Facilitating Webinars and Live Remote Training – 4 Tips

Facilitating webinars and live remote training

4 Tips on Facilitating Webinars and Live Remote Training

Webinars and live remote video training are quite popular and low-barrier options for digital learning in organisations. At times where increasingly many are working from home, we’ve seen a big uptick on the use of these mediums. However, many are still trying out these methods for the first time. For those who are new to the medium, or want to revise their existing practice, we decided to compile a few useful but sometimes overlooked tips from a facilitator’s perspective. Let’s take a look on facilitating webinars!

Disable participant videos in big groups

While it’s nice to see the faces of your participants and peers, running continuous live video may become a usability issue. This is because of bandwidth. Whereas a regular team video meeting runs fine on just about any platform, you may experience connection drops with larger groups, depending on your configuration. Transmitting video in two directions requires a lot more bandwidth than one-way delivery.

Therefore, when facilitating webinars, drop participant video streams in big groups or close their cameras unless absolutely necessary. If you have several dozens of people on the webinar, the interactivity is bound to drop anyways. In fact, when tuning into a presentation for instance, additional faces may even become a distraction.

Use text chats for questions and comments

When facilitating webinars, it’s often a good idea to also use the text chat instead of audio for learners to ask questions and comment. This has two major benefits. Firstly, you’ll avoid the messy moment when everyone is talking out of turn. Secondly, posing questions in writing enables others to read them too, in case they did not get it the first time. Furthermore, it also enables the facilitator to read the question to themselves before answering.

Get a separate moderator for larger sessions

When participant numbers exceed several, it’s often a good idea to bring an a separate moderator. While this helps to take some of the administrative responsibility off the shoulders of the facilitator, it also helps in a few other ways. For instance, the moderator can keep an eye on the discussion stream as the webinar progresses, to get an idea of questions that come up. Often, facilitating webinars already requires extra effort, so make sure to not overstretch the facilitator with too much responsibility. Additionally, a moderator can also prompt the facilitator to explore particular topics in more depth, based on immediate user feedback. During Q&As with large groups, it’s also rare that every question gets answered. Therefore, the moderator can curate the stream of questions ahead of time, to make sure that enough ground is covered.

Record sessions for later use

Many webinar tools come with the option of recording sessions. Generally, there are two great reasons for making use of that function. First of all, recording a session enables the facilitator to review their own performance. They can get an idea of what it looked like from a participant’s point of view, and adjust their own setup accordingly.

Secondly, informative sessions often provide good material for future learning activities. Good training videos take time to produce, and by recording sessions you can get a lot of raw material quickly. However, the emphasis on the word ‘raw’ material. We don’t generally recommend using recorded webinars as-is, and just upload them for users to later view. That rarely happens. Rather, there’s a great potential use for these recordings with a little bit of post-production work. Editing the videos, clipping them into digestible pieces and weeding out the less useful parts of the recording is a good starting point. From thereon, you could also use different tools to make the recording interactive. This helps to keep up learners’ engagement as they view the video at their own pace.

Final thoughts on facilitating webinars

While webinars are a widely used medium, it’s often the small things in their execution that make or break the experience. Whereas on this post we focused more on perhaps the “technical” aspects of running a webinar, it’s also important for facilitators to work on engaging the learners in different ways during sessions (here are some tips for that). And while live remote training is a great low-cost alternative, remember not to overdo it either. Other types of interactive digital learning activities may often provide better alternatives for conveying a message.

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Live Online Video Training Tips

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Amidst the COVID-19 epidemic, organisations have increasingly moved their learning and training to online. As employees often may work from home, online has become the primary medium for them to learn. While online learning can take place in many ways, we’ve seen a significant increase in live online video training. Whereas normal content digitalisation might be too time-consuming, organisations have found they can digitalise quickly with the help of e.g. webinars and video coaching sessions. However, for many practitioners and organisations, training online in this manner is something new. Therefore, we thought we’d put out a quick guide on how to make this kind of training engaging and effective.

The more interactivity, the better

Sometimes, online video training can be quite a dull affair. The format easily transposes into one-sided lecturing, where the learner’s role is just a passive listener. However, webinars and video sessions can be much more interactive. To really get the most out of the format, you should make it a two-way street. The more learners participate, the more engaged they’ll stay. Therefore, ask questions often, ask learners to share their own experiences, and use polls and exercises to break the routine and create engagement. Also, don’t be afraid to use humour, and try not only to connect with the learners but have them connect with each other.

