6 Strategies to Maintain Relevant Virtual Learning Programs

February 13, 2018 10:23 by Dana Peters
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to the long-term survival of the virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs you develop and deploy in the ever changing organization you serve. As a learning and development professional, are you prepared to respond quickly when: Leadership changes happen? A merger or acquisition is announced? The vision, mission, or goals of the company shift? A swing in your market place occurs, positive or negative? You, your colleagues, and your vILT programs must be flexible and prepared to react to these changes. But how? We suggest the following strategies: Develop Rough Action Plans   Take time to think about realistic scenarios you could face in the near future that would impact the effectiveness of your vILT programs dramatically. Develop a rough action plan to give you a leg up if one of these scenarios were to actually occur.   Follow a Continuous Improvement Process   Once you’ve designed and implemented a vILT program, it’s important to maintain it to make sure your program continues to be relevant and aligns with the needs of the business. Reviewing your vILT programs on a regular basis allows you to refresh portions of each program as updates are needed. Without a continuous review and evaluation, your program can quickly become obsolete, and without the occasional minor update, you may experience the need for a complete overhaul to your program. Or, worse yet, the program in question may be seen as bringing no value and be eliminated altogether.   Evaluate Your Program’s Impact   In line with continuously reviewing your vILT programs, it’s important to survey your learners and the business on a regular basis. Gaining feedback from your learners will help you make sure you’re meeting their individual needs. Surveying the business will confirm you are meeting the company’s learning goals and objectives.   Educate and Inform Leadership   As a learning and development professional, you know your programs inside and out. Your leadership team may not. In order to showcase the value of your programs, involve leadership in the process. Make sure they are aware of how the vILT programs are meeting the needs of the business, and share with them the feedback you collect from your learners. For more information on how best to track the value of your vILT programs, check out our previous post: Designing Virtual Learning That Pays Off: Measuring Success Back on the Job.   Enlist Advocates to Help Communicate Value and Results   Along the lines of educating your leadership team, vILT programs should be championed at all levels of the company. If the value of your programs has been communicated effectively, when changes occur in the company that impact your offerings, you’ll have the advantage of advocates on many fronts. If changes to your programs need to be made, multiple perspectives from your advocates can diversify the conversation on how to meet needs.   Be Proactive   Once a new vILT program is underway, it’s important for your Learning and Development team to remain engaged. Monitor the learner feedback and regularly check in with the leadership team to make sure your program is still on target with company objectives and goals. Being “high touch” will allow your Learning and Development team to proactively recommend changes on the front side rather than reacting after the fact. Your ability to maintain flexibility within your vILT programs will ensure its long- term success. What strategies have you implemented to maintain a robust and relevant learning program that meets the needs of the business you serve?

Happy Birthday Mondo Learning Solutions!

January 25, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters
Mondo Learning Solutions is celebrating six years in business today! Our small business became officially registered with the state of Wisconsin on January 25, 2011, and we couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve accomplished since then. In six years, we’ve worked with some amazing clients, many who have been with us since the very beginning, and still more who hire us for ongoing services as our company continues to grow. Repeat and referral business has been instrumental in the success of our company, and speaks volumes to the quality services we set out to provide from day one. As you may well know, our purpose is to help our clients plan, design, and deliver groundbreaking online learning training and events. Over time, we’ve grown our company to one that provides services, consulting, and professional development opportunities, solely focused on the virtual learning space. As I reflect on our history I am amazed at what has been accomplished: We have developed a consulting approach that focuses on four components to success in the virtual learning, presentation, and meeting space. In 2016, we supported more than 500 virtual learning sessions. Since inception we have been involved in the design and implementation of nearly 50 virtual learning courses around the world. We’ve grown our expertise in several platforms including Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoToTraining, Blackboard Collaborate, and Zoom. In addition to English, we have the ability to deliver services and facilitate sessions in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and German. I left the corporate world, and made the decision to start this business in August 2010. Today, the Mondo Learning Solutions family now consists of over 15 learning experts and consultants. Ten are based here in the United States, one in Germany, one in Brazil, and one in China. We are a small but mighty family, and we plan to continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of our global clients as necessary. Celebrating six years in business has given us time to reflect on the things we’ve accomplished as a company.  The path may not be exactly as we envisioned, but it has truly been a fantastic ride. Cheers to six years in business! Thank you to all our clients and readers. Here’s to many more successful years.

