Illustration of people on laptops with instructor on screen in background.

4 Tips to Move from a Physical to a Virtual Classroom

Organizations globally are gravitating towards digital platforms to train their employees. With the ongoing COVID-19 events, we’re seeing many more organizations look to online training to engage and inform employees. Some organizations have experienced tremendous success with Instructor-Led Training (ILT). A Virtual Classroom and Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT) can be a great solution for these organizations looking to utilize instructors and trained facilitators to develop employee skills. Before we dive into the tips, let’s see why you should consider Virtual Classrooms in the first place.  

Benefits of Virtual Classrooms  

There are many benefits to conducting vILTs, even when face-to-face instruction becomes an option again. For instance, Virtual Classrooms save significantly on travel costs. Also, Virtual Classrooms make training available globally at the same time. You can also record vILTs for future use, saving more time, money, and planning efforts. Virtual Classrooms enable small groups of learners to take advantage of digital tools and technology while still being guided by a trained instructor.  

It’s important to note that not all classes are fit for virtual environments. For example, if you are teaching a class on the process and skills to mount and install tires on vehicles, it’s helpful to have the equipment handy for practice and demonstration. To enable learners to practice, you’d need to send resources and implement safety precautions for a project like this. These types of courses best suit physical training environments. That being said, if you’ve identified training that would benefit from a transition to a Virtual Classroom, here are 4 key tips to help you get started.  

Tip #1 – Know When to Add and Remove Content  

ILTs and vILTs are both great training techniques that use a trained instructor to facilitate the course, and they both aim to accomplish the same goal: developing employee skills. The major difference is, of course, where the instructor facilitates the training. Many ILT activities easily convert to vILT with the digital tools available. For example, online breakout sessions replace group discussions. That being said, some activities are simply more effective in-person. On the other hand, with digital tools available, there are many ways to create activities that are only possible on the digital platform. When planning your own vILT based on an existing ILT, you can break it down into segments. Then, consider whether each segment can be converted to vILT with the tools available, if there is a more engaging way to conduct the segment online, or if the segment is best to reserve for an ILT.  

Tip #2 – Divide and Conquer  

ILTs don’t have many time restrictions. Some may even go the full day or multiple days! vILTs are a little different. Most don’t exceed 90 minutes of seat time. Without the person-to-person activities and physically moving around, 90 minutes is a good window to keep your learners interested and engaged the whole time. The idea to break down content into smaller chunks is not new – the most obvious example is micro training. On a much larger scale, breaking down ILT training into smaller bits (not full-day adventures) will keep your learners active and informed without taking too much out of their day or attention span.  

Tip #3 – Get Creative to Engage Interest  

Wherever your learners may be participating in a Virtual Classroom, they likely have more distractions than in a physical classroom, including their phone and emails. vILTs are a great excuse to get creative and use explosive graphics and blended learning to switch things up and keep learners engaged. Using multi-media like videos and infographics are a good way to present information while activities and group breakouts give learners a chance to engage with the content in their own way. At HALIGHT, our philosophy is, “Tell Me, Show Me, Let Me Do”. Virtual Training gives learners many ways to learn and engage with training content to achieve these training values.   

Tip #4 – Keep it Personable  

ILT is obviously beneficial for face-to-face interactions, which leads to more personal discussions. It can be more challenging to get to know learners through a webcam and mic, but there are ways to incorporate discussion into the vILT to learn more about the people you’re training. You can use warmups and icebreakers in combination with the available digital tools, so learners get comfortable with the environment and each other! For example, you can use the whiteboard and ask everyone to draw the state or the flag of the country they’re from. By knowing the people, the Virtual Classroom will feel that much more personal, like what you’d expect from face-to-face interactions.  

Give your learners a place to grow and learn together, even when they can’t meet face-to-face. Virtual Classrooms give you instructor-facilitated classes with options and tools to get creative with your training approach. If you need ideas, request a demo and we’ll show you what we do!   

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