If you’re presenting, rethink your “slides”

Often, online video training includes some kind of “presenting” by a trainer or facilitator. Especially in these times, it’s likely that the facilitator is using the same slide deck that they’d normally use in a face-to-face setting. However, that can be far from optimal. While you certainly shouldn’t scrap the material altogether, it often pays to make minor adjustments. First of all, in a face-to-face setting, people often rely on the presenter’s body language, tone and presence to take note e.g. when topics change or when key information comes up. However, most of these cues don’t get conveyed through the video. Therefore, you should make sure that the slides and material you use stands out in a way that enables learners to keep up with what’s going on. Instead of lots of text in on the standard corporate deck layout, use highly visual and attention grabbing elements.

Furthermore, don’t include too much information on the slides. You don’t want your learners drinking from the firehose. Similar to principles of microlearning, you’ll want to only present one talking point per slide. Also, by limiting the information on one slide, you’ll be changing slides more often, which helps to keep learners engaged. Also, focus on painting pictures not only through visuals, but also through storytelling. People remember great stories much better than lists of facts and numbers.

Keep it concise, and break it up often

While it’s important to keep the material concise, the same rule applies to the whole live online video training session itself. After all, we can only concentrate effectively for a limited time. Therefore, if your session runs more than an hour in length, you can question whether you’re doing things the most efficient way possible. Also, during the sessions, make sure you break it up often enough. Doing a quick refresher activity, polling, exercises etc. every 15 minutes or so activates the learners and enables them to clarify topics that they might not have fully grasped.

Use the functionalities of your online video training tool to their best

While you don’t necessarily have to invest a lot of money to get started with this type of live online video training, it’s still a good idea to use the tools to their best ability. Here are a few common features across different systems, and how you can use them:

  • Chats: You can use global and individual chats to engage learners, and enable them to ask questions. By posting questions in a chat, they won’t have to interrupt the flow of the facilitator.
  • Recording: most tools are also capable of recording the sessions, which lets learners view them at a later date. However, we don’t often recommend using the recordings as they are, but rather quickly editing them into a more coherent and fast-paced pieces.
  • Polling tools: these enable you to quickly deploy polls to the audience, which help you to map out whether they understood the topic or not and where they might need more emphasis.
  • Mobile-friendly: live online video training should be accessible on mobile too. The most easy-to-use tools nowadays are fully responsive and HTML5-based, enabling learners to access them on just the browser.
  • Learning platform integration: in an ideal world, you’d want the video tool to be integrated to your learning platform (e.g. LMS) to enable automatic tracking of participation etc.

Final thoughts

Live online video training can become a great medium with just a little effort and investment. Like in any kind of learning, interactivity is a key factor. Also, it pays to make the best use of the tools available to you. If you are looking to upgrade your capabilities when it comes to this type of online learning, we’re happy to help. Feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.

Gamified Instructor-led Training – 4 Simple Ideas

Gamified Instructor-led Training Ideas

Gamified Instructor-led Training – 4 Simple ideas

We often see gamification as a tool to enhance online learning, but the potential doesn’t end there. In fact, we can use a lot of the same techniques and methods to engage learners in the classroom too. Whereas very basic gamification elements may be a bit dull, deeper and more advanced things can really take the face-to-face experience to the next level. To enable that, here are 4 simple ideas for gamified instructor-led training. Take a look!

Challenge your learners

Challenges are a great way of gamifying the learning experience. Instead of keeping the session one-sided, have the learners participate actively by prompting them with different tasks. This gets them to apply the things they’ve just learned, increasing learning retention. Challenges can also utilise elements of friendly competition, whether completed in teams or individually. This provides an added level of engagement and excitement.

The advantage of using this type of gamification in instructor-led training comes from the ease of use. Challenges can be set beforehand, reducing the time spent on administering them in the classroom. Similarly, the trainer will receive real time information of the participants’ performance.

Get out of the classroom for more activity

But gamified instructor-led training doesn’t have to stick to the boundaries of the classroom. Getting out of the classroom probably makes things even more active. One good example of that is activities in the form of scavenger hunts. The trainer can create a gameboard for the players to play on, which can be e.g. a live map or a static image of the office premises. Players can hunt down on clues on this map, while completing tasks and challenges as a team or individually. Furthermore, the trainer in charge can monitor each participant’s progress and provide real-time direction and feedback if necessary.

