Keep Calm and Go Virtual: Moving Your Live Training Online

Written by Jennifer Balcom, Senior Consultant, Explorance.

Part 1: Adjust Your Design for Online

Facing the challenge of converting your live training or class into an online virtual session? You’re not alone. Corporate learning, higher education and K-12 education professionals around the globe are asking “can you really take your live training or classroom session and deliver it online?” 

Yes, you can! It’s time to change your thinking – it’s not about recreating the live experience online – that’s a tough expectation to meet. But you can adjust your design for online learning and still make it an effective experience

In this blog post, we’ll look at 5 tips to help you answer the question: how can I teach it online? 

Tip #1: Consider size carefully

Size is a key consideration when redesigning for online delivery, both audience number and length. There’s no right answer – it depends on the content and the interactivity level. Here’s a quick chart to help you right size your virtual session: 

 

Content type Interactivity Level Audience Size Duration Bonus Tip!
Webinar 
or lecture
Minimal
  • Audience muted
  • Poll or Q&A 
  • Chat with presenter only
No limit – go big! 45 minutes of content maximum
15 minutes for Q&A
Record for replay
Interactive 
and discussion
Engage every 3 – 5 minutes
  • Audience not muted 
  • Use the technology tools 
  • Chat with everyone 
12 students if new to online
15 maximum for interaction
2 hours maximum per session Bigger audience?
Break into smaller
groups and deliver
multiple times.

Tip #2: Chunk and blend it

Learning doesn’t only happen in a classroom – live or virtual. Chunk your content into parts and then blend the delivery to be both inside and outside the live session. In your blend, address different learning styles: 

  • Visual: Charts, visual cues or mind mapping  
  • Auditory: Videos, podcasts or discussions 
  • Kinesthetic: Simulations, virtual reality, or annotation tools in class 
  • Reading / writing: Reading assignments, written questions, or bulleted lists to summarize main points 

When blending, look at your content and assess what can be done “self-paced” in preparation for or after a live session and what content needs explanation or interactivity in a live session. Then set the expectation that all content and assignments are part of the class – not just attending the live session. 

As you then redesign your live class, chunk it out. For example: 

  1. Send a video, article read and/or discussion questions to answer prior to the live class
  2. Hold the live interactive class and incorporate the work sent prior to class 
  3. Give follow on work after the class for review or preparation for the next session 

With a tool like Bluepulse, sharing content, creating discussions, and following up with learners can be done in one place between live class sessions to allow you to stay connected easily.

Tip #3: Have an interaction plan

It’s worth repeating – plan for engagement and interaction every 3-5 minutes. Or, to put it another way, if you’re using PowerPoint as a framework for your session that’s every 3-5 slides! 

To do this you must: 

  • Know how to use the technology tools 
  • Review the content and adjust it 

Technology enables learner engagement, so be creative with the tools. Try these ideas in your virtual classroom:

  • Ask a question and have students chat the answer
  • Put choices on a slide then turn on annotation tools for voting 
  • Direct students to an activity in their participant guide or workbook
  • Manage a discussion – volunteers annotate their answers on the slide in a numbered box 
an example of how to create an interactive element in your online presentation   an example of how to incorporate an interactive element in your online presentation  

Tip #4: Be purposeful with PowerPoint

In the online classroom your visuals are even more important because the content on the screen is the center of attention. It’s critical that what you share on the screen (and its likely PowerPoint) has meaning, is clear and easy to read.  

When designing your materials to display, here are a few guidelines to consider: 

  • Use a white background and leave a lot of white space 
  • Convey meaning with visuals and speak to them 
  • Keep bulleted items to short, highlighted points limited to 2 – 3 
  • Include instructions to direct the flow of the class 

Tip #5: Use instructional materials

Typically, live classrooms have student materials and the online learning is no different. Give students a guide for the class. 

Caution: Do not send a copy of your PowerPoint slides as the guide – that’s a sure way to disengage some of your students. They’ll be reading the slides and not engaging with the class. A well-designed student guide should: 

  • Complement the content on the screen 
  • Provide ample white space for note taking 
  • Contain directions for class activities done independently 
  • Contain content to support the class interactions, such as a short article to read 

an example of instructional materials to include that compliment your online presentation  

 

While the task of moving your live classroom experiences onto an online class can be challenging it is possible!  You can’t make it the exact same experience, however with a little planning and adjustment, you can make it an engaging learning experience that’s maybe even better than the live one! 

Want to know more? Read part 2, “Effective Delivery Essentials in the Virtual Classroom” and part 3, “Feedback Matters! Evaluation in the Virtual Classroom.”

 

Register for an upcoming webinar that ties all 3 blogs together. 

 


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