There is no question that engaging virtual audiences can be extremely difficult for novice instructors, as well as for experienced ones.
Kassy LaBorie, instructional designer, author and principal consultant at Kassy LaBorie Consulting, describes how to break the mold of static lecture-style trainings. Her strategies described below will help ReadyTech instructors ensure the effective delivery of meaningful training that sticks:
1. PLATFORM: Know it inside and out, upside down and all around.
Be an expert of the ReadyTech online training platform. Understand its capabilities, nuances and all its virtual training tools. Click on all the different options and utilize an Assistant Instructor for extra platform expertise. If you're using ReadyTech's platform and want additional training, contact your Customer Success Manager to schedule a training session or visit ReadyTech’s Knowledge Base.
2. PRODUCER: Don’t go it alone.
An Assistant Instructor can help distinguish your session, as well as support you, the participants and the technology. They are an extra pair of hands, eyes, and ears!
Meet your Assistant Instructor in advance for pre-session preparation to discuss the best ways to be supported. Learn from each session by conducting a thorough debrief. For virtual instructor-led training (VILT) courses, ReadyTech recommends having an Assistant Instructor if the class is greater than 15 students–or if it's the instructor's first time teaching the course.
3. READINESS: Confirm that you, your participants and your technology are ready.
Use a Facilitator’s Guide to stay on track. At the start of your online class, don’t assume that participants are familiar with the ReadyTech online training platform. Give a quick how-to on the ReadyTech platform to teach participants how to work and learn in ReadyTech’s virtual training environment. Have backup plans in place for any unexpected technology issues, such as loss of internet connection.
4. SOUND: How you sound determines how people feel.
Deliver with a tone that says, “I want you here!” Make participants feel welcome and let them know you care. Be sure to call on individuals by name, remember to bring all students into the conversation, acknowledge them and incorporate participants’ comments and ideas into the session.
5. THINK: Practice “purposeful silence” when asking students to respond.
Allow quiet time for students to think and process. Thoughtfully comment on students’ ideas or questions submitted through chat. Instead of just reading these out loud, call on students to elaborate.
ReadyTech’s Chat and Whiteboard features can help instructors facilitate this strategy. For example, with Whiteboard, instructors can draw and write, as well as communicate flowcharts, IT configurations and process maps. Private and Public Chat enables one-on-one conversations between the instructor and other students, as well as chats between the entire class.
6. INTERACT: Encourage students to answer questions–instead of being the first to comment.
Facilitate group learning and collaboration by asking students to answer each other’s questions. ReadyTech’s Breakout Groups allows instructors to break the class into smaller groups, which enables student collaboration on case studies and lab exercises.
7. ADAPT: Manage time, adhere to course objectives and flow, and adapt to participant needs and expectations.
With ReadyTech’s Lab Timer, instructors can set a timer so students know exactly how much time they have to complete their virtual training labs. Students are able to indicate when they have completed each exercise and can track how long it took them.
8. ACTION: Open the class with purpose and respond to that purpose.
For example, open using a slide with a question on why the topic is important. Or ask students to share their challenges related to the topic. Read their responses and thread them throughout the course. A feature that can help with that is ReadyTech’s Public Chat. This feature allows back-and-forth communication in an easy way across the entire class, keeping track of the conversation, plus the functionality to search through chat history later in the course.
9. FACILITATE: Commit to no more lectures.
Instead, design hands-on activities for students to complete--either individually or within small groups. For example, instead of posting a slide with a bulleted list, ask students to share their own experiences. Because hands-on training is vital to the learning process, students need to spend time working with the product.
10. BREAKOUT: Breakout groups are great for facilitating student collaboration.
Always be very clear with the breakout group instructions and answer all questions before launching the breakouts. Be sure to check in on students throughout the breakouts in case they need help.
The key for any virtual instructor’s success is discovering how to create an engaging and meaningful class—from beginning to end. To help accomplish this, instructors can use Kassy LaBorie’s 10 master strategies while teaching an online class on ReadyTech’s VILT software.