As many teachers and corporations are now facing the unprecedented challenge of having to teach online (a situation many educators and corporate trainers have resisted for years and never thought they would have to do), I have a few tips for those who are new to online learning based on my own personal experiences as a result of having facilitated and developed online training sessions and eLearning for many years.
Here are the two tips, that I believe are critical to effectively facilitating any online training session.
1) Use activities that get the learner engaged.
Hhands on learning continue to be the most important thing you can do, in an online environment. As the facilitator, you shouldn’t be just speaking at participants, you need to get them engaged in the learning.
Learning engagement is key, and it can be done in almost any online medium including when using zoom, gotomeeting or WebEx. For example, here are some easy activities that get learners involved in virtual sessions.
1) Poll them about their opinion on the content using the online polling feature.
2) Have the learners use the chat function to summarize all of the key points that they learned.
3) Use break-out rooms to have specific groups discuss topics, and then have the participants present back to the group, to do a “teach-back” on their discussion topic.
2) Check your technology and always have a back-up plan for if your technology fails.
Identifying risks in a project, and identifying what you will do if they occur, is a fundamental principal in project management and it should also be applied to any training session. You should always test your online platform, so you know how to use it (e.g. how do you share your screen, do you know how to use the polling feature and make sure that you know how you assign participants to break-out rooms). On another note, always turn-off your email so other people can’t see your messages, during the session too.
Checking technology and having a back-up plan is key (I can’t stress this enough). I once had a training session with participants across Canada. I was about 15 minutes into the training session, when the Rogers network went down in our entire office building (apparently a line had been cut during the Metrolinx construction). Being a paranoid facilitator, I already knew what my back-up plan was if my technology didn’t work (which involved a frantic run to the parking lot, and setting up a personal hotspot with my mobile device so I could run the rest of the virtual training session, from my car).
Quick Reference Guide
Here is a quick reference guide you can use to remind you of the key elements of effective online learning for new facilitators (and it is a helpful review and reminder for experienced online teachers and educators as well). http://18.104.22.168/pluginfile.php/32/mod_resource/content/1/pathways_resource.pdf
Good luck to all new teachers and corporate facilitators, who are embarking on their online teaching adventures. Remember what you already know, and that the principles of effective learning (hands-on learning and active engagement) continue to be critical in the eLearning and online training world. #eLearning