Do you have in-person sessions approaching that you need to quickly convert to virtual instructor-led training? Our team of experts provides best practices, tips, and tricks to help you be successful.
Many organizations are facing the challenge of maintaining their learning programs during the COVID-19 crisis. Some require entirely new training to address the shifting needs of the business. For example, this auto manufacturer has converted one of its car plants to make ventilator masks. This means that training for new skills and processes may be required—and time is a huge factor. Learning and Development professionals are heeding the call.
With the need to cancel in-person training and gatherings, you may be looking to quickly shift to virtual instructor-led learning in a matter of weeks (or even days). This can be a massive change-management moment for an organization. But you’re not alone. Overnight, almost every person has had to transform his or her way of working, communicating, gathering socially, and learning. Like a technological Big Bang, digital transformation just happened on a global scale.
First and foremost: You can handle this challenge! Here are some tips to begin the conversion process.
Map learning objectives to virtual instructor-led training
You need to identify what you want/need people to know/be able to do. Next, you can chunk existing content related to your objectives, bucket it into modules, and determine the most effective way to sequence it in your virtual presentation.
Answer these questions:
- What makes sense to be taught first?
- What topics can be combined?
- How many sessions do you think you’ll require to teach each module?
You will likely already have many of the learning materials needed for virtual training. Identify existing instructor-led training (ILT) content that is related to those objectives, and begin the process of curating what to keep and what can go.
Prepare the virtual presentation
When it comes to building your presentation (slide deck), enhance existing content with additional slides to reinforce, explain, and support what you are trying to teach. Remember that attention can be lost if your presentation is overly complex, wordy, and long. Keep your sessions short and to the point, your language simple and straightforward, and avoid any extraneous information.
Remember—think visually. Too much text on a slide can overwhelm your audience.
Consider your videoconferencing needs
Conferencing tools are all different, and you should consider which one will best serve your needs. Some are robust and complex, best for large groups, while others are simple and ideal for quick one-on-ones. Some videoconferencing services may require your team to download specific software. This can add to the learning curve and setup time.
Do you see value in recording your virtual session for later consumption? Remember that while Webex, GoToMeeting, and Zoom have recording capabilities, some others don’t. And be aware: In many cases, only the moderator has recording privileges. So if you have asked a nonparticipant to set up the meeting (say, an office administrator), he or she is going to need to be present (at least at the beginning) to start recording. Take a deep dive into the functionality of your conferencing tools to determine what works best for your team, your facilitator, and your presentation.
Here are some tools that you will find helpful in establishing virtual learning for larger groups:
- Polls are a great way to gather information in the moment and can build engagement for a live presentation. Polls can be used to level-set, gauge where your learners are, and assess understanding.
- Whiteboards are a great tool to enable collaboration in real time. People can share thoughts and ideas while adding elements to a communal space, helping them feel more connected to the training.
- Chat windows or the ability to “raise your hand” to talk ensure that everyone has the opportunity to provide feedback. Even those who might be introverted and normally reticent to add their voice at an in-person gathering.
- Breakout rooms are an excellent way to do synchronous, deeper work together that can then be brought back to the larger group. You should consider providing additional instructions to ensure people know what they’re doing. Also, a moderator or facilitator can ensure that the virtual rooms are functioning as expected and address any questions or issues that learners may have.
Manage your expectations and your time
It may take some extra time and training to ensure that your people have access to the technology and are comfortable using it. You can support your team by helping them establish a home office or workspace from which they can access training. Provide additional sessions to enable your team to get familiar with the virtual instructor-led training platform or tools you are using. Remember that not every member of your team is tech-savvy, so be patient and helpful.
A virtual meeting can require more minutes off the top than an in-person meeting. Everyone needs to get settled in and comfortable, and ready to learn. People need time to adjust to the technology and the interface, ways to comment and provide feedback, etc. Also—don’t forget to build in breaks so learners can refresh themselves.
You will need to ensure that you have a strong facilitator with an understanding of the topics being taught, the technology being used, and the best practices for facilitating a virtual program. This might entail added time to train the trainer and onboard new facilitators by helping them practice before they teach.
On a positive note
While this might seem like a daunting task, it can be a great opportunity for you to review and refresh existing training materials. This can help make the transition to virtual instructor-led training easier in the future as well as addressing any issues in the content before you return to business as usual. If you haven’t developed a virtual training session before, you’ll get a first-hand view of the efficiencies and benefits of virtual learning.
Converting ILT to virtual instructor-led training takes planning, strategy, and an optimistic approach to make it a reality. We’re here to help and offer advice. Our team has decades of experience in virtual learning and people management, both in-person and remote, with countless success stories and lessons learned. We have been extremely successful operating as a virtual company for over 10 years. Let us know if we can help you in any way.
For more guidance, we recommend that you check out this guide for a more detailed list of best practices and tips for converting ILT to virtual instructor-led training from the SweetRush Instructional Design team!