Virtual classroom session structure

A lot of us know about how to plan, design and deliver a face to face training session. But what about a virtual classroom session?

Here’s a quick overview that might give you some ideas:

  1. Always teach the basic tools people need to interact, one at a time, as you need them. Usually this is emoticons (tick and cross as the basic way to communicate) and chat. Make sure you use them immediately so people can see them in action!
  2. Get people involved straight away – ask them some thing about the topic and so that you can start the journey of getting to know them. Make it quick, easy and make sure you respond to what they say and adjust as you go to make this more appropriate to the group.
  3. In your virtual classroom session some people will be nervous of using the audio to speak. Also, you need to encourage this communication so that people get used to it and more comfortable when you ask them questions later so that you aren’t faced with silence. It could be just a few people, or everyone for a very short time just so that they’ve had experience of un-muting and muting.
  4. All of your design and delivery should be concentrating on your audience, their needs and their involvement. It’s all about getting them doing appropriate activities around the topic areas that they need to perform in.
  5. If you have a host, producer or co-facilitator with you, get them involved too. Another voice in the session is good, they can explain different parts of the technology or activity to give you a moment to check your notes, have a drink or think about what is going on.
  6. If you are speaking for more than a few minutes on a topic, you are lecturing your audience and they are potentially switching off. Make sure to avoid this by designing plenty of interactive elements into your delivery. This way you get feedback from your attendees and know they are with you, what they understand and get a sense of their digital body language. What are you saying to them, that they could be doing an activity on?
  7. A lot of people see “Death by PowerPoint” and want to reduce the number of slides in their presentations. What people should really concentrate on is reducing the content – the slides aren’t the problem. In the virtual classroom you need more slides and changing them more often as people don’t have each other and the facilitator to look at. Therefore really good visual and user design in your slides are important here.
  8. Make sure you have questions and interactivity throughout, but also time at the end. If you are recording your session, make sure you are available after you finish the recording for further questions. I always allow at least 15 minutes after the session for conversations outside of the official finish time.
  9. Give people links, email addresses and details of more learning, performance support tools, a community for social learning and people that can help them apply what they are doing.

This is a quick overview – what do you do?

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