Virtual classrooms: is this the solution to your skills shortage problem?

18 months ago we had the idea for a virtual classroom continuous professional development series. The decisions that shaped our thoughts around the series centred on what we were hearing from our clients and the community. We are launching this new subscription service soon and want to hear about you or your team’s development needs by completing our survey.

In this blog we are going to look at the biggest issues that individuals and teams tell us they have. Do your team have these issues? See if our CPD series could be the answer for the virtual classroom skills development you need.

“I need more practice”

This is the most common thing we hear from people when they are dealing with virtual classrooms. Being able to actually practice your session or parts of it, such as a specific activity, can be hugely beneficial, more so if you have feedback from trusted sources.

We always recommend practising parts of your session with colleagues so that you can get their take on your delivery, adjust and practice again taking the feedback on board.

When following up with people though they often say they have not rehearsed a session and just gone straight into delivery. Perhaps there wasn’t enough time to get a colleague to work with them or the quality of the feedback wasn’t constructive and helpful.

This is one of the first stumbling blocks we are going to tackle with our CPD sessions. We will provide skills, discussion and practical elements within each session. We know our remit must include the opportunity for attendees to take the reigns and practice live with feedback from us and other CPD members. We want to create a guaranteed space where nobody