While methods like this tend to be more effective in getting subject matter across, thanks to their active nature, there are other benefits too. For instance, these activities tend to also be great team-building moments, if played as a team.

Real-time exercises

While we discussed different types of challenges, more simpler exercises are also a meaningful way of gamified instructor-led training. And doing that in real-time can be a lot of fun. For instance, trainers can use different tools to ask questions and push exercises, and display people’s answers in real time. This again helps to spark some friendly competition, especially if you’re keeping score.

However, real-time exercises are also helpful to the learners. Learners get instant feedback, and a sense of achievement and progress as they complete exercises correctly. Furthermore, they can monitor their own learning, also in comparison to other people. Thus, they’ll be able to notice early on if they are not keeping up.

Accelerated feedback cycles and instant rewards

Finally, while not a specific technique, it’s important to talk about the importance of rapid feedback. Like mentioned above, the accelerated feedback cycles that gamified instructor-led training tends to bring along benefit all parties involved. This can also improve the quality of feedback. As trainers push exercises through the participants’ mobile devices, they get all the information in real-time. Thus, the trainers are able to provide more to-the-point and personalised feedback.

While not monetary, this acts as instant rewards to the learners. Often the fact that one notices progress and keeps is able to overcome challenges is a good source of learning motivation on its own.

Final words

Overall, there’s a lot that you can do when it comes to gamifying the classroom experience. Gamified instructor-led training can ease the cognitive overload, activate the learners, increase engagement and motivate people to continue. While these are just a few methods that one can accomplish with several tools, they do provide a much needed toolbox update for trainers and learning designers. If you’re looking to gamify offline or online learning experiences, drop us a note. We are happy to share some experiences and insights in that space.

Virtual Classrooms in Workplace Learning – Do They Add Value?

Virtual Classroom in corporate learning

Virtual Classrooms in Workplace Learning – Do They Add Value?

As organisations have been digitalising learning and training, we’ve seen many opting for largely asynchronous methods. While self-paced learning can be a great value-add, it requires a certain degree of learning culture in the organisation. However, it’s unlikely that any organisation is able to cover all its training needs via these methods. Some topics do need active facilitation or down-right training. In such cases, organisations again face the challenge of scalability. Initially, companies employed webinars to solve this challenge, but conventional webinars have been challenging as a medium. However, as the technologies have matured and we’ve refined the methods, the concept of the virtual classroom has come about.

What’s a virtual classroom?

While the actual technical tools between corporate virtual classrooms and webinars or video conferences are rather similar, the difference comes from the methodological side. Conventionally, webinars for instance have been quite a passive and one-way medium, resembling a lecture delivered to a large audience. However, virtual classrooms are more collaborative in nature. They are designed to facilitate all the different levels of interactivity and are more learner-centric in nature. The instructor is not there just to go through content and provide a live voice track to a powerpoint, but rather to facilitate discussions and prompt the learners to engage in different ways.

In addition to just displaying content and video, these virtual sessions may be structured around different kinds of activities like user polling, discussion boards, group chats, sharing of user-generated content or smaller, private breakout sessions.

Different corporate use cases for the virtual classroom

Now, there are a lot of different use cases for these kinds of tools. Here are a few that we picked that might provide further value-add in corporate use.

Collaborative learning experiences

Often the real value of getting people together is in the possibility to collaborate. Thus, once you have that, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use the virtual face-to-face time for lecturing or going through content. Rather, a virtual classroom session is a good opportunity to do more collaborative learning activities. For instance, you can use the time for discussions and reflections to develop shared understanding of the topic in question. Hearing your peers’ reflections on a topic or the way they’ve executed it in practice can be very valuable. Furthermore, you could also extend such collaborative approach to solve real business issues through problem-based learning.

Expert-led sessions

It’s hard to get people in the same place at the same time, especially when the people are busy and sought after experts of their own field. However, a virtual classroom approach may give more opportunities for that. For instance, an expert panel discussion or a fireside chat would be quite convenient to organise in such format. On the other hand, the approach might be useful for e.g. senior leaders in a global organisation to communicate vision and strategy and open themselves for discussion and elaboration on such topics. While we don’t think that these can ever totally replace e.g. company town halls, for some uses they might be the conscious, smart option.

