Learning & Development

Why you can’t use the same learner delivery model online as offline

22 June 2020 by Heidi Marshall

Learning using remote channels is not as simple as translating what was available offline and previously delivered face-to-face in a workshop or classroom, into an online environment. Careful consideration needs to be given to the learning outcomes and how these can best be achieved using remote channels.

Together with our L&D network, we have explored the key challenges faced when delivering learning online, and how to overcome these.  

How to ensure the online content is high impact, the learning agenda is achieved, and learners get value from each experience.  

Don’t do too much in one session or you risk losing the learner. You can’t take a one-day face to face workshop and just deliver it online. You need to break it down into bite-sized chunks and consider delivering it over a number of different sessions. It’s all about interactivity and engagement. Whilst less is best, make sure that your learners still walk away with a rich learning experience that they can put into practice right away. 

How to offer a human, personal experience that is concise and engaging, online. 

A big part of a face-to-face learning experience is the opportunity to network. This is possible to recreate online, with a series of short sessions – max 2 hours, with a long break in the middle, focusing on topics that are affecting people.  

How to support our employees to continue learning with challenging work-situations. 

There needs to be a focus on the learner and what is in it for them. This is especially true with the currentshift in individuals’ priorities, such as juggling home-schooling and work. Some of our clients have been looking creatively at digital credentials, badging, interactive career pathways. In general, our clients need their employees to be well-rounded in terms of their capabilities, so now more than ever we have to find ways to encourage people to try new things and not be pigeon-holed in their roles. 

How to get people more confident with the technology, particularly in time-pressured environments or where they don’t have the right tools and training.

Find some time to practise and understand what can go wrong. If something goes wrong, how you handle it goes right to the learners. It’s ok to show vulnerability - ‘it’s not what I intended but here’s what we can do instead.’, or have an activity to do whilst you sort any technical issues out. Plan for the worst – what happens if your mouse goes and you don’t have a spare battery. Think about what could go wrong and put in place contingencies.  

How to maintain energy levels online.  

Maintaining energy when you are coaching or delivering any kind of learning is easy face-to-face. You can move around the room and engage people with lots of eye contact. When you are staring at a screen this is harder. But you can stand up when you are presenting online, you need to get your tech to support you to do this, but it’s worth it to demonstrate the energy. Webcams, green screens, lighting, all help to raise energy levels and movement. You should also give permission for learners to move around in sessions – and if they feel more comfortable, they can turn their cameras off whilst doing so 

How to replicate face-to-face discussion.

The Flipped Learning Model works well online. If learners come to a session having done some pre-reading and are prepared with questions, the sessions run more effectively. Obviously, the challenge is to give them the time and permission to do this in advance. Think about what you can give people to read in advance. Ask them to come with questions. Even if only half of them do this, it will encourage interactive discussions.   

When delivering workshops and training remotely there are a number of things you should consider:  

  1. Make sure participants get involved right at the start. Have a poll, something tactile to gather their thoughts and feelings. This helps to get them engaged in the session.  
  2. Make it clear, up front, that this is not a webinar – a one-way message being delivered. This session is about participation, so ask people to turn off phones, other programmes on computers etc. 
  3. Slides help to anchor the conversation, but don’t leave them up too long or you will lose people. Less is more – in terms of content, but more is more in terms of slides. You can’t sit on a slide for more than 2 minutes. Keep the focus going with the slides. One message per slide, very visual – pictures speak a thousand words. Try not to talk at people, even when you have to give a lot of information.  
  4. Utilise the chat functions. Everyone needs ‘airtime’ in workshops. 
  5. Always do a dry run – even if it’s with a pet. Don’t be late to your own workshop.  
  6. Visualisation helps – visualise your most engaged learner and think of them when you are presenting a topic. Focus on the really engaged person because that’s where you’ll get your energy from. 
  7. Use people’s names and keep it personal when you use the chat function.
  8. Get people to raise their hands in whatever way – chat functions, answering yes or no.  

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