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Learning | Presentation | Training

Using Movie Trailers to Prepare Your Participants

November 3, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
Successful virtual learning programs engage learners before they even log in the virtual classroom. The purpose of bringing learners together live and online is to allow for the opportunity to collaborate, explore new ideas, and build on each other’s experiences. Time in class together is very precious. The work we ask our learners to invest independently, before class in prework, should set the knowledge base foundation they will need to be an active contributor in class and add value to their learning experience. As instructional designers, specifically for courses that take place in the virtual classroom, we have developed a variety of different types of prework. Recently, we created pre-work for a few clients that also doubled as promotional video clips for virtual training courses we were developing. We called them movie trailers. These short videos are easy to view and not only help inform potential participants about the session to create interest in registering, but quickly educates them on core concepts related to the topic in an entertaining way. I wanted to pass along the tool that we used to create these clips.  Filmora is a video editing software that provides frame-by-frame preview, basic editing capabilities, and simple and advanced effects in an easy-to-use, modern interface. In addition to on screen titles and text, split screen capabilities, and picture in picture, the screen-recording feature allows you to record video directly from your computer. So if you’re doing a promo video for a training session on internal process procedures or software, you can capture video that directly illustrates the process. The video stabilization feature can help steady even an amateur videographer’s shaky hand, or fast-moving images. Overall, we found Filmora to be extremely user friendly. You can utilize a lot of the program’s capabilities with the free version, but may need to upgrade (for a minimal cost) if your plan is to share or post your video on the web. What tools are you using to create video clips?

Building Bulletproof Online Training Programs

June 5, 2014 08:03 by Dana Peters
When talking with clients new to virtual instructor-led training (VILT), I am often asked: “What do we need to get absolutely right to be successful training our employees online in the live virtual classroom?” From our perspective, when the following four components are “done right” an organization is in the optimal position to deliver high-quality virtual learning programs that meet the intended learning objectives. Here they are: Well-aligned virtual platform tools and technology With over 100 virtual classroom platforms, and growing, available on the market today, learning and development departments are not short on options. Selecting the most appropriate tools and technology to meet your organization’s unique programing needs and to achieve your learning program objectives is an important component to positioning your program for ongoing success. A well-aligned learning platform and any related technology tools will be more than capable of meeting the needs of your designers, your delivery team, and your learners. A meticulously prepared facilitation team Everyone involved in the delivery of virtual classes needs to have the appropriate skills necessary to meet and exceed their duties in this environment. Whether it be as the facilitator or trainer, the producer or host, or as the technical support person. Well-defined roles, a solid training program, opportunities for skill practice with feedback and coaching, and an extensive preparation process is required for each person involved to perform at the level necessary for a best-in-class virtual training program. Solid content design, especially created for the live online environment In order to deliver an engaging virtual instructor-led training (VILT) learning experience, the instructional design of each course needs to be specifically created for the VILT environment. Materials from other delivery modalities are good resources, but they will not stand alone successfully in the virtual classroom. They need to be transitioned to take advantage of the delivery tools and functionality your learning platform offers. Structurally, courses will be segmented differently, activities and exercises will be approached differently, and the application of pre- course work, in-between session work, and post-session follow-up components will be applied. A culture and climate that encourages, supports, and prepares online participants Often organizations spend all of their time and energy selecting the right technology, grooming their delivery team, and creating instructionally sound classes, yet their virtual learning program is not meeting their expectations. The energy and demand they anticipated for the program is flat. Why? Often what is overlooked is the time and effort necessary to create a culture and climate that encourages, supports, and prepares online learners. This means marketing the program internally, taking steps to garner executive-level support, and implementing steps to adequately prepare learners to learn in the virtual environment. I would love to hear your thoughts on these components. Is this dead on from your experience or is there something you would add?

Making the Move: Transitioning Face-To-Face Courses to the Virtual Classroom

April 23, 2014 12:10 by Dana Peters
Repurposing, redesigning, transitioning, transforming, or converting. No matter what label you give it, moving a face-to-face classroom course to the virtual classroom is more complicated than it initially appears. At first glance, it seems quite simple. The learning objectives are defined, the course has already been developed, the PowerPoint is ready to go, and the facilitators could deliver the session in their sleep. Transfer all this over to the virtual classroom in a few days and we are ready to go, right? Wrong. In order to design and deliver an engaging virtual instructor-led training (VILT) learning experience, many elements need to be taken into account. Let's explore a few. Back to the Beginning Take a look at the face-to-face course with a fresh set of eyes. Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the face-to-face course currently in place will allow you the opportunity to make improvements and leverage what is working well when you design your VILT course. Consider doing the following: Walk through the learning objectives with the stakeholder, the subject matter expert, and the face-to-face classroom trainer to update learning goals. Review the results from the course as it stands now. Is the current training meeting these goals? Gather feedback from recent course participants. Ask questions like: What concept, process or idea were you able to apply back on the job? What did you like most about the training and why? What was the least relevant item covered in the course? Simply ask all parties involved how this course could be better. Taking the time to review, evaluate, and redefine the course objectives prior to transitioning a course to the virtual classroom sets the stage for success. Delivering a class in the virtual classroom is a whole new ballgame. Facilitating learning in a virtual classroom requires a different set of skills on the part of the trainer. There are several common delivery mistakes we see trainers make as they move from working the traditional face-to-face classroom environment to the virtual classroom. Why not learn from those mistakes and avoid some of the following pitfalls: Lecturing. Listening to someone talk for an hour in the face-to-face classroom doesn't work so why would the virtual classroom be any different? Trying to do it all. Managing all the tools and technology while trying to deliver content, facilitate collaboration, share experiences, and connect with your learners is often too much for one person to handle. Especially when the VILT landscape is a new working environment for you. Consider enlisting the support of a producer (aka host or moderator). This second pair of helpful hands will allow you to focus on facilitating learning, not resolving technical issues. Reading from a script. This lulls participants to sleep or drives them to multitasking. A script is a good tool to help you get comfortable with the material and work seamlessly with your producer, but you will lose your participants very quickly if you read from it during your session. Eliminating the exercises and activities. All too often the hands-on learning gets lost in the transition from the face-to-face classroom to the virtual classroom. Think about how you could use the virtual classroom tools to create collaborative exercises to meet your learning objectives. Not using your annotation tools to focus attention. Sometimes facilitators get so caught up in the point they are trying to make verbally that they forget to use the pointer, highlighter, and drawing tools to help focus participants' attention on what is being discussed. Being too controlling. Be flexible with how your participants are interacting and encourage activity that promotes sharing and involvement in the learning. Consider allowing participants to chat with each other at any time and encourage this communication. Also, avoid asking participants to hold their questions until the end of the session. Make the Most of Your Time Time is a precious commodity in the virtual classroom. It is important to make sure that the time that you have in class is used to drive home the key learning points and make the learning relevant to your participants. To do this, keep the following in mind: Assign pre-course work. If some of your exercises will require participants to bring ideas and thoughts to the table, give them the opportunity to do this thinking and exploration independently before they come to class. Pre-course work is also an excellent way to assign reading and to allow participants to become familiar with basic information on the learning topic. Break things down into small chunks. These shorter bite-sized pieces will keep your session moving and help maintain attention from your participants. Every slide, question, activity, game, and discussion should serve a purpose that works toward the learning objectives. We have outlined just a few of the elements to consider when transitioning face-to-face classes to VILT. What else would you add?    

