Langevin's Train-the-Trainer Blog

Virtual Vs. Traditional Classroom Facilitation Part 1

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 2/18/19 8:00 AM
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I deliver training in both virtual classrooms and traditional classrooms and have noticed many differences. Each learning environment creates its own unique behaviors among the participants. For example:


Difficult Learners

In a traditional classroom, learners sometimes participate in sidebar conversations, return late from breaks, and antagonize the facilitator with things they say. In the virtual classroom, these three issues are minimized or, in some cases, eliminated. First, learners are unable to participate in sidebar conversations because they are physically separated from one another. Second, without a notification or a “left the meeting” status next to a learner’s name, the instructor may not know right away if a learner returned late from a break or hasn’t returned at all. Lastly, in the virtual classroom, learners tend to speak out less because they are focused on what the facilitator is saying and on what they are viewing on the screen. Participants tend to increase their talking when placed in breakout rooms for discussion and activity purposes.


Class Participation

In the traditional classroom there’s more time available to build group chemistry and rapport. This, in turn, increases and maintains high group participation. In addition, learners see when the instructor is waiting for a response and feel more compelled to answer. In the virtual classroom, building rapport and increasing participation are just as important. With time being more limited, a facilitator needs to maximize every opportunity. When participants choose to “hide” from questions, or if discussions are inactive, the instructor will need to call on specific learners to get things moving again.


Evaluation Forms

In traditional classroom training sessions, we allow a few minutes at the end of the class for learners to complete the written evaluation forms. We then collect them for a 100% return rate. In the virtual classroom, participants are often attending the session at work. Once the session is over, they are eager to return to work and often fail to complete the electronic evaluation form. This can result in a minimal return rate.


Class Discussions

In a traditional classroom setting there’s more time for spontaneous class discussions. This isn’t the case in a virtual classroom session where there is minimal buffer time allotted. With a tight schedule to adhere to in the virtual classroom, the number and length of unplanned discussions need to be closely monitored.


So, now that I’ve shared some differences in virtual versus traditional classroom facilitation, what other differences have you experienced between these two environments? Stay tuned for part two of this blog where I expand on some of these topics.


Learn to facilitate the virtual classroom with ease in our The Virtual Trainer workshop. Become a dynamic traditional classroom trainer in our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop.


Tips for Success in the Virtual Classroom

Topics: instructional techniques, virtual trainer, virtual classroom, facilitation

Written by Lynne Koltookian

Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

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    Our very own master trainers 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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