Since the inception of Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) technology, it’s become an enticing way for organizations to save travel costs and offer more sessions that are available to employees in every timezone. However, with all the benefits come concerns around perceived lack of interaction and engagement, lack of learner progress, ROI, or impact over time. But when done right, virtual learning can be just as impactful as in-person learning and can allow additional space for new, creative solutions for a more flexible workforce.
Our Learning Services Team has put together some recommendations on how to get started when shifting from in-person training to effective virtual sessions. To access their curated Pathways of the best virtual learning resources, find the links at the bottom of this page.
It All Starts with Technology
First, start with the technology. This may seem obvious enough but ensuring that you’ve thought through the process, worked past the hurdles, and built protocols before launching the programs will help the change management for end-users and administrators.
Here are the most important four features to help you identify your chosen tech solution:
- Use technology that can scale with you. Some packages limit the number of online attendees. Ensure that you have enough licenses for the types of online learning you are going to facilitate.
- Certify that attendees can log on from their systems. This might also include dial-in numbers from phones or VOIP for browsers. You need to know your audience and ensure global employees have access.
- Make certain that you can share apps and presentations.
- Look for software that allows for the following:
- Breakout rooms
- Chat windows for attendees
- Video streaming
But Don’t Forget the Human Element
Plain and simple, if your experience isn’t engaging, your workforce won’t be engaged. The second factor is to keep your solution user-focused, which is the only way to keep engagement high. Here are five suggestions to increase energy and engagement levels during learning sessions:
1. Polling. Offering an engaging activity can be a great start for keeping users stimulated in the virtual learning environment. Polls can be kept simple, and in addition to keeping your audience engaged, they can gather data to help keep administrators informed.
2. Use a chat window. Encourage attendees to utilize a chat window during sessions. Here are some example questions:
- What are 2-3 websites you use every day to get the latest news about your day?
- What do you like about them?
- Where are you calling in from today?
3. Whiteboards. Using whiteboards is a great way to promote user interaction. After polling attendees, copy the text from their given answers and paste them on the whiteboard to continue the conversation.
4. Breakout rooms. For topics that require more in-depth levels of conversation, or to add some variance to the sessions, try using breakout rooms. It’s common in larger online learning spaces for a few people to share repeatedly while others remain silent. Using smaller breakout rooms with fewer individuals will minimize the imbalance and promote activity from all attendees. In most applications, you can assign people to virtual break rooms to tackle a question or do an activity.
5. Annotation tools. Many conferencing platforms will offer annotation tools, which help create environments similar to in-person meetings, drawing users’ attention to specific areas if you need to “re-engage” the audience.
Takeaways for designing a user-centered learning strategy:
- People want to feel connected.
- People want self-directed learning to feel empowered as well as interaction. Give them both through pre-work and continued learning after the program.
- Give people direction, but also let them explore their learning paths and collaborate with others.
- To engage learners, use a combination of technology and techniques (asynchronous and synchronous) to create a robust social learning journey for employees.
The key to designing a user-focused virtual learning program is to maintain a balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning. That means offering equal opportunities for people to engage in larger learning sessions as well as autonomous, self-directed learning— along with all variations in between. Selecting the right technological solutions can help you foster this kind of holistic and supportive learning environment for your whole team.
To help administrators and end-users shift from in-person learning to virtual learning programs, our Client Services Experts have built two Pathways of all our most effective resources, which you can access below. Do you have more questions or want to learn more about how our teams can help you get started? Reach out to a Degreed representative today!
Pathways for U.S. Audiences:
Pathways for E.U. Audiences: