Technology and designing for success
| By David Smith
Adobe Connect, WebEx Training Center and GoToTraining are platforms you’ll likely have used for your live online classes and events.
However, chances are that you are among the 90% of learning and development professionals not realizing the full potential of their online tools and resources.
Over the past 8 years, I have seen and heard many examples of less-than-successful live online learning events where I can pinpoint the failings to the approach taken. There is a consistent theme amongst the events that fall flat - and that is using technology as a mechanism to merely deliver the learning event rather than actually leveraging it.
Many practitioners have been sold on the idea that simply using these web-based technologies is enough to provide the much sought after collaborative and interactive training environments in which we can engage and interact with our learners.
As awe-inspiring as it can be, sadly technology alone cannot magically make a successful virtual learning event…..and expecting it to do so is akin to anticipating a novel writing ability to rival Dan Brown simply by owning a Mont Blanc pen!
Technology provides us with the tools to build a successful event, but achieving it is up to us and how we apply it to our advantage.
A common mistake is believing that taking your existing classroom based training program and slotting it into the virtual classroom will be all it takes to create a successful online event. This is looking at it the wrong way around - the instructional designer should ensure that activities are designed for and optimised to be effective for the learning to take place in the virtual platform and not vice versa.
What’s the solution?
Ensuring the designer has an excellent knowledge and understanding of the technology is a great start. The approach should then be to design activities that can be supported well by the technology.
Various tools like chat, whiteboard and breakout rooms all have particular attributes that designers should understand so that the activity can run seamlessly in the virtual session.
So often facilitators can be left to “figure out” how the activity can be run in the virtual session, either through not having enough instruction on how-to run an activity, or having a poorly designed activity. As a result, the facilitator does their best trying to get the activity to work, often not succeeding at all in doing so and creating a lukewarm overall impression in the process!
Spend the time understanding how the tools actually work.
As an example, the white boarding/annotating tool in Adobe Connect works very differently to that in WebEx Training Center – there is “no one-size fits all”.
Dry run the activity within the platform.
Ensure the way that you want the activity to run actually runs that way in the platform. And if it doesn’t, then you can modify it or leave it and establish another way to get the same learning point across.
Collaborate with someone who knows the platform.
You may well have colleagues or associates who have more familiarity than you with the platform. Connect with them and ask them how they would make the activity work.
There is no reason why most activities that we designed for face to face cannot be altered to run in virtual classroom, but the success in doing so is largely down to the approach. It is about applying the tools at our disposal to work for the desired end result rather than using them simply because we have them and there’s where we stand to achieve truly successful live online learning events.
About the Author: David Smith
David is Global Director of Virtual Learning Solutions at Virtual Gurus, he is passionate about virtual working whether communicating, meeting, presenting or training virtually. A regular speaker at international training conferences and Citrix webinars.