Historically, participating in the virtual classroom has been a lot like watching TV. There was little or no interaction. You would just stare at the screen and hope something would sink in. However, as we bring more technology into the picture, we can't even focus on staring at the screen because we're distracted by work deadlines, social media, and so many other things. When that happens in the virtual classroom, learning even the most basic of tasks becomes quite a challenge.
Today, the virtual classroom addresses the issue of distraction by becoming more interactive. I'd like to share three examples of how Langevin incorporates interaction into our virtual classroom sessions.
Please vote now
If you enjoy cooking, dancing, or singing, there's a show for you. On these reality shows, the viewer gets a chance to vote for their favorite. A variety of methods are available when voting. You can call, text, or go online. One of the newest shows even has the viewing audience voting live from their living rooms...during the show.
I think of all the interactive tools available in the virtual classroom. Feedback icons, polling, chat windows, and virtual whiteboards all offer lots of opportunities for your participants to get involved. For the highest level of engagement, ask your participants to do something every three to five minutes. That way, they don't really have a chance to step away. Even though some VC platforms allow you to see when someone has "stepped away" or has toggled to another open application, I'd rather watch them be involved than watch them check out.
We'll be back after these messages
There is a formula on TV regarding how long the audience will watch before they need a break. With DVR technology, the audience decides when to take a break as they can fast forward through the commercials. Streaming services allow viewers to watch entire shows without commercial interruption, but the viewers still choose when to take a break.
In the virtual classroom, our participants need a break too. The VC formula is to provide a short five to ten-minute break every 60 to 90 minutes. While these breaks are much fewer than required when watching TV, they mirror the instructor-led training guidelines. This strategy will increase participation by refreshing your participants.
For more information...
From news stories to recipes, the viewing audience is being invited to go online and get more information, to download an app for the latest information, or to share their comments and photos on social media or a web page. TV is providing additional resources to viewers to keep them involved even after the show is over.
In the virtual classroom you can have your participants download files, visit websites, join discussion groups, and so much more. Keeping your learners engaged after the training is a powerful tool to drive home the relevance of what they've learned. If they never reference it, talk about it, or use it again, what was the point of the training?
I've heard that you can't learn much from watching TV, but I disagree. If I were in a virtual classroom right now, I could use a feedback icon to display a big red X to show you that I disagree. We can learn a lot as trainers, about how to engage our participants in the virtual classroom, by taking some lessons from the TV.
Do you know where else you can learn about the virtual classroom? By attending Langevin’s workshop, The Virtual Trainer! Master the virtual classroom in just five days!