The Next Chapter for Mondo Learning Solutions?

April 1, 2014 12:11 by Dana Peters
If you follow me or my company closely, you know we have been in business for a few years now and our focus has been on connecting corporate learning & development professionals with the highest quality learning experts in the field. Acting as a learning matchmaker of sorts, not only have we learned a lot operating under this broad-brush business model, but also we are evolving from it. Old habits die hard and my corporate strategic planning instincts are still in my blood. So this past October, as usual, I sat down to reflect on what we have accomplished and where we are headed. In the back of my mind I had a sense of where we were at, but I think it is important to look at all the data together: client feedback, where leads are coming from, where our relationships are strongest, where clients need help, what we are good at, and where the revenue is coming from. The outcome of all this? For us, all roads lead to the virtual-instructor led training (VILT) space, and so begins the next chapter of Mondo Learning Solutions. We are excited to focus our energies into helping our clients plan, design, and deliver groundbreaking live online training and events. We will continue to connect organizations with the highest quality independent experts and niche training firms, but now we are laser-focused on the live online learning arena. Curious about what this all means? We’ve updated the website to reflect the services we offer, the areas in which we consult, and the professional development workshops available. Visit us at www.mondolearning.com to learn more.

Pitfalls of Virtual Classroom Training

March 20, 2014 15:23 by Dana Peters
A few weeks ago, I responded to a post on Chief Learning Officer Magazine’s discussion group on LinkedIn. My comments received several “likes” so I thought our readers here might enjoy this information as well. Here was the posted question: Pitfalls of Virtual Classroom Training. Like all training modalities, virtual classroom has its own requirements, considerations and unique demands. What pitfalls have you experienced with virtual classroom technology, and how can they be overcome? Here was my entry. (Warning, I got a little long-winded.) ____________________________________________________________________________________________ I’ll kick things off. Here are a few pitfalls from our experience: Starting a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) initiative without doing your homework. VILT is something that should be approached with thought, consideration, and planning. We have consulted with clients recovering from the aftermath of jumping into the VILT deep end. It’s better to take the time planning, preparing, and gaining the internal support needed on the front side. We suggest a pilot in which the first offering is not complicated or terribly complex - low hanging fruit, something small in scale but brings immediate value. Creating an early win helps gain support and will generate some energy for the program.Gaining buy-in from trainers and instructional designers that have always worked with traditional face-to-face courses. Sometimes there is resistance.A colleague of mine offers this perspective. Presenting online combines two things many adults do not embrace enthusiastically: public speaking and technology. He works with all sorts of virtual presenters. In the case of face-to-face classroom trainers, I have found some of the resistance comes from learning the technology involved, but more of it stems from not being able to see their learners’ faces and read body language. Many trainers question how they could ever be as effective virtually as they are in person. To work on buy-in with face-to-face trainers and designers, we explore how these two different learning environments are the same, but different: First, we ask them to make a detailed list of everything that defines a successful training course or session in the face-to-face classroom. Next, we create a detailed list of everything that will define a successful training course in the virtual classroom. Then we compare the two lists. Usually the “ah-ha” moment comes here when the group sees the overlap between the lists. They typically conclude what defines success is the same regardless of where the class takes place. The difference is how the course is designed and the delivery techniques that are utilized. Inadequately prepared facilitators/trainers/presenters.This pitfall is easily avoided but often occurs because the time (and money) has not been spent on professional development. There are numerous opportunities for virtual trainers to develop the skills needed to be effective; whether it be workshops, courses, one-on-one coaching, dress rehearsals, or practice sessions. In addition to having developed the skills to work in the VILT environment, here are a few additional prevention tips to avoid being inadequately prepare: It is important for trainers to allow plenty of preparation time in advance of their delivery. It is much more difficult to wing it in the virtual classroom. Always have a “Plan B” and “Plan C” in case the technology fails you, which it will from time to time. Virtual classrooms involve a lot of moving parts which can be very challenging for one person to handle. When possible, we recommend using a producer to support each delivery. This allows the trainer to focus on the learners and the course content, leaving the technology for the producer to manage. I will stop here. I am sure all of us working in this space could write a book on the pitfalls and potential remedies. I am looking forward to reading the thoughts of others. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ If you belong to the group, I encourage you to check out the discussion thread. There are several great comments. What pitfalls would you add to the list I have started here?