Virtual coaching

Coaching is arguably one of the most powerful modalities of learning. It’s intimate, it’s personal, it’s supportive. However, conventional coaching can be expensive and faces the same challenge as other face-to-face formats when it comes to scheduling. Again, virtual classroom could help to solve some of that. Coaches could engage both groups and individuals remotely and interchangeably. For instance, a coaching session could consist of the coach delivering general level advice to a group. Then, the session could break into 1-on-1 sessions to provide personalised advice and support. Digital tools can also help coaches in managing their students and their progress.

Final words

Overall, there’s probably still a lot of value in synchronous learning methods such as the virtual classroom. However, smart organisations should try to use that face-to-face time in meaningful manner, leveraging on the opportunities to collaborate rather than lecture. In global organisations, this can not only provide major cost savings, but also help to connect people and develop shared understanding across different cultures. If you’re looking to leverage virtual classrooms, or struggling to get your trainers to shift away from lectures, we may be able to help. Just contact us here.

How to Use Data to Support Face-to-face Training?

How to support face-to-face training with data?

How to Use Data to Support Face-to-face Training?

Organisational learning and development is becoming increasingly data-driven. This is fuelled by the need to demonstrate impact, be more effective and direct resources more efficiently. With the advent of new learning technologies and platforms – many of which come with built-in analytics capabilities – we are increasingly better equipped to measure all kinds of learning in a meaningful way. However, for the most part, the collection and especially the use of this data has been limited to only digital learning experiences. But there’s no reason to draw that kind of limitation. In fact, traditional face-to-face training could benefit greatly from having access to data and analytics. So, let’s explore how we could support face-to-face training with data!

Current challenges with face-to-face training

Face-to-face training has its fair share of challenges ahead. On one hand, it’s rather expensive, once you factor in all of the lost productivity and indirect costs. However, cost becomes less of an issue as long as you can demonstrate impact and value. And that’s perhaps a business challenge. The real learning challenges, on the other hand, are related to the delivery.

Overall, face-to-face learning is not particularly personalised. Trainers are often not aware of the existing knowledge of the participants, let alone their personal context: jobs, tasks, challenges, problems, difficulties, team dynamics etc. Hence, the training – especially in subject matter intensive topics – often results in a more or less one-size-fits-all type of approach: trainer goes through the slide deck, perhaps with a few participatory activities and some feedback at the end. Even if you’re an experienced trainer, it’s difficult to improvise and go off-course in the heat of the moment to pursue the emerging (personal) needs of the learners.

So, wouldn’t it be beneficial and make sense to put that information into good use and start to support face-to-face training with data? Yes it would. Here are two easy ways you can get a lot more out of your “classroom” sessions.

1. Determining existing knowledge and skill level with pre-work

One of the simplest things you can do to get more value out of your face-to-face training is to start using pre-work. Have your learners go through digital learning materials before coming to the session. Build in some seamless assessment and collect information in the form of user submissions and feedback. With good design and proper use of learning analytics, this already gives you a lot of valuable information.

As a trainer, you can then check e.g. what your learners already know and what they are having difficulties with. It probably doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time in the classroom on things they already know. Rather, you’re better off using the time on addressing problem areas, challenges and personal experiences that have come out during the pre-work. Or if you want to explore making things even more impactful, try an approach like flipped learning. In flipped learning, you use digital to deliver the knowledge while focusing the classroom time solely on discussions, practice and hands-on activities.

2. Using learning records history to understand the people you’re training

Another idea we could do better at is understanding the people we deal with. At their best, these records may provide a whole history of learning. As these digital platforms compile more and more data about our learning experiences, it would be beneficial to let the trainers access that as well. By understanding prior experiences, the trainer can create scaffolding – build on what the employees already know from before. This might be totally unrelated to the current topic too.

Furthermore, having access to a “HR” history of the employees might be beneficial too, especially in large organisations where the trainer doesn’t necessarily now the people personally. For instance, what are the attendees jobs? Where do they work? Where have they worked before? In what kind of roles? All the information like this brings additional data points to personalise the learning experience on. In some cases, you might even find that there’s a subject matter expert in the group. Or someone who has dealt in practice with the issues of the ongoing training. These could be assets you can leverage on, of which you wouldn’t perhaps even know about without the data.

