Are you struggling to maintain the learning value of your events in the virtual space? Amber Winter offers some ideas to elevate your events to another level.
In 2020, organisations pivoted training to the virtual sphere with varying levels of success – while virtual events had some benefits (such as increased accessibility), many also had decreased educational efficacy when compared to in-person efforts.
While organisations are inching toward a post-pandemic reality, virtual and hybrid events are still sticking around for the future. How can you get the best of both worlds with virtual and hybrid training events in 2021, pairing the benefits of virtual with the educational efficacy of in-person?
To maintain educational value in your next virtual training event, consider the following tips:
- Create opportunities for active participation
- Provide access to educational resources
- Work with a consultant.
Recruiting and retaining talent is a challenge for many organisations in the post-pandemic world and it well known that personal development is an important factor in retaining strong employees. Let’s dive into the three tips you can use to maintain this learning despite the ongoing use of virtual and hybrid events.
Prioritise creating an inclusive environment by setting some ground rules for all participants.
Create opportunities for active participation
One of the biggest challenges to maintaining educational value with virtual events is that learners can easily step away from their computers, open a new tab, or otherwise grow distracted from the material. It’s significantly easier to blatantly not pay attention when you’re in the comfort of your own home than it is to do so in a crowded conference room.
Because of this, you’ll want to incorporate opportunities for active participation into your virtual event, such as:
- Breakout sessions
- Discussion boards
- Live chat
- Live polling
- Question and answer sessions.
Just as with live events, it’s good to remember that some of your learners may be facing virtual social anxiety when it comes to speaking out during the event. Prioritise creating an inclusive environment by setting some ground rules for all participants. For example, actively supporting one another’s ideas and speaking at least once are good ways to ensure all participants feel comfortable engaging.
Provide access to educational resources
Even with the engagement methods from the last section, that doesn’t mean that every single trainee will tune into every session. Life happens and all it takes is an unstable internet connection for a participant’s virtual educational experience to be disrupted.
Ensure that participants can receive educational value from your virtual event regardless of the circumstances by providing:
- Transcripts and recordings of all live sessions
- Downloadable copies of all resources and learning materials, such as PDFs and slide decks
- Additional resources, such as lists of supplementary readings recommended by speakers.
Ensuring content availability is one of the core tenets of providing an inclusive learning experience. But, accessibility isn’t the only benefit of providing access to educational resources. Participants who were able to attend sessions can also revisit these resources to refresh their memories after the fact.
Work with an elearning consultant
There are consultants that specialise in virtual events and others that specialise in creating effective eLearning experiences. To maintain the educational value of your next event, consider working with a consultant with expertise in both areas.
An elearning consultant with experience in virtual events can help you with:
- Configuring your virtual event platform or learning management system to host interactive training events
- Instructional design, ensuring that your learning objectives and goals are accomplished effectively through digital means
- Creating learning materials, from authoring full courses to providing more straightforward graphic design services
- Providing administrative support, allowing you to focus on the training of attendees rather than answering basic questions that arise
- Creating reports and data visualisations to help you understand the educational efficacy of your virtual training event.
An elearning consultant with experience in virtual events will be an asset to your team long after the move to virtual and hybrid events is over. Even when you do return to in-person education events, this partner can continue assisting your team with content development strategy, LMS administration, course conversion, learning technology sourcing, and more.
Last year, organisations pivoted all training to the internet with haste, leaving little time to really work through the kinks and overcome obstacles. Now, over a year after the move to working from home, it appears that virtual and hybrid events are sticking around for the near future.
Now that you can truly plan for these events, you can incorporate a few best practices learnt in the past year. By prioritising active engagement, sharing educational resources, and working with an eLearning expert, you can maintain the educational value of in-person experiences in your next virtual event.
About the author
Amber Winter is the director of sales & marketing at Web Courseworks