Tip #830: A Shoo-In for Virtual Training

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean

A major concern about virtual training is how to keep participants engaged when they have so many distractions available. Virtual trainers are advised to have the participants do an activity every 2 or 5 or 10 minutes, depending on the reference source.

If your classroom training is already participant-based and highly interactive, I’m finding it is not that difficult to convert it to virtual training. A day-long training can be broken into short segments with 10-minute breaks every hour and an hour for lunch, just as it is handled in the classroom. Many of the learning activities can be accommodated and simulated with virtual platform tools, particularly the reaction tools, the breakout rooms and the whiteboards.

For example, I begin my face-to-face classes with a quick start in which two participants seated next to each other discuss what they hope to learn from the session. Placing participants into a breakout room as they enter to meeting will let them have that discussion.

I ask common ground questions (“How many of you…”) to prime participants into actively engaging. I ask them to raise their hand when the question is relevant to them. They can easily raise their “hand” in a virtual platform.

There is a questionnaire that makes statements to which participants are expected to agree and disagree- by putting their thumb either up or down. That, too, is an available virtual platform reaction, or yes/no or green check mark/red x. Or a poll may be more fun.

To create “expert” groups, I have seasoned and unseasoned participants join together. The seasoned participants share what they wish they’d known when they began. The unseasoned participants ask a question they’ve wanted to ask of someone with more experience. They can do this in a breakout room if I have pre-identified who is seasoned and who isn’t. Then their group can be kept together for the morning activities that require breakout sessions. (I’d change up the groups for the afternoon.)

For introductions, I like to have participants introduce themselves and then throw a Koosh ball to the next person. In the virtual training, I can have a slide with either pictures of each participant or their names in circles- and replace throwing the Koosh ball with using an annotation pen and having the participant circle the next person who should give an introduction.

To replace small group braining storming activities where responses are posted on a flipchart, I can place the small groups in a breakout room and have them write on a whiteboard.

We can obviously use the whiteboard for large group brainstorming as well.

Role plays can easily work in breakout rooms. The group can decide who will report out in the larger group by raising a “hand” and waiting to be called on.

Some large group brainstorming can be handled with the chat feature. I’ve been advised to ask everyone to wait for a signal before they enter their chat, so I can see everything at one time instead of watching it scroll so quickly I miss some of the entries.

Art activities, like mind mapping and creating cartoons, can be completed on a whiteboard if a group activity. If it is an individual activity, the participant can complete it on a piece of paper and raise it to the screen to show the rest of the small or large group.

Competitive brainstorming can happen in a breakroom.

A gallery walk can be simulated by having participants opt into different breakout rooms and write on whiteboards in the rooms.  We can then view the whiteboards in the large group.

I can do a Jeopardy activity by having the first person who raises a hand answer the question and select the next category and point value. As in the classroom, participants will be on the honor system to tabulate their total points.

A multiple-choice poll will work for the post-test and a short answer poll will work for the evaluation.

Most of these activities will require a great technical producer to manage or I’ll have to prearrange quite a lot. Any recommendations regarding how to handle the technical mechanics will be much appreciated.

If you are using virtual tools creatively, I’d also love to know what activities you’re doing.

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


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