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6 Tips for Successful Virtual Classroom Training

Posted by Melissa Grey Satterfield on 12/26/13 3:00 AM
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If you’ve attended a Langevin workshop, you know about instructor-led training (ILT). You know it occurs in a “classroom,” with widely varying formats, ranging from interactive lectures to engaging small-group activities and discussion. All of Langevin’s instructor-led workshops are the perfect example of structured learning sessions guided by seasoned course leaders fluent in the principles of adult learning.


What you may not know is, by adding a “v” to the ILT, you get a very similar experience – but online! That’s right; vILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training). While virtual training has been around for at least fifteen years, today’s tight training budgets, need for speed, advances in technology, and improved learning design make virtual training increasingly attractive.


So, just what is virtual training? A well-designed, delivered, and implemented virtual workshop is a highly interactive learning experience with participants and instructors in separate locations connected via their own computers and occurring in real-time through a “synchronous learning platform.” The goal of the virtual classroom is to offer an experience similar to that of the traditional classroom. It’s worth noting that vILT is not a webinar (a one-way communication with listeners in separate locations).


Below are six tips for successful virtual training:

1. Design courses that allow learners to interact at least every 3-5 minutes with the platform, with each other, or with the instructor (virtual trainer).


2. Use compelling visuals instead of text-heavy PowerPoint. Include storytelling and video or audio, rather than resorting to straight lecture, and use chat, whiteboards, breakout rooms, and polls to support continuous learner interactivity.


3. Keep virtual learners focused by providing a break every 60-90 minutes.


4. Limit class size to about twelve learners (again, virtual training is not a webinar that delivers one-way information to hundreds of listeners). Limiting group size promotes the level of interaction needed to master new skills.


5. Use a producer to help the trainer focus on guiding activities and keeping learners engaged. A producer makes sure the platform runs smoothly and troubleshoots technical issues for individual learners (e.g. online connectivity or unfamiliarity with a platform feature).


6. While a virtual classroom session may be shorter than an equivalent ILT session, overall training time may be equal when you include “before” and “after” activities. Choose virtual training for its value in closing a performance gap, not purely to save time.


If you keep the above tips in mind, synchronous virtual training can become a true partner in preparing employees to achieve organizational goals. Be sure to check out Langevin’s newest endeavor, “The Virtual Trainer.” This new workshop will give you the skills and confidence required to expertly facilitate virtual training.

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Melissa has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Nevada where she studied broadcast communications. During her college years, Melissa worked as an on-air personality for several radio and TV stations in Las Vegas. She’s always been a bit of a performer, which is probably why training is such a good fit for her. Before coming to Langevin, she was a senior training specialist and course developer for an organization based in L.A. Melissa knows the challenges trainers face, as well as the rewards that come with improving job performance. Her training mantra is summed up best by something she learned during her very first Langevin workshop, “Never do for the learners what the learners can do for themselves.” When not in the classroom, Melissa loves travelling, relaxing at the beach, cooking, and hosting dinner parties.

Topics: instructional techniques, virtual trainer, virtual classroom, instructor-led training, tips-for-trainers

About this Blog

Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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