There is much overlap between face-to-face learning and virtual instruction; however the transition to virtual training delivery is often misunderstood enough that many training departments find the idea daunting, expensive, and time-consuming.
Rather than let these misunderstandings obstruct your team from developing a more efficient training program, you can follow a few of these tips below to streamline the process.
We believe the process of transitioning and implementing virtual training is more accessible and more rewarding than you think.
Selecting for Effective Virtual Instructors
Many in-person instructors make exceptional virtual instructors. At the same time, there is a significant learning curve to teaching online.
Not every virtual trainer needs to have extensive online experience. However, there are basic qualities they should possess as a candidate:
Be Tech Savvy
Your virtual trainers will, at a minimum, need to be able to utilize their own computer. It’s not a stretch to forecast that they’ll be fielding students’ questions about their own computers, so a minimal ability to troubleshoot will be advantageous.
Students new to virtual training struggle with a variety of aspects, from the lack of in-person interaction to staying motivated, to tech issues. Instructors can head off many issues by tapping into their own experience with attending virtual education or remote work.
Placing themselves in their students’ shoes keeps engagement up and prevents the monotony that can be inherent to training. If your instructor can connect with students on a human level, offering both a virtual ear, as well as actionable advice when needed, virtual training programs will be that much more effective.
Training the Trainer
Whether your company opts for an experienced virtual instructor, or decides to upskill trainers who only have in-person experience, a certain amount of training the trainer must take place.
Instructors must understand how to use the training platform, otherwise they’ll delay and possibly even derail training. If your instructor lacks experience on the platform you’re using, it’s important that you spend time bringing them up to speed. This invaluable time directly impacts the effectiveness of your online course.
Learning New Teaching Techniques
Maintaining engagement is critical in virtual training. Because your instructor won’t be able to see students’ faces, they should request that students regularly update their status with emoticons. Alternatively, instructors may utilize an engagement monitor to keep a pulse on student involvement.
Instruct your trainers to routinely change class activities, as often as every 10 minutes. Once your instructors are comfortable with the virtual training software, they should be able to quickly switch between participatory labs, interactive Q&A sessions, and one-way lectures and demonstrations.
Remote Doesn’t Mean Emotionless
A big part of maintaining engagement is bringing energy to the classroom. Select instructors who are naturally extroverted, and encourage them to amplify their energy for the sake of maintaining engagement.
As part of an instructor’s training, ask them to record teaching sample sections of their course. Your team should review the material and be comfortable providing feedback on their delivery.
Practice Makes Perfect
Beyond feedback on delivery, give your instructors ample opportunity to practice before they give their first live course. This should include mock students who give the instructor actionable feedback so they may improve the course experience before going live.
Part of an instructor’s practice could be attending other courses taught by more experienced instructors. They should engage in active note taking to learn new teaching techniques from your top instructors - this is one time it’s okay to copy!
How to Evaluate Virtual Training Platforms
Finally, no matter how well you train your instructors, their success is predicated on the platform you select. Evaluating the correct platform for your training program is simpler when broken down into three categories:
Placing student needs first will not only enhance their learning, but also make your instructors’ lives easier through less questions and requests to troubleshoot. Range and depth of access is easily the most critical factor in your students’ success:
- Point of Access: It is important to consider whether or not students need remote access to the online training platform.
- Hands-on Labs: Critical for high-quality technical training, hands-on labs are the only place for students to experience a realistic, hands-on learning environment. Often, a virtual training lab is the easiest way to add this important piece to your training.
- Localization: Not every platform supports localization. If you plan to include international students, take care to research and choose a training platform that enables ease of navigation for all students.
Assessing and addressing student needs is critical when evaluating a training platform.
To ensure student success, provide your trainers with the tools they need. Not every platform comes with the same features, so it is critical to consider the features instructors request before committing to a platform.
Do your instructors want to screen share, give live assessments, chat, or use breakout rooms? Poll your instructors early on in the process so that you ensure your platform choice supports trainers’ curriculum.
Training Department’s Needs
While it’s important to support students and trainers, don’t forget to set your support team up for success. Items to consider include:
- How many students will be in each class?
- How many classes will run at the same time?
- Where are students and trainers located?
The answer to each of these will play a factor in determining the best virtual classroom and virtual lab solution, and what level of support will be required for your training program.
Remember: training demand varies quarter to quarter, and sometimes even weekly. During your research phase, ensure each prospective platform allows for flexible usage.
Navigating a Smooth Transition
Finding the best trainer for each course is only half the battle. Once hired, you’ll need to train them up to speed.
At the same time as you are building capacity internally, you need to identify the platform that will best support your staff and students.
It’s easy to get lost amongst all of the moving parts that go into transitioning to virtual training delivery. For more tips on effectively and efficiently switching to virtual training, check out this interactive eBook to see if your organization is ready to make the switch.