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?

Comments (2) -

Warda Zaman
Warda Zaman United States
7/10/2014 8:16:07 AM #

Yes Dana,

I agree. The last paragraph about getting buy-in is a key organizational development intervention which many people overlook. I have seen people say 'Oh but we sent the email' and think that the process is over. Actually that is where the awareness has just begun and for people to take action, additional methods such as the ones you have listed are essential for success. I also think harnessing word of mouth is critical because many people engage in things or adopt new ideas because their peers are doing the same.

Thanks,

Warda

Reply

Dana Peters
Dana Peters United States
7/11/2014 11:09:02 AM #

Thank you for your thoughts, Warda. We do find the last component (A culture and climate that encourages, supports, and prepares online participants) is often overlooked in many organizations. One of our upcoming blog posts will be about how you go about accomplishing this. Stay tuned!

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