Preparing for Successful Virtual Training

April 16th, 2020

Now, more than ever, there is a need for delivering effective virtual training sessions. Whether it’s training employees, customers or students, the goal is the same – to adapt the existing training materials to be delivered successfully via virtual training.

Where do you start? The first step is to understand what you need to accomplish and what you want to able to do in a virtual environment. Do you need to have your learners watch your presentation of a structured lesson plan, watch a training video, or watch you demonstrate a skill? Should they accomplish an assignment individually or in a small group? Do you need to have learners take a test or demonstrate a skill? Do the results need to be recorded? It’s important to create a comprehensive list of needs and develop a virtual training plan. You can then select the best virtual platform that meets these needs.

There are many virtual training solutions available and it’s important to understand the features available in the platform you select to best create an engaging, collaborative, and successful experience for both the trainer and the learners. Many of the platforms available offer the following features: simple deployment/no downloads, mobile friendly, high-definition audio and video real-time communication, screen/application sharing, file sharing, call-in, breakout groups, text chat, hand raising, digital whiteboard, polls/surveys, live quizzes, recording sessions, attendance reports, and accessibility features including closed captions and screen reader support.

Once a platform is selected you need to adapt your training materials to fit your virtual training plan. If you have a structured lecture already developed, prepare visuals and supporting materials that your learners can follow as you present the materials online. Use a PowerPoint presentation with a simple visually appealing design, strong visuals, concise text, and videos. It’s important to also create a presentation guide that you can follow as you present the material. The presentation guide can include the following:

  • Table of Contents – with links in the document
  • Screenshots of presentation slides
  • Slide speaking notes
  • Teaching reminders
  • Key terms and definitions
  • Questions to prompt discussion or polling questions prepared to send out to learners during session
  • Embedded video links
  • Prompts for activities and activity directions
  • Prompts for additional resources to be shared

Learners studying remotely can become easily distracted so it is important to keep your learners engaged. This can be accomplished using the following strategies: Encourage learners to raise their virtual hand when they have a question or use text chat to post questions and comments. Break up a lecture by presenting supporting video, pausing for a Q&A discussion, or presenting polling questions. Present concepts using the whiteboard and then share the whiteboard so learners can get involved and demonstrate their understanding. Design instructional activities for learners to collaborate on during a break-out session.

To ensure a successful training session be sure to get comfortable using the technical features in the platform you are using and prepare your training materials and computer setup accordingly. Use the following best practices to get off to a good start:

Technical:

Use a modern browser (ChromeTM, Firefox®, Edge®, Safari®) and keep your browser version current

Use an ethernet connection if possible, but if not available, use WiFi

Use headphones to reduce background noise

Reduce file size of text documents and presentations to decrease download speeds

Select an image file format for best quality and best file compression (JPG and PNG formats recommended)

Select audio and video formats for best quality, universal support and file compression (MP3 or AAC audio format/ MP4 video file format recommended)

Presentation:

  • Practice your presentation and get comfortable with the features and functionality of the virtual platform software before going live
  • Load training content and test video links prior to session
  • Explain features available to the learners at start of session
  • Lecture should be structured into short, focused learning units
  • Integrate engaging activities often
  • Present material with a positive tone and evenly paced
  • Maintain virtual eye contact by looking at your camera
  • Monitor live chat notifications or have someone else do it for you
  • Record the session and post for learners to access at a later time
  • Provide good follow-up materials for learners to access
  • Ask for constructive feedback to help improve virtual training

The combination of properly adapted training materials, a comprehensive virtual training platform and proper preparation will ensure a consistent, effective, and successful learning experience for all.



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