While offering virtual training for remote learners is the need of the hour, it will not be successful unless L&D teams adopt certain tips and strategies to engage them.
Triggered by the work-from-home mode on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Learning & Development (L&D) teams are looking for ways to move their classroom or ILT (instructor-led training) sessions to virtual training programmes. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace dynamics, and we are now witnessing the “new normal” of remote operations.
By extension, it clearly heralds the need for L&D teams to have a clear strategy regarding their virtual training programme transformation and it involves the following:
• Plan a step-by-step transition of classroom/ILT sessions to the online mode. This journey could feature:
1. ILT to Virtual ILT (V-ILT). This would map to:
- Synchronous connections or live sessions.
- Asynchronous connections via online access to V-ILT recordings and supporting collateral (prep material and handouts).
2. ILT to self-paced or fully online mode.
3. ILT to an optimal blended mode that offers V-ILT with a self-paced or fully online mode.
• Devise strategies that will engage remote learners in each mode.
• Draw up a sustainable action plan that not only covers the transition but also has crucial measures to ascertain:
1. The effectiveness of the training in the new mode.
2. The training impact.
3. The demonstrable value for learners and businesses, matching or exceeding what was being met in the classroom/ILT mode.
• Given the scale of the pandemic, with no predictions about when this will end, there is an underlying anxiety that each one of us, including remote learners, is going through. So, it is difficult to have them fully engaged in virtual training.
• Each day new variables will be encountered and the fact that businesses react and respond to them impacts remote learners. While they are aligning with the changing dynamics—with different degrees of success—it is difficult for them to retain the focus on virtual training.
• Several organisations made a quick transition from ILT sessions to a 100% V-ILT mode. This call was made to ensure a timely rollout of the planned, essential training. However, in the process, the adequate analysis of the new medium (V-ILT delivery platform) which could have helped achieve the required degree of learner participation and engagement was not done. What they are seeing is that long-drawn V-ILT sessions do not hold the attention of remote learners.
So, while offering virtual training for remote learners is the need of the hour, it will not be successful unless L&D teams adopt certain tips and strategies to engage them. In the process, they must map the current training to the appropriate virtual training mode (V-ILT/blended/fully online) that will provide the required impact and accomplish the learning objectives.
Here are some tips and strategies you can use to make your virtual training programmes more engaging for remote learners:
1. Create manageable milestones
First thing to remember is that a 7-hour-long ILT session cannot be mapped to a 7-hour-long V-ILT session. The remote learners' attention can be caught only when the V-ILT programme is divided into shorter and manageable chunks. Look for the right option as you remap the ILT to V-ILT as:
a. A series of sessions with each session not exceeding 60-75 minutes.
b. Include live sessions, breakout sessions and activities, regrouping, and interactions with peers/facilitators. This would help in matching the flow and create the impact of the session.
2. Highlight the value of virtual training
Prior to the virtual training rollout, invest in short nuggets (microlearning videos/infographics or even simple newsletters) that showcase the value of virtual training for remote learners. Once they are in sync, you will see a more engaged audience.
3. Ensure learner interaction
If you opt for moving the entire classroom/ILT to a VILT mode, assess the features available in the delivery platform first. Remap the existing classroom interactions to the new medium. For instance:
a. Most of the platforms offer interactions like polling questions and chats.
b. Provide breakout sessions and exercises.
c. Create a learning journey by structuring multiple virtual sessions and have interjections of supporting materials.
d. If the VILT session delivery is integrated into your LMS, you can also add interactive quizzes to suitable junctures that can be tracked.
4. Reward learners
Reward your remote learners with a certificate which will act as an incentive and a great motivator for the remote learners to complete the current training and even look out for more virtual training in the future.
5. Encourage social learning
Encourage the remote learners to collaborate by providing them the platform to discuss and collaborate. This can be done using chats, discussion boards, breakout rooms, and peer-to-peer feedback.