Making Virtual Training Feel Less Virtual

Are you tired of being 100% virtual yet? A lot of people are. And that’s ok.

Unfortunately, it also makes our jobs in the world of instructional design and training a bit more difficult. Virtual Meeting Fatigue and Virtual Training Fatigue are real. So what’s an instructional designer to do?

Stop operating in “Emergency Mode”

We’ve been 100% virtual since St. Patrick’s Day, so organizations need to stop thinking that using the tools we’ve always used to cobble something together in perpetuity is ok. It’s not ok. If you’re still trying to use Skype or Microsoft Teams or even GoToMeeting to actually train people because it’s the platform your company has used to connect virtually for the past five years, then continuing to upskill your people is clearly not a priority.

Sound adult learning practices are the first way to help your learners feel less like they’ve been shoved into training purgatory, sitting through sessions with little interaction. Virtual delivery actually presents a number of opportunities you may not even find in the classroom with breakout rooms and polling that are easy to set up.

Sound adult learning practices are the first way to help your learners feel less like they've been shoved into training purgatory, sitting through sessions with little interaction. Click To Tweet

Companies are saving a ton of money on travel these days. If you’re still feeling restricted in terms of the features of your current platform, asking to divert funds that have already been budgeted for (but will not be spent on) travel could be a way to finally upgrade to Zoom or GoToTraining or WebEx or Adobe Connect.

Keep your instructional design basics tight

As I alluded to in the first point, taking full advantage of online features such as polling, breakout rooms, on-screen annotation, chat and document sharing is key to good engagement.

If you need your staff to demonstrate that they know how to correctly input information into an online system, then don’t just talk at them and share your own screen, have them share their screens and talk you through what they understand about the system. If you need people to list the steps in a process, have them type in the correct steps in the chat.

This article can help you determine what features are available on your platform and how to connect your learning objectives with online activities.

Send physical training materials

A client we’ve helped transition from in-person delivery to virtual delivery is sending training materials to their participants. When I talk about training materials, I’m not just talking about a Participant Guide with job aids and handouts for them to physically use as they’re following along in virtual sessions. I’m also talking about green and pink note cards that they need to hold up to their webcam during an activity.

Yes, you could use the voting feature for this activity, but physically having participants hold up note cards to their webcam allows facilitators to see who is answering in which way, and doesn’t allow participants to wait and see how others are answering.

Taking advantage of the webcam and sending materials beyond just the Participant Guide can be a way for your participants to physically feel a part of the training program (as opposed to having to download and maybe print their own files).

As long as sending stuff is on the table…

Why not make it a true virtual happy hour and send margarita mix to your group? Is it a virtual coffee, send a Starbucks gift card (or perhaps even send some Dunkin Donuts coffee beans to each person).

Want to collect information about the session? Ask participants to write down their biggest take-away and return it in a postage-paid envelope.

We don't have to limit virtual delivery to solely what happens on the computer. Click To Tweet

Have you experienced a way to make virtual delivery feel less “virtual”? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section!

A great way to find new and interesting activities that match your learning outcomes is to try Soapbox.

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