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eLearning | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning

The Role of a Virtual Learning Session Producer … Defined

November 11, 2013 14:33 by Dana Peters
Some potential clients, interested in our Virtual Learning Session Producer Services, come to us with a clearly defined set of producer duties and responsibilities they would like to outsource. Others, know they need a second pair of hands to support their virtual classes, but are not exactly sure what that role looks like in their environment. With an uptick in inquiries about how we support live online classes, I thought it fitting to resurrect some of the content from a newsletter article I wrote about a year ago defining the producer role. What is a producer? A producer is someone who handles the majority of the technical aspects of a Virtual Instructor-Lead Training (VILT) Session. The producer allows the facilitator (trainer or presenter) to focus on the delivery of the content and their learners. We are going with the term producer for this post, but, keep in mind, what we referred to as a producer is also known as a host or moderator. Specific producer responsibilities can vary by organization, but the following are what we see consistently. Producers: Invite participants to the session and make sure they have everything they need before class. Arrive early to make sure the classroom is ready to go and all functionality is working properly. Await the participants’ arrival and welcome them to class. Address/resolve connectivity issues to ensure participants are ready to go when class starts. Kick off the session, review the session tools the participants will utilize, and introduce the facilitator. Handle technical questions, issues, and problems that arise during the session. Manage chat and respond to any messages. Alert the facilitator when he or she needs to be involved or address something. Document items on the whiteboard. Manage breakout sessions and assist the facilitator with other session activities. Launch applications, set-up breakout rooms, and manage polling for the facilitator. Co-facilitate as requested. Reset the classroom at the conclusion of the session. Handle post-session evaluations (collect and collate). Handle homework reminders and questions. Complete any post-session reporting as required. Abilities of a successful producer: Natural ability to improvise - always has a plan B and often a plan C. Clear and polished verbal communication. Multi-tasking is second nature. Strong grasp on technology and a quick study with new tools. Flexible and able to “roll” with whatever comes up. Virtual Intuition – reads virtual body language well. A warm and welcoming demeanor. Natural problem solver. Works well under pressure. Has an eye for detail. Why should a producer be part of the equation? The producer manages the technical aspects of the session and learner administrative duties which allow the facilitator to focus completely on the delivery of the session content and their learners. If there are technical issues before or during the session, especially at the individual participant level, the facilitator can continue to facilitate class while the producer troubleshoots the technical issues. Multiple voices and personalities provide a natural “change up” at certain points during the session which can help increase participant engagement. For facilitators that are just learning the virtual delivery “ropes”, having a producer can help them become more confident and comfortable in the virtual classroom. When I wrote about this in our newsletter, I received several comments and perspectives from our readers about the responsibilities of the producer role. What are you experiences?

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Online Learning | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning

Getting Your Arms Around Virtual Instructor-Led Training (4 of 4)

May 23, 2013 13:37 by Dana Peters
Well here we are; the last post in my four part series. If you have been following along, you already know this series was inspired by a recent phone conversation with a colleague in which we talked through several questions she had as she approached her upcoming Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) program implementation project. [More]

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eLearning | Online Learning | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning

Getting Your Arms Around Virtual Instructor-Led Training (3 of 4)

May 9, 2013 11:39 by Dana Peters
If you have been following this blog, you are probably aware I am in the midst of 4 part series addressing a set of questions that came from a recent phone conversation with a colleague. The objective of her questions was to support her planning efforts as she was deciding how to proceed with implementing Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) in her organization. [More]

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eLearning | Online Learning | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning