Over the past few years, we have seen a trend towards companies offering more online, on-demand training. As recent events shift more learners away from their offices and into remote work, we expect to see this demand for virtual learning options increase further.
Whether you have an existing training program and curriculum in place, or whether you’re looking for new ways to engage remote audiences, here are ten tips for getting started with virtual education.
- Define your objectives: With virtual education, it’s much easier for students to leave or simply “check out.” Adult learners require you to provide context and the tools with which they can take charge of their own learning. This starts with a clear outline of your learning objectives and what you’re hoping your learners accomplish.
- Consider engagement techniques: Use polls, ask questions, encourage sharing, and/or prompt your audience to act on their own (e.g. Think of a time when you…., Close your eyes and imagine…). You may consider using training software or meeting software rather than webinar software. Webinar programs tend to only have one-way verbal engagement (i.e. learners can only type questions).
- Control your environment: Pick a quiet place where people aren’t walking back and forth, and space is not cluttered, etc. Minimizing external distractions will help maintain learner engagement.
- Use your camera: It may be uncomfortable at first, but people relate to people. Consider turning on your camera to make the session more engaging and give your audience someone to connect with. Test your camera angle and lighting first.
- Optimize your audio quality: Poor audio is really distracting. Investing even just a little bit in good sound equipment or a high-quality USB microphone makes a huge difference for your learners.
- Develop follow-up materials: Follow up with your learners with recaps, slides, links, and/or other activities that they can do to help reinforce their knowledge.
- Stay calm: Technical difficulties happen to everyone. Take them in stride. It’s often helpful to have another person in the room with you to help troubleshoot with students and assist if needed.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously: It’s okay to take a casual approach to teach online, just as you might use a more conversational tone in a classroom setting.
- Don’t let perfect get in the way of good: Production quality matters to an extent, but authenticity is king. Don’t fret if something isn’t 100% as you’d like it to be. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you’ll never get started.
- Reflect and do it all over again: Most learning sessions happen more than once. Learn from what you did the last time and make it even better next time!