The first part of this two part series offered tips and best practices for the virtual classroom, or synchronous virtual training.
Asynchronous virtual training, where participants access content on demand and according to their own schedules, offers a number of effective learning opportunities. Here are some tips for increasing engagement and adoption of material presented in this way.
Relevance: The single most important focus of any virtual training should be on how to relate the content to the learner. This becomes especially important when planning an asynchronous delivery since no real-time feedback from the participant is available. How will the information improve the learners’ abilities to do their jobs, pass an exam or in some other way improve their lives? This should be explicit and restated periodically when there’s an opportunity to highlight a connection between course material and its post-training application.
Humor: It’s desirable, even in technical or product training, to make the content as interesting as possible. Using real life examples and humorous anecdotes to illustrate how the information applies to the real world are key to both comprehension and post-training application of the skills. Don’t be afraid to add humor; there’s nothing like some unexpected wit to help anchor something in memory.
Delivery platform: Use a platform that is easy to navigate and most importantly, easy to learn quickly. Many participants may be non-native English speakers, so the instructions need to be intuitive and/or available in a multi-language format.
Modalities: Incorporate a variety of modalities into the training such as video, audio and gaming in addition to “flat” text. The use of interactive quizzes to periodically test for comprehension is a great tool and increases the effectiveness to the training.
Units: Virtual students seldom have large blocks of time to devote to online training. The assumption should be that the training will not be completed in one sitting, so organize the material into logical sections that can be completed in 30 – 45 minutes. Bookmarking should be automatic so that the participant is directed back to the same place upon her/his return to the program.
Help: Even the most intuitive platforms will encounter technical issues or questions about registration, credit for work completed, login credentials and passwords. Make sure there is adequate technical support for the logistics around your asynchronous learning platform.
As a final note, the most effective virtual training programs incorporate both asynchronous and synchronous learning. The asynchronous component allows for content to be accessed and assimilated whenever it’s convenient for the participant. Adding a synchronous training component afterwards that doesn’t simply reiterate what was presented online but focuses on its application takes the effectiveness of the training to the next level. Once the content has been covered online, the real-time virtual sessions can be more interactive and used for sharing examples, discussing concerns and answering questions. This is a more effective use of both the facilitator’s and the participant’s time.
Best of luck going forward, and Happy Training!
Read Part One here.