Have you been struggling to transition your face-to-face workshops into a virtual training platform? You might not be alone, many of us are still figuring out the best practices to conduct online training and workshops.
Thousands of universities, colleges, schools and training organisations across the world have been forced to adopt digital learning tools. This is especially hard for small and medium training companies who do not have the resources and expertise possessed by the large government agencies, universities and enterprises.
It has been overwhelming for SMBs to suddenly transform their existing face-to-face training workshops and programs into a complete digital package, and restructure their business. Having spoken with multiple medium-sized training businesses, it is clear that the key challenge faced by them is figuring out how to convert face-to-face workshops into a digital learning experience.
Below are the top 10 practical tips to get you started in your digital transformation journey.
#1 Transition to virtual training in phases
Firstly, do not hurry and try to bring everything online. It is not possible to transform all your physical training modules into online programs. Just like how distributing a radio program on television networks doesn’t make a good TV program, both physical and online mediums have their own strengths and weaknesses.
You need to think about your workshops from an entirely new perspective and build a new foundation, but not all at once.
Look at your current workshops and group them in terms of their value and priority. List down the key outcomes your learners get from each of your programs. Then start thinking about how you can deliver the same outcome using digital tools. Maybe not all the elements of the physical workshop are required in online programs. You might discover new ways to deliver value using digital tools.
Remember, it is not about converting workshops into online programs, instead, it is about delivering the same value using digital tools.
#2 Don’t convert physical workshops into an hour-long video conference
In the race to get there first or cash into the trend of digital transformation, many are simply hosting long video conferences that are exhausting both to the facilitators and the learners. Don’t do that.
Video conferencing can quickly turn into a nightmare if it is not tied to the learning outcomes. Long sessions in Zoom, Skype, Gotomeeting or any video conferencing tools can trap people into a digital space making it difficult for learners to focus. Looking at the boxes of people on your monitor screen (or your own face) is not a natural way to engage with people.
Therefore, do not depend solely on live video conferences to deliver your online workshops. There are better ways to do this. When the lockdown started across the world, many companies who had never done online conferences, suddenly found themselves engaged in long exhausting online sessions resulting in a loss in productivity.
#3 Break down workshops into mini-modules
Face-to-face workshops are typically divided into hours, days, weeks and months. Then each time slots are dedicated to topics and consists of:
- Q&A and so on.
Many training companies who are currently transitioning to online are setting up virtual events at particular dates where learners can participate. In a way, they are mirroring the physical events but this method can put constraints to your virtual training programs.
The best way to transition this to an online training module is by creating multiple modules for each learning outcome. So rather than saying: “I have a 4-day workshop”, start saying: “I have 10 learning modules”. This shift in thinking allows you to break the physical workshop patterns and adopt digital learning methods.
#4 Choose a suitable digital learning platform for the purpose
Digital learning tools are the foundation for building virtual training but don’t start stacking one tool after another and complicating your virtual programs. You need to keep your systems simple.
There are many learning management tools available in the market but not all are the same and might not fit your purpose. Some are designed to cater to larger enterprises and universities that can be expensive and difficult to set-up. Some are free to use but can only do so much. You need to start educating yourself about learning management software available in the market and start building your own requirement sheets.
Once you know what is possible and what you can expect from online digital tools, you can then make an effective decision to choose one for yourself.
#5 Prepare your audience beforehand
Digital is a new norm, but we all are still learning our ways into it.
Therefore, you need to prepare your audience beforehand and provide guidance so that you can effectively transition from face-to-face to virtual training.
The easiest way to do this is by creating a short video where you can explain various aspects of your virtual training program. This video will then act as introductory information for anyone who is interested in your virtual programs.
Things you can talk about your virtual training:
- What are the learning outcomes of your program
- What are the tools used to conduct the program
- What software should the learners install in their system
- A quick guide for your learners on how to get started
- Talk about your learning modules and learning path
#6 Create short online courses for your audience
Online courses are mushrooming everywhere and are available almost on every topic you can think of. Selling and buying online courses have disrupted the education sector and made it more accessible and affordable.
There are so many benefits of online courses that it needs a separate blog post on its own. An online course is a vital part of your virtual training program. It allows you to divide your entire training program into various self-learning modules. If you choose the right learning management platform, you can deliver high-value content through your online courses.
#7 Gamify your modules using Quizzes and Certifications
This is by far the most interesting part of taking your workshops online. You can use digital technologies like gamification to enhance the learning experience of your virtual training.
Gamification incites users to participate in the learning process. Things like quizzes, certificates and badges provide extra incentives for learners. These are not common in face-to-face training, but in online learning, it is super easy to deliver high engagement using these methods.
#8 Build a closed group for your participants
The real-time engagement and live video calls are not always an effective way to deliver virtual training. Asynchronous communication is a more preferred method which allows learners to consume and respond on their own time.
Chat groups and discussion forums are great ways to engage with other participants and trainers. Chat rooms are in many ways the origin of internet communities and they are definitely making their comeback.
For every workshop, create a private group which is open only for participants. This will provide an effective way for your members to discuss your learning materials and virtual conferences. This will also provide a better way for your members to learn about each other and be prepared with relevant questions during the real-time conference.
#9 Don’t forget about a one-on-one session
Yes, one-on-one sessions are still relevant and important. Group discussions, self-paced courses, online meetings are great, but it is not enough.
Hence, you should provide a way for your participants to have a one-on-one online face-to-face session with you. It allows learners to validate their learnings and clear their doubts and gain more from your virtual training.
A one-on-one session allows learners, who are new to the method, gain more confidence in the learning process.
#10 Take feedback and iterate your training modules
Finally, don’t settle on your first design. We all are finding the best way to adapt to the change and no one way is right for everyone. You need to iterate your methods and the best way is to take direct feedback from your participants and find a way to improve on it.