5 steps to making virtual training as good as face to face interaction

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How do we make virtual training as good as face to face, something many learning professionals are troubled by every single day? 

Many learners see virtual training as inferior to the face to face learning experience, yes it is different but it does not need to be inferior!

Virtual training can be every bit as effective as face to face training, and in fact in some instances virtual training can be even better, more interactive, more engaging than face to face training can be.

There are 5 steps that we need to focus upon to ensure that our virtual training events are every bit as effective as our face to face ones – not focussing on these 5 steps means that your virtual training is unlikely to be as successful as it should be.

In this series of 5 posts I will look at each of these steps in turn, so let’s start by focussing on the first and for me one of the critical elements of great virtual classroom design – Interaction

Often we hear of organisations that have selected a virtual platform to deliver training virtually, such as Adobe Connect, WebEx Training Center, Citrix GoToTraining or any other platform and expect that their virtual training programmes will be interactive because the platform supports interaction – It does not just happen; we need to design the interaction.

Why do we need the interaction?

Well not only is Interaction vital in keeping and maintaining your audience’s attention and focus, but leaners are also much more likely to have a beneficial learning experience if they are involved in the learning.

Unfortunately, we have all probably been on the receiving end of a virtual training session that is not highly interactive, one that affords us the opportunity to hide behind the bandwidth and ‘tune-out’ or multitask and attend to other tasks.

In the virtual classroom we should think of interaction taking place in 3 different ways:

Between faculty and learner – The most obvious and often used way on interacting in the virtual platform, where the facilitator interacts verbally with the learner audience – asking questions, hearing past experiences, thoughts and opinions. 

Between the learners themselves – So very often the opportunity to have leaners collaborate and work together – where we can ask learners to build upon the previous learners’ comments, break into small group activities (as we do in face to face training) allowing learners to tackle a task, come back and present back.

Between the learner and the platform tools – Whether we are using the polling tools, asking learners to share thoughts and opinions in chat, asking them to annotate on whiteboards, using hand raise of feedback icons – there are many ways to get audiences interacting with the platform tools.

If we pull all these different ways to interact together that experience is going to be lively, interactive and engaging, and it is less likely the learner will want or feel the need to multitask, and as a bonus they will learn more in the process.

Interaction is a key step to ensuring you make a success of your live online learning events.

Stay tuned for the next 4 steps!

About the Author: David Smith

David is Global Director of Virtual Learning Solutions at Virtual Gurus, and is passionate about supporting individuals and organistions in getting the most from delivering training virtually. He is a regular speaker at international training conferences and Citrix webinars. 

In his spare time he enjoys many sports (unfortunately most as a spectator), has a family that keeps him young, loves Spanish Tapas and great red wines. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter

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