Final thoughts

All in all, there’s a whole lot that data and analytics can offer to “traditional” training. The need for personalisation is real, and smart use of learning data helps to cater to that need. Of course, you can use data to support face-to-face training in many more ways, these are just two examples. For instance, post-session feedback is much more handy to do digitally. This feedback can then be used to improve future sessions on the same topic (or with the same participants).

If you feel you could do more with data and smart learning design, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help you design blended learning experiences that deliver impact and value.

Converting ILT to Digital Learning? Don’t Overlook These 3 Things

Converting ILT to Digital Learning

Converting ILT to Digital Learning? Don’t Overlook These 3 Things

As organisations are increasingly exploring the opportunities of digital learning, the transition process from face-to-face to online becomes an issue that needs to be managed. Thanks to increased efficiency and even efficacy, digital offers a lot that face-to-face. However, you should never blindly digitalise learning experiences without thinking it through. Online learning lends itself to some topics better than others. Furthermore, you should always try to augment learning experiences into workflow, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to that. Thus, the digitalisation process should be about finding ways to find meaningful ways of using technology to support learning. That being said, if you’ve gone through the consideration and notice there are instructor-led training (ILT) activities that should be transformed from classroom based to digital, there are a few things to consider. Here are 3 often overlooked considerations when it comes to converting ILT to digital learning.

1. You cannot afford to lose the social context of learning

A major thing that most people don’t seem to realise about converting ILT to digital learning is the social aspect. It’s not just the content or instruction that defined a classroom experience, but it’s the social interaction. People learn from each other, and there’s a lot of value in facilitating discussions and sharing outside of the immediate corporate-defined scope of instruction.

Thus, you should really look into ways of integrating collaborative activities and peer interactions into the digital learning experience. Nowadays, there are a number of good social learning platforms out there that get you quite far. But it’s also about building the content in a way that sparks spur-of-the-moment interactions, discussions and reflection.

2. Don’t forget the instructor either – self-paced is not always the best answer

The other element that many tend to cut right at the start of converting ILT to online learning is the instructor. While self-paced learning is on the rise, and much of workplace learning is experiential, everything shouldn’t be. While you can use gamification to keep your learners engaged, the instructor can still play a big role in that. Even with fully online learning experiences, you can still retain the instructor as a facilitator. The facilitator doesn’t necessarily deal with the content or “present” it in any way, but rather he’s there to spark those discussions and encourage interactions. Furthermore, the facilitator can really focus on helping to solve the individual’s learning challenges and provide learning support.

3. You shouldn’t cut corners and try to just reuse existing materials

Finally, you shouldn’t hope for quick wins by just uploading the existing materials to your online learning platform. When converting ILT to online learning, that simply doesn’t work. ILT materials are often presentations and documents. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that both of these are terrible formats of learning in a digital environment. First of all, the user experience is simply horrible and neither of them work on the mobile. Both require pinching, zooming and often display text sizes that are simply not viable for anything less than a desktop computer. Secondly, these traditional ILT content pieces don’t have any engagement once you remove the instructor. They are just words and pictures, and there’s really nothing interactive about them.

So, instead of trying to reuse your old pieces, you should completely redo the components. Modalities like videos, animations, simulations, games and even simple native text work much better.

By avoiding all these practices and focusing on redefining the learning experience as a whole, you’ll unlock the most value. If you want to deliver great learning experiences, there are no short-cuts or quick wins to be had when converting ILT to digital learning experiences. However, the time and resources will pay themselves back quickly!

If you feel you need help in managing your learning content transformation or creating a strategy for it, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

Digital Coaching – Finding Value-add in a Traditional Space

Digital coaching

Digital Coaching – Finding Value-add in a Traditional Space

The traditional industry of business- and executive coaching is slowly embarking on a journey of change. Digitalisation is taking on another line of profession and causing a stir. While a lot of coaches believe strongly in the power of face-to-face (and don’t get us wrong, we do too!), unfortunately many seem to have totally neglected the changes in the environment around them. While corporations are increasingly careful in evaluating the value-add their vendors provide, they’re also looking to coach more and more people. Taking these two factors – namely the need to demonstrate results and scale up while keeping the offering affordable – into consideration, there could be opportunities for digital approaches. Here are some value-add cases we see for digital coaching.

