help participants as they go forward.
For example as well as a job aid to support application of the concepts from the session, Insights allows access to an image bank so participants can download images such as their order of colour energy blocks for them to start using digitally.
Invest in the tools you need to keep clients engaged and constantly learning
It is far easier to get distracted by emails or disengage when taking part in virtual training. For this reason, Insights has worked with vendor partner Mondo Learning Solutions to make the most of tools to keep participants on track.
A solution to the engagement problem is asking people to participate constantly – for example by drawing on interactive whiteboards and taking part in polls. That way it is harder for participants to disengage. Using webcams also really helps, as it is hard to be distracted when you are visible!
Empower your people with everything they need to be successful
Create notes, tools, scripts, and advice on how to approach things. For example, when should the producer activate certain interactive tools? What should the facilitator say at different points of the session? Share this widely with all practitioners to give them the resources they need.
Challenge perceptions about virtual training
Often people think that if they are a great face-to-face facilitator, they can automatically do it virtually. It isn’t always the case.
Some people also need more help than others embracing new ways of working, to make sure they are happy with the technology and facilitating exercises virtually.
Ultimately, you need to invest time in teaching facilitators how to do their job virtually. It is also well worth learning from other companies who execute virtual delivery really well.
Consider individual preferences
Try to appeal to all personality preferences. For instance, sending information prior to the session will appeal to people with more of an introverted nature. And include reflective exercises as well as more interactive and engaging exercises to appeal to all personality types.
It is heartening to see the innovation, agility and resilience being shown across the globe right now. By reframing this as an opportunity, it is possible to learn from each other and enhance the development of your people and clients.
About the author
Tanya Boyd is an organisational effectiveness consultant at Insights Learning and Development