Setting Learner Expectations for the Virtual Classroom: Why, When, and How.

February 28, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters

In addition to dynamite content, setting expectations for your virtual instructor-led training (vILT) courses are an important ingredient to the recipe for success.

But how do you make sure your learners are ready and prepared for success in your virtual class?
There are many layers to that onion, but today, I’d like to discuss learner expectation setting in regard to why, when, and how.

The Why

Once your course is ready to go live, it’s important to inform your learners about the class, but it goes far beyond just sending out the class link inviting people to attend.

The whole point of your virtual class is to meet the learning goal and stated learning objectives. If the learner doesn’t know why they are taking the class, what value it has to them personally, and what they need to do to be successful before, during, and after class, it is very unlikely that the class will be a success. Simply stated, setting learner expectations for your vILT classes is key to your success and theirs.

The When

When does setting expectations for our virtual classroom learner happen? To successfully set learner expectations it needs to be communicated (and reinforced) at every communication touchpoint. That means…

  • When they read the course description
  • When they register for the course
  • When they received their course confirmation
  • When they look at the meeting appointment on their calendar
  • When they receive or access their pre-work
  • When they receive their reminders leading up to class
  • When they open their participant guide
  • When they first log into the classroom

And it needs to continue through the duration and completion of the course as well.

The How

The “how” centers on good communication. The message about what you are expecting from your virtual learner at every possible opportunity needs to be clear, concise, and consistent.

Define your expectations about:

  • Pre-work requirements
  • Testing links and equipment ahead of time
  • Their environment in which they will be joining class from
  • What’s in it for them
  • Their arrival time
  • Attendance
  • Participation during the session
  • Post session work or next steps back on the job

Part of setting expectations is repetition. Your learners are busy people with lots of demands competing for their attention. This is why your communication about expectations needs to be concise, consistent, and frequent…at every touch point. The other part is a bit of a sales and marketing job. Your message should clearly answer the following question: What is the value to the learner of meeting the expectations you have set forth?

What are your ideas around setting learner expectations in the virtual classroom?

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