Charles and Matt seem to have discovered a huge demand for synchronous learning in the course of their consulting work in the elearning space. So let's see who's attending this webinar:
- 17% Trainers
- 11% Learning Designers
- 20% L&D Manager
- 19% E-learning Professional
- 17% Other
So what is the difference between a webinar and a live online training course?
There are some subtle differences and here are some of them:
- Online training sessions are a bit more formal and have some well defined outcomes.
- They tend to be more action-oriented in their approach
- They have objectives and motivations which are consistent across the trainers and the students.
Online training is starting to be a good supplement to classroom and elearning activities. The benefits are quite obvious - costs, the lower carbon footprint, the ability to actually do it without any huge constraints. We need to look beyond just those benefits though - we can have lots of people in the training, we can all talk together, we can walk out without offending people and most importantly, its an nice way to bring geographical diversity to your classroom. So it's a little more than just a virtual classroom.
That said, there's no opportunity for body language, eye-contact and then again there's a myriad of distractions available to us -- for example I'm live blogging at this moment.
It looks like everyone's been involved with online training in some way or the other. So let's hear some of Matt and Charles' tips for online training.
As you may already know, there are several options for online training tools. There's DimDim, Live Meeting, Webex, GoToMeeting, Lotus Live Meetings, Cisco Webex and Adobe Connect. If you're still deciding, here are a few things to consider:
- Bandwidth - does your organisation have enough bandwidth on the network to run this kind of thing?
- Storage - where will you save most of your data, recordings, etc?
- Risk - how secure is the service and how open or closed is the option you're using?
- Integration - are you using it with your LMS or other systems?
- Costs - how cheap or costly is your implementation going to be? How much staff time are you going to need?
People, as we've already discussed have a myriad of distractions in their life. People are people and if they want to multi-task, they will! When you don't get eye-contact, it's a gigantic difference. If you're multi-tasking then you're perhaps going to be a good online training that's because you already know what your audience will do.
So, what you don't want is someone reading a script. What you don't want is someone reading script. What you do want is someone bringing in a bit of a personality. Voice is crucial to the success of an online training session. Using a headset helps and perhaps a directional mike maybe? Trainers need to be hugely expressive online - remember people can't see you; so make peace with that and do what you can to overcome that hurdle. As human as you can sound, the better for you!
So let's see what kind of subjects work well in this medium.I've now completely lost visuals- damn! So I'll just go with what I hear.
Seems like soft skills are a good area to discuss online. Bringing in experts and to keep it short and simple is a good idea as well. Learning from suggestions that others make is a great way to influence behaviour. The more you can involve people, the better - 90% of the talking should be from the participants. Teach people how to use the tool and how to use the chat box. Just as Don does for the LSG webinars, it does helps a lot to get people used to the environment. This is the equivalent of getting people used to a training environment. Also, get people's views by using polls as an activity. This is the equivalent of how we do polls (show of hands) in a classroom.
Don't overdo the poll though, but beware the meaningless poll - they can break up the momentum of the session. So use polls where you expect a distinct set of answers, but if things are just obvious, don't just do it for the sake of doing it.
- Ask people what they'll commit to do once they've been through the session.
- What's going to stop them from doing what they'd like to do.
- Discuss these hopes and concerns with participants.
- Don't be ambitious - it's not about what you want to do to look cool. It's also about managing change and getting people comfortable with the medium.
- Roland from Live Time has a tip - the technology is there, but don't go overboard!
- The voice of just one person gets boring after a while, so vary it by bringing in audio, video, etc.
- Don't get flustered if things go wrong - remembers Murphy's law.
- Be flexible - something that works in one session, will not necessarily work in the next. The dynamics of people are extremely crucial to keep in mind.
- Online training takes time. To make something, simple, short without the benefit of physical presence and the interactivity that people expect, is always tough. So try getting as much of this work done up front and make sure you prepare well!