Classroom Training v Online Training … A Dead Heat?

Blended learning has been a term that's been around for a few years now. Using technology to combine classroom training with online for effciency, a better use of budget, a way of accommodating different learning styles and so on.

Online has always been trumpeted as the way forwards, and of late it's now moved on again to giving people just seconds and minutes of micro-content, apparently buying into the stereotype that the Gen Z younger people don't have the time or attention-spans to engage! So why have traditional face-to-face, 'in the office' workshops still remained popular? Probably because of that very thing we are now all missing as we are chained to our homes 24/7: the physical presence of people; being able to leisurely chat, talk and reason things through over an extended time period. A Zoom meeting discussion just doesn't seem to gel in the same way as a meeting with us all together in a bricks and mortar room. Talking over each other virtually is a nightmare in a way that is less so when we are physically together! So can online, live training ever really work?

Having spent ten years with Lightbulb training thousands of people 'classroom' style I have shifted, with everyone else, to delivery online. It has forced me to consider how to make this as effective, if not more so, than the traditional methods and so here are my quick tips for interest, participation and ultimately: learning.

1) Deliver it in less time. Lightbulb's workshops are all half-a-day or less but even half-a-day is too long when delivering online. You are asking someone to just sit there looking at a screen as opposed to moving about, talking to the person next to them etc.

2) Punchier content. People can multitask (and usually without you knowing). Other screens are open and its difficult as the trainer to see what else someone is doing in a small rectangle on your screen! Think books and TV dramas - the content needs to have lots of high dramatic points throughout to stop people switching channels! Ditch the awful icebreakers and drawn-out activities you might be getting away with in half and one-day classroom formats. Reduce everything you normally say by 50% to keep only the must-know, good stuff.

3) Give people breaks as you would do in physical rooms.

4) PowerPoint friendly! Looking at the trainers PowerPoint on a 60 inch screen in a room is not the same as viewing on someones shared desktiop. Less text, bigger font, more visuals are needed.

5) Increase opportunities for each person to participate. It is easier to opt-out when I'm sitting in the comfort of my own home! If the trainer is going to call on me, or I need to be involved in something I'm more likely to stay attentive throughout. Don't be doing all the talking for more than a few minutes at a time.

6) Post-workshop activities/reminders. Give them something to do beyond the session to help embed the learning/practise things. There will be less opportunities for using handouts when delivering online so tools that remind on the key content are vital. This works well too when breaking up the sessions over a number of days or weeks.

What else have you considered in your online training?

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