Digital helps coaches to focus on what matters

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way, shall we? Like a lot of other digital technology, digital tools can also help coaches to reduce non-productive activities. Even in coaching, there’s a fair bit of administrative work involved. Maintaining records, scheduling sessions and producing reports don’t seem exactly high-value to a coach. However, that work needs to be done also.

Digital coaching tools can help coaches keep records accurate, accessible and transparent. A lot of the administrative workflows can be automated, enabling the coach to spend more time with the clients. Furthermore, the ability to produce meaningful reports on all things with a single click is something that you cannot achieve with traditional means. Good, clear and reliable reporting on progress and development will help the coach to demonstrate value to the client.

Delivering better interactions through digital coaching

Interactivity is a key part to the coaching equation. Not only do the clients expect you to be there for them at all times, but it’s likely very difficult to drive behavioural change “from a distance”. Overall, there seems to be value in more frequent and less formal coaching interactions. Digital tools can help to lower the barriers and enable constant access. Constant interactions between the coach and the client also enable a shift of focus from scenarios to real-world problem solving. As a learning experience, the latter tends to be a lot more powerful. Furthermore, this type of digital coaching also provides a new learning on-demand medium. The clients can reach out for information at their point of need and that’s when they’re at their most receptive.

On the other hand, why even limit the power of interactions to the coach-client relationship? While individual coaching is perhaps the most effective form of it, that’s not to say there’s no power in a group. As adults we learn through experiences and reflection – both our own and those of others. Therefore, interacting with one’s peers within a coaching group can provide a great learning opportunity on its own. And to facilitate these kinds of digital information exchanges and interactions today, there are simply no better tools than digital platforms.

Digital coaching provides an improved experience

In the end, it all really comes down to the coaching experience. Digital technologies have the power to facilitate that experience in a way that traditional approaches cannot. Also, the focus should be on the experience, rather than on producing a cheap version of something. Ultimately, there should be value-add to find for everyone, whether one’s coaching e.g. senior executives or sales agents. A simultaneous improvement in scalability, accessibility and user experience sounds like something the corporate clients might appreciate.

Of course, the opportunities don’t end there. While you’re at it, why not consider combining learning activities with group- and personalised coaching. Providing the clients with resources to support behavioural change after formal learning activities (think of performance support) is a potential high value-add area in terms of learning results. So, take a good look at your own offering and start considering whether you could deliver more value by adding some digital means to the mix.

If you’re looking to explore digital opportunities in coaching, ILT or learning overall, we can help you develop a great offering. Just contact us to get started.

How to Support Classroom Training with Digital Tools?

How to support classroom training with digital tools

Using Digital Tools to Support Classroom Training

While digital learning has been growing and improving in quality steadily over the last several decades, classroom training still constitutes the majority of activities for many organisations. While digital learning will capture more and more market share due to the low efficacy and efficiency of classroom training, it’s certainly not going to replace all of it. For some topics, face-to-face is likely to remain the primary mode of instruction for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support those activities with digital tools. Here are some examples of digital tools to support classroom training.

To make it easier, let’s divide training activities into three based on their sequence: pre-session, in-session and post-session.

Using digital tools for pre-work and activities before classroom training

One of the problem with traditional classroom training is that participants come in unprepared. Furthermore, the trainer often doesn’t know them, their learning history or performance beforehand. This results in lower engagement, lack of personalization and decreased relevance. But proper use of digital tools before the training session can help trainers to make the sessions as effective as possible.

For instance, a good practice is to do some pre-work activities online before the actual session. While not necessarily significant, they help the learners to prepare for the upcoming and adjust mentally. They’ll also be able to think about the topic beforehand and come in with questions and ideas. To collect ideas, expectations and perform more in-depth needs analysis, you can also use digital tools. For instance, online surveys, digital feedback tools and social platforms are a great way of engaging the learners before the session.

What should be the goal of pre-work activities?

Overall, the goal of pre-session activities should be to understand as much about the learner as possible and engage them beforehand. This enables the trainer to provide a much more tailored training experience. Organisations who already utilise learning data to support their decision making should also make the insights available to trainers.

How to use digital tools inside the classroom?

Once inside the classroom, it’s important to use the time for active learning instead of just delivering information. Luckily, there are a multitude of different digital tools to support classroom training activities and to activate the learners. For the purpose of this piece, we are gonna leave powerpoint and other similar presentation software out.

