A lot goes into creating a smooth and interactive virtual learning environment for your learners. The general rule for virtual training is learners should be asked to do something every 3-5 minutes. For example, this could mean they participate in a chat exercise, answer a question or poll, take a quiz, work in a breakout group, or annotate the slide.
A great deal of multitasking is required in this type of environment, and it can be challenging for even the most experienced trainer to facilitate, instruct, and manage the technology at the same time. With this much interaction, the help of a virtual classroom producer becomes essential. I like to think of it this way, “When you lose eye contact, you need an extra set of hands to compensate.”
Unfortunately, some trainers are uncomfortable with the idea of co-facilitation. You’ll each have different styles, may not be in the same location, and there may be some confusion about who handles what. The goal is to be “in sync” with your training partner and work together as if you are doing a dance. Think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey or, if you're a reality fan like me, “Dancing with the Stars!”
I recently had the opportunity to work with a producer in the virtual classroom for the very first time and, I admit, I was a bit nervous. Would our styles match up? Would we click? Could we get our "dance” just right? I’m thrilled to say that during the session everything flowed perfectly. Even the participants commented on how well we worked together—seamlessly and in sync! Yes, I had found my Maks Chmerkovskiy!
Here are some of the tasks a virtual classroom producer can help with to make your sessions flow smoothly:
- Prepare the virtual tools to be used in the session.
- Conduct a class warm-up with the participants before the session begins.
- Handle technical support issues for the participants and the facilitator.
- Oversee the chat area and monitor for questions from the participants.
- Alert the facilitator to raised hands or chat questions they may not have noticed.
- Annotate/scribe on the whiteboard while the trainer facilitates the exercise.
- Act as a back-up if the facilitator’s internet connection is lost.
- Answer questions to generate participation if its slow to start.
It’s exhausting just reading that list, isn’t it?! Yet, it shows how a producer allows the trainer to focus more on delivering the course material.
Here are Langevin’s top five tips to co-teach with a producer:
1. Both the facilitator and the producer should follow the same detailed lesson plan as it will clarify both roles.
2. Rehearse together at least two weeks prior to the session.
3. Establish rules for how to deal with participant-related problems.
4. Have a contingency plan for dealing with unexpected emergencies.
5. Support and look out for each other at all times.
By using these training strategies, I'm confident you'll find your perfect “dance” partner, too!
For more best practices on training in a virtual classroom, check out Langevin’s The Virtual Trainer workshop. It’s filled with ideas on how to present engaging visuals, use synchronous software tools, and handle the unexpected in a virtual classroom.
Hi everyone. I'm Marsha Weisleder, a born-and-bred Torontonian (yes, some of us do exist) and I've lived in Toronto, Canada most of my life. I moved to Atlanta, Georgia in January 2015. No, not because of the weather or a desire to be a southern belle…you see, I fell in love and married an American. Very exciting!