Moving classrooms online.

Virtual Classroom Training (VCT) it’s more than a webinar.

We’ve all sat through live online learning. Maybe you've even delivered some? It usually consists of a few dozen PowerPoint slides and a script, delivered via Zoom or MS Teams. But is it Virtual Clasroom Training?

Our view is it that VCT can and should be much more than a webinar. Don’t misunderstand us. A webinar is a very efficient way of disseminating information to a large number of people, but can it provide the highly effective learning that can be delivered by an interactive, engaging VCT as part of a blended learning solution?

How can we create and deliver engaging and interactive VCT?

There are three key elements when moving a face to face classroom session online.

1. Content

Make it engaging and interactive. It must also be visually stimulating. A dozen bullet points on a plain PowerPoint template does not cut it.

Sometimes one image that encapsulates the whole idea or concept is enough to stimulate a discussion between the group. It must invite debate. Invite suggestions on how to deliver the idea. Note them onscreen. Use break out rooms to further develop key ideas. Develop 3 key deliverable action points or learning points and move on.

2. Platform

There are many competent platforms that can deliver VCT and we’ve used them all. MS Teams, Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEx, etc. Whichever one you choose to use be an expert of that platform. Like a pilot you must practice using the platform for many hours before you can fly. Practice by yourself and then with small groups.

It’s more than just a PowerPoint delivery system. Use all of the features (where and when appropriate). For example, set challenges using the breakout rooms, live testing and polling to gain feedback and check knowledge levels. Use the Chat function to record questions and comments that can be fed back post session. The answers can be used as part of the online resources in the LMS. Whiteboard ideas during breakout sessions.

Engage. Connect. Debate. Conclude. Agree 3 Action Points.

3. Facilitator

It’s your job to present ideas, facts or information and then bring the learners into the classroom. I really encourage input from people. It stimulates and reinforces learning and improves understanding of the content.

I was once told that a facilitator doesn’t need to know the subject matter to deliver a VCT, we disagree. To deliver the best sessions and get the best results it’s essential that you are the Subject Matter Expert (SME). If not, invite a SME.

You uneed to a platform expert. Knowing all of the functionality and using it effortlessly allows you to focus on the one other crucial component of a successful VCT – engaging learners. It’s your job to know who’s contributing and who isn’t. You must bring everyone to the classroom!

Structure your learning to deliver the best possible outcomes.

A well thought out course structure, usually consisting of a blend of learning approaches and assets is usually the optimal approach of quality, price and effectiveness.

What should be delivered by VCT and what can be delivered by other means?

Let's look at an example - we have a new product launch with a sales team based throughout the country. The two key elements we need to focus on are product knowledge and how to sell the new product.

A blended learning approach may look like the three elements below: Pre VCT, delivery of VCT and post VCT.

Pre VCT product knowledge via e-learning module:

Include video, knowledge testing, scenario models via branching, employ mobile app for online/offline distribution

VCT delivery

Focus on selling skills. Take that newly learnt product knowledge and applying it in a VCT session with peers. Build practice sessions to deliver the elevator pitch, for example.

Post VCT actions and follow-up

Schedule shorter regular follow ups and check ins to embed learning and change. Encouraging people to find solutions and share with the group via the LMS engagement features.

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