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Helping Charities and Not-for-Profits Converting Classroom Training to Online (Tips and Examples)

Given the global pandemic, many not-for-profit organizations and charities are finding that the classroom training they use to provide, can no longer be delivered given the current situation with COVID-19.

As an experienced Canadian eLearning company with over 14 years of experience, Pathways has been offering significantly discounted rates to any charities and not-for-profit organizations who need help moving classroom-based training to eLearning or online training quickly. Over the last two weeks, Pathways has started working with two well-known Toronto-based not-for profit organizations, to help these associations to develop eLearning and online training, so they can continue to support those in need.

For any organization who now needs to move their classroom training to online training quickly – here are some quick tips and facts about online learning that may help you with this process.

  • Good course design is more critical for e-learning than face-to-face learning and it is more difficult to hide poor design or content that is below average.

  • Many instructors report that electronic delivery initially requires 40 to 50% more effort on their part until they gain more experience.

Remember Good Adult Learning Principles Still Apply to eLearning and Online Training Sessions!

When developing for any eLearning or online training session, the following principles still apply

  1. A certain degree of arousal is necessary for learning to occur, whereas stress acts as a major block to learning.

  2. Collaborative modes of teaching and learning will enhance the self-concepts of those involved and result in more meaningful and effective learning.

  3. Adults will generally learn best in an atmosphere that is nonthreatening and supportive of experimentation and in which different learning styles are recognized.

  4. Adult learning is facilitated when the learner's representation of their own experience is acknowledged and respected as a potential resource for learning.

  5. Adult skill learning is facilitated when individual learners can assess their own skills and strategies to discover inadequacies or limitations for themselves.

All of these principles are great to keep in mind if you are the facilitator or instructional designer but how do you apply them in an eLearning or virtual online training session?

Examples of interactivity that can be used in e-learning on online sessions include:

  • Providing practice questions.

  • Assigning collaborative projects to small groups or pairs.

  • Use webinars, message boards and email for collaborative assignments.

  • Creating opportunities for participants to interact with facilitators through question and answer sessions.

  • Using online polling opportunities whenever possible.

  • Breaking up participants into small groups or partners through virtual breakout rooms.

Examples of How to Use Polling and Surveys in eLearning or Online Training Sessions

Including online polling and surveys in online training sessions, results in participants become actively engaged through decision-making. At the same time it allows the facilitator to have an understanding of how knowledgeable participants are on a topic. As a result, you might want to ask polling questions at the beginning of training sessions to evaluate knowledge level and to evaluate learning.

For example, let’s say you are facilitating a customer service training session to new hire employees who work at a bank. Here is an introductory polling question you could use online, to get people thinking about the topic.

What percentage of our customers indicate that they are highly satisfied with their recent experience with our bank?

A. 75%

B. 70%

C. 65%

D. 60%

After all learners have submitted their answers in the poll, you can share the correct answer and have the group discuss the findings.

Example 2 - Using polls and surveys in online training sessions

Here is another example, let’s say you are facilitating a session on mental health (which of course is a very relevant topic, given COVID-19). Here is how a survey could be used in an online environment:

Rank in the order of importance, the major causes of stress in your life. Select the top 3 from the list below.

  • Unemployment

  • Health

  • Family Relationships

  • Aging Parents

  • Finances

  • Work

  • Lack of Leisure Time

The facilitator could ask participants select their answer online, and to compare their results. The facilitator could then initiate an online discussion based on how participants answered this question and can then customize the dialogue to participants needs.

Let’s now look at how a virtual break-out room can be used.

Example 3 - Using Virtual Breakout Rooms for Online Training Sessions

Virtual breakout rooms are ideal for small group discussions as participants can interact using whiteboards, share their screen or files and/or audio and video clips to enhance the collaborative learning experience.

The following is an example of collaborative learning, by assigning two participants per Virtual Breakout Room.

With a partner, in a Virtual Breakout Room discuss the following questions and write down your answers on the whiteboard. Prepare to have your whiteboard answers shared with the entire group.

  • What do you know about this software application?

  • When will you use this software in the future?

  • What would you like to learn from today’s session?

Download Handouts, Sharing Notes & Files in Online Training Sessions

The following is an example of a case study that could used to actively engage the participants using the online download handout feature, shared notes and files.

Example 4: eLearning Case Study Using File Sharing

Your leader informs you that you will be responsible for programming an eLearning course using software. What are the steps you will take to create this module?

  • Review the handout you were sent with a partner in a Virtual Breakout Room.

  • Discuss and write down on the whiteboard the actions, that you would take to create the eLearning module and prepare to share your answers with the group.


Remember good adult learning principles apply to facilitating training session in the online world, and interactive activities are critical to ensure the participants learn!

If you are an organization looking to convert your classroom training sessions to online training or eLearning quickly, please feel free to reach out to any of Pathways instructional designers or programmers, we are here to help! #ConvertingClassroomTrainingToElearning, #TorontoElearningCompany, #CreatingOnlineCourses


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