To start out, live polling is a good way to engage people. By asking questions from the audience through their digital devices, there’s less pressure to speak up. Rather, learners can send in their thoughts through their phones – even anonymously if required. The results and input can then be displayed to the group in the form of e.g. automatically generated graphs or word clouds. This provides the learners the ability to understand others’ perceptions of the topic, without the need for extensive classroom discussion, which may be difficult in some cultures.

In addition, you can use digital tools and methods for on-the-spot assessment as well. They are also effective in collecting live feedback and potentially even in doing peer evaluation. While these are some of the more concrete tools, you can also use a variety of digital media. Short training videos, puzzles and small games can be equally good in activating the audience.

How to use digital tools after classroom training?

The challenge with corporate learning is that it’s often too transactional, due to lack of resources and commitment. You can have a great trainer deliver a truly engaging session, but still the forgetting curve is not on your side. Usually, there’s very little follow-up and statistically, you’ll still forget most of the things discussed. To support learning retention and help those experiences carry over to long-term memory, digital tools come in handy.

In addition to the traditional assessment, which is most efficient to do online, you should also provide learning reinforcements. A spaced learning approach, in which the learners are exposed to small bits of content over a period of time to activate their memory tends to work quite well. Different microlearning activities also tend to lend themselves quite well for this type of use. And finally, like in any learning activity, it’s important to keep collecting the feedback for continuous improvement.

Overall, it’s highly beneficial to support classroom training with digital tools. You’ll not only understand your learners better, but you can also improve learning results thanks to the increased engagement. So give it a try!

Do you need help in building the right kind of digital support resources for your classroom training? Our articles on flipped learning and blended learning can provide additional ideas. If you’d like more hands-on assistance, feel free to contact us and we can develop an approach with you.

Corporate Learning Webinars – Are They Still “In”?

Corporate learning webinars - are they still in?

Corporate Learning Webinars – Are They Still “In”?

When the technology for live video streaming first took off, we saw webinars emerge as a concept. For learning, webinars were the first attempts to mimic face-to-face training in a digital environment. Ever since then, we’ve witnessed and incredible surge in popularity of video as learning content. But where does that leave us? Is there still a place for corporate learning webinars?

The problems with corporate learning webinars

Webinars are no longer the technological breakthrough they were back in the day. With the surge in content delivery technologies throughout the spectrum, we’ve become to notice a few problems with webinars.

The quality of video, and especially audio, are the first noticeable problem. With the advent of ever-better cameras and studio tools, we’ve grown accustomed to high quality videos, especially with long-form content. While we can utilise some of that tech for webinars, the challenge is the live aspect. For instance, the audio tracks are not edited (since it’s live!) and can thus become quite painful to listen, especially if the presenter’s microphone is not properly placed.

When it comes to corporate learning webinars, engagement is also a problem. Yes, the learners might be logged in to the session, but they space off just as easily. Overall, webinars are still quite a passive medium of engagement, where there’s limited interaction from the participants. As the learners are not interacting, they’re not retaining as much either. Furthermore, the benefit of instructor-led training should be the ability to interact with the trainer and fellow trainees; to ask questions and share opinions. That benefit doesn’t often realise in corporate learning webinars.

Solutions to the problems

Naturally, developments on technological fronts have, and continue to, enable us to solve some of these problems. Microphone technologies are becoming better and better, helping to filter out background noises and unwanted extras. Cameras have also improved tremendously, and many of them even have integrated live streaming capabilities.

While there has been progress with the hardware, the major developments have happened on the software side. First of all, webinar tools have become much more user friendly. Secondly, they have introduced a lot of possibilities for interactivity: live polls, live quizzes, chat rooms, whiteboards, document sharing and engagement monitoring are just a few examples. These have enabled us to bring the needed three levels of learning interactivity into the webinars. Thus, the audience is no longer a passive listener, but rather an active participant. For learning purposes, that makes a whole world of difference.

Should you still use corporate learning webinars? Is there a future?

Learning webinars may have that slightly outdated connotation. But if they work for you, there’s no reason to stop using them. However, do keep in mind some of the problems with webinars, and engage with your users (learners) to find out how they see your offering. If your webinars lack interactivity, you might consider delivering through some of the newer technologies on the market (we are happy to provide recommendations).

In the future, webinars will be challenged by the rise of other technologies suitable for instructor-led training, such as augmented reality. However, webinars will continue to provide the required scalability for the time these technologies are still developing. In terms of digital instructor-led training, live video is not the only solution though. Many organisations are trying out things such as instructor-led facilitation in online environments – with good results!

If you’d like recommendations for good webinar tools or help with refining your approach to digital ILT, we can help you. Just contact us to set up a meeting – even a virtual one!

Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

Omnichannel learning experiences - unified and seamless

Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

The concept of omnichannel comes from the retail sector, where retailers are striving to provide a seamless, unified and personalised shopping experience across different channels, such as online, mobile and physical stores. Organisations who fail to utilise some of the individual channels or integrate them seamlessly seem to be struggling in business because of low customer engagement. While omnichannel is not much of a buzzword in the learning and development space, we should adopt the same ideology. After all, learning engagement as well as tracking learning across different channels is a challenge for many organisations. Here’s how we could move towards an omnichannel learning approach to tackle these problems.

Omnichannel learning starts with cross-platform functionality

We live in the era of learning apps. For almost every need, there’s an app. On top of that, you have your corporate LXP (or LMS) systems, learning portals, intranets and co-working platforms. The problem is that often these systems are don’t communicate very well with each other. Your learner may complete a learning activity in a dedicated application, but doesn’t in any way reflect in the content that e.g. your LMS might push to him/her. Running multiple platforms easily results in an incredible amount of duplicate work and activities. Furthermore, it tends to hide information in silos and the confines of the platform.

The aim of successful omnichannel learning is to abolish the boundaries of individual platforms. While running a single learning platform for all the learning needs would be ideal from a systems management standpoint, it’s often a non-feasible reality. Hence, when you’re looking at “yet another app” to solve your learning challenges, you should pay attention to the interoperability possibilities with your existing infrastructure. An important aspect of that is the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) the systems can use to fetch and receive information from each other.

Omnichannel learning should aim for a unified user experience

Another omnichannel feature that may be equally challenging to create is a unified user experience across platforms. If we use a retail analogy, the aim is not only for the mobile app to match the design of the responsive website/web application, but the physical environment (the retail stores) to match it as well. A seamless transition between online and offline will be key to deliver a great user experience and sustain engagement. Interestingly, the online to offline is a particular challenge in learning as well (more on that later).

This area of omnichannel learning is the one where running multiple platforms usually kills the game. However, with a bit of effort on visual- and functional design, we can do quite a lot. Naturally, visual design, colour schemes etc. should match across platforms, as it is a low effort – high return type of situation. In terms of functionality, you’re better off if your applications follow similar logic in terms of accessing and consuming learning. Furthermore, you shouldn’t unreasonably restrict functionalities on mobile platforms, otherwise you may lose a lot of engagement.

How do we collect uniform learning data from all the different channels – even offline?

To, first of all, understand and further develop omnichannel learning experiences, we need comprehensive learning data. As we want to eliminate unnecessary overlaps in delivery, we need to grasp how the different channels work together. While each app or learning tool may very well have its own analytics, they don’t necessarily help the bigger picture. Furthermore, a major challenge is bringing offline (face-to-face) into the mix and collecting data from them. Thus, we need a unified framework of recording all different learning activities, whether mobile, online or classroom-based.

Luckily, we already have the technological answer for the problem – The Experience API (xAPI). The xAPI specification enables us to track and collect uniform data from all learning activities, even offline and pass them onto a single locker of data for analysis. It helps not only in learning analytics, but also enables better understanding of content engagement and learner-centric design.

What about content development for omnichannel?

Finally, content development is an important topic in an omnichannel approach to learning. Naturally, all digital content should be fully responsive, so it can be accessed via a browser on all devices and wrapped into mobile applications for native use. Interoperability and accessibility is imperative, as the concept of omnichannel expands the “mobile learning paradigm” of “anytime, anywhere” to “any content, anytime, anywhere”.

Integrating this mode of operation to offline activities is again the biggest challenge. The approach requires a degree of flexibility from the trainers, coaches and mentors. They need to adapt their classroom content to form a natural continuum to the prior (digital) learning experiences. But thanks to xAPI and learning analytics, they nowadays have the power to understand each learner on a very individual level.

Are you delivering seamless and unified learning experiences across different channels? If you want to move away from siloed learning approaches, we can help. Our advisory services cover both technology implementations and strategic learning consulting. Just contact us.