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Virtual training rules - a guide to online learning

Is delivering training online a new experience for you? Here are some virtual training rules to enhance your training sessions

23rd March 2024

Virtual training rules - a guide to online learning
Virtual training has quickly established itself as a cornerstone for personal and professional development. it's maybe something that's been hanging around for a while now but the COVID pandemic really brought it to the forefront for many organisations and it has proven to be an asset for many learning and development teams.

When delivering virtual training sessions what changes? We figures it would be useful to establish a set of ground rules for virtual training to maximise the effectiveness of training sessions delivered using video conferencing and online tools such as Experiential Learning Tools. Here, we delve into the essential "Virtual Training Rules" to navigate the evolving landscape of learning and development.

Embrace the "Digital Mindset"
First and foremost, embracing a digital mindset is crucial. Virtual training is not merely a digital version of traditional learning; it's a whole new arena. This means being open to leveraging technology not just as a medium, but as an integral part of the learning experience.

As we're delivering session online participants can join for anywhere. That means they can join from their desk, their home or we can bring together individuals across large distances or indeed timezones.

Being virtual opens us up to new paradigms for delivering training. We explored this with our 6 week mini programme for communication skills which aims to have a low impact on participants time with it taking only two hours per week.

Size is important
Consider the size of your groups. Virtual sessions have a low barrier to entry so you can have large groups of 50 plus participants. We wrote a guide of using various activities for large virtual training sessions and leveraging the capability of platforms such as Zoom/Teams/Meet for creating breakout rooms.

Small groups can also benefit from virtual training sessions. We covered this in our guide to virtual training activities for small groups with suggestions for how to use activities in even 1:1 virtual sessions.

Set clear objectives
Clarity of purpose is key in virtual training. Whether you're an organiser, trainer, or participant, understanding the goals of the session is fundamental. 

Objectives should be made clear in the brief. A mantra that carries over from traditional face to face training sessions is SMART objectives. These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This clarity guides the structure of the training, ensuring that the session is focused and impactful.

Foster interactive engagement
The virtual environment poses unique challenges in maintaining participant engagement. Combat the "passive listener" syndrome by fostering interactivity.

For example activities such as Seeing the Point and Broken Squares on Experiential Learning Tools use real time collaboration and feedback on a shared canvas to keep all participants engaged. Where as our Images series of actives facilitate brainstorming and collaboration, making the learning process more dynamic and inclusive.

Also remember a 'loss' in an activity (say a team not getting to the solution within the time limit) doesn't mean failure. Use this experience and turn the loss into a win.

Leverage other media
One of the greatest advantages of virtual training is the ability to integrate various multimedia elements seamlessly. Videos and podcasts can enrich the learning experience, catering to different learning styles. This multimodal approach not only keeps the content interesting but also aids in better retention of information.

Obtain feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for improvement, and in virtual training, it's more accessible than ever. Encourage participants to provide real-time feedback through any video conferencing you're using or indeed ellicit feedback from the tool you're using to deliver the session. In the case of Experiential Learning Tools we provide post session feedback opportunities. 

Honest feedback not only helps in adjusting the pace and focus of the session but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement for the facilitator/trainer.

Maintain a balance between asynchrony and synchrony
Virtual training offers the flexibility of asynchronous (self-paced) and synchronous (real-time) learning. Striking the right balance between these can cater to diverse needs and schedules. Asynchronous elements allow for flexibility, while synchronous sessions foster real-time interaction and engagement. Combining both can create a more robust and flexible learning environment.

Cultivate a community
Virtual training should not be an isolating experience. Cultivating a sense of community among participants can greatly enhance the learning experience. Encourage the use of forums, social media groups, or chat channels for participants to connect, share insights, and support each other. 

This sense of community can transform the virtual training experience from transactional to transformational.

Ensure technical reliability
The success of virtual training heavily relies on the technical infrastructure. Ensure that the platforms and tools you choose is reliable, user-friendly, and has adequate support for your training needs. Conduct technical checks before sessions to minimise disruptions and have a contingency plan in place for technical issues. We previously wrote a guide to using video conferencing with some tips to help get the most out of your virtual meetings.

Continuous improvement
Finally, view every virtual training session as an opportunity for growth. Collect data, gather feedback, and reflect on the training's effectiveness. This iterative process is vital for continuous improvement, allowing you to refine your approach and enhance the overall learning experience over time.

Virtual training is a core part of modern learning and development. By adhering to these virtual training rules, we envisage virtual learning experiences that translate into real world benefits for the learner and their employers. The future of learning is virtual. Let's embrace it with open minds and a commitment to excellence, ensuring that we're not just keeping up with the times, but leading the way forward.

In crafting this guide, we've explored the multifaceted aspects of virtual training, from leveraging technology to fostering community. Each rule serves as a stepping stone towards creating more engaging, effective, and inclusive online learning experiences. As we continue to evolve in this digital landscape, these principles will undoubtedly be our compass, guiding us towards a future where virtual training is not just an alternative, but a preferred mode of learning and development.

We believe Experiential Learning Tools is a beneficial asset for any trainer wanting to run virtual training sessions.
Contact sales today to get started using it in your virtual training sessions.


Michael Hayes @_mdhayes

Head of Product at Experiential Learning Tools

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