Remote learning is here to stay. Even after the pandemic is over, organizations will likely continue offering virtual learning and development opportunities. Not only does remote learning provide substantial cost savings, but it is also convenient, flexible, and more accessible. However, simply moving a face-to-face class into a virtual platform—without rethinking the design—is a sure path to boring training that doesn’t get results.
This is the first of two posts with tips for leveraging remote learning effectively to ensure success. In this post, I’ll share five planning and design tips for more engaging and interactive remote learning opportunities.
In my work as a consultant, I’ve seen organizations try the “quick and dirty” way of converting traditional training to remote learning. They slap the same PowerPoint slides they use in the classroom into a virtual meeting tool and present the information the same way. It doesn’t work. They end up with participants in front of a computer screen listening to an instructor lecture at them for hours. It’s a painful experience for everyone.
In a face-to-face class, participants escape their day-to-day job responsibilities. The facilitator can control most of the distractions and easily see when participants need clarification or a break.
In a virtual class, participants may be in a cubicle with many things competing for their attention—from coworker conversations, to emails popping up, to their supervisor interrupting with inquiries and requests. Or they may be attending from home, with other distractions such as helping children with their own remote classes.
The energy in virtual class is also different. Think about how different it feels when you watch a concert on TV compared to going to the concert live (ah… remember those days?) It’s just a different vibe, and it’s similar for Zoom vs. an in-person class.
Don’t get me wrong. Remote learning can be every bit as engaging and effective as a face-to-face class. As with other learning experiences, it takes strategic design and expert facilitation. Here are five tips for planning and designing remote learning.
Good learning experience design is intentional, considering the needs of the learners in your session and the best ways to teach the content. Here are some guidelines for strategic design of virtual learning:
Try not to speak for more than a few minutes at a time without some sort of interaction with participants. Try sprinkling various types of activities throughout your session, such as these:
If there’s one place you can expect Murphy’s Law to apply, it’s a virtual class. Any time you are using technology, you should be prepared for “what if” scenarios such as these:
It’s a good idea to have a producer (assistant or cohost) like my friend Kate available during virtual sessions. This person can help monitor the chat, manage polls, and resolve technical issues for participants. (Plus, Kate has the uncanny—perhaps superhuman—ability to be lively and cheerful early in the morning.)
Practice with the producer ahead of time, so it is very clear who’s doing what during the session. Privileges vary by role for different virtual meeting platforms, so it is important to identify the appropriate roles to assign for each moderator, facilitator, or cohost.
If you’re a facilitator or content expert, consider involving an instructional designer when planning for your class. This is especially important if you’re converting* an existing face-to-face class to remote learning.
*Soapbox moment: The term “convert” is a misnomer. It’s not like saving a Word document as a PDF. Changing a traditional course to remote learning requires thoughtful redesign.
Unless bandwidth is a problem, use a webcam to allow participants to see your face and make a personal connection with you.
*Bonus tip: Please turn off ceiling fans. They can cause a strobing or flickering effect that can be troublesome or even dangerous for participants with vestibular or seizure disorders.
Using the five tips presented here will help you design and prepare for more engaging and interactive remote learning.
Next week, I’ll share five facilitation tips for more engaging and interactive remote learning.
Here’s an interesting article about How to Launch a Flipped Classroom.
Check out these related posts:
What do you recommend when designing and planning remote learning sessions? Leave a comment below!
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