Our journey to powerful and engaging online learning facilitation.
May 2020, we were sitting at our first Zoom meeting of the pandemic. Our delivery was mediocre at best. We transferred what we did offline to online, but participants seemed fatigued and unengaged. Simply making sessions shorter and including whiteboards didn’t help much. The problem was that we couldn’t just create an online version of our training, we had to rethink virtual delivery. It felt like a slap in the face.
Fast forward to March 2022, our virtual facilitation sessions are now awesome! We managed to come up with an entire new set of features and ways to make virtual facilitation on point and efficient. Turns out that, in many ways, it works even better than in-person training. Finally we managed to electrify the room just as we did in person.
So let’s share some things you need to keep in mind when designing virtual training modules.
1. Take advantage of flexible schedules
One of the biggest advantages of virtual training is that it does not require the commute time to a specific location, and because of that, training sessions can be spread out by modules. A 3-day session with 24 contact hours can easily be spread over 3 months. This allows time for reflection, implementation, and practice between sessions.
2. Design collaborative and interactive workshops
In the past, training facilitators were content ninjas – now they also have to be virtual workshop ninjas, and able to create a virtual experience from any type of content. We like to focus on collaboration and interaction. One way we do that is by introducing Mini Design Sprints to solve real challenges of the participants. These are multi-step Design Thinking style workshops that facilitate outcomes in a short time. They bring people together to work on solutions that highlight the theme of the model at hand. Design Sprints work even better on Miro than in person, as you have all the content of the process recorded in one large whiteboard.
3. Focus on facilitation skills
Trainers rely on charisma but struggle to transfer that into the virtual experience. With virtual training, the star of the show is no longer the trainer but the facilitation itself. Now preparation is paramount, as virtual sessions require much more detailed microplanning. It is also quite important to create human moments. You can design an exciting facilitation session with meditation, stretches, music breaks, coffee dates in breakout rooms, etc. You will have much better engagement with the participants and feel much more confident to carry on the program.
4. Build up your confidence for longer sessions
Longer virtual sessions can be intimidating!! That is why many clients try to reduce contact hours per individual session to 2 hours or less. But when you have the necessary skills and tools for it, you can build confidence even for longer sessions. We strongly believe in full training experience immersion for participants to really get out of their daily routine and get into the right mindset for learning and reflection. Even 4h sessions can be amazing and flow smoothly with interactive facilitation styles.
5. Traditional training experience architecture still matters
When designing virtual experiences, you shouldn’t forget what is at the core of training architecture: having a clear learning objective, customizing the content for your audience, balancing theory with relevant case discussions, creating sharp exercises, creating a space of trust for participants and being inclusive in your facilitation.
We have deeply fallen in love with virtual training experiences, which is one of the biggest surprises for us throughout the pandemic. In fact we now even suggest and offer hybrid programs, with in-person and virtual moments.
Do you want to figure out which one fits your team better? Get to know our training experiences! Together we will craft a beautiful narrative and actionable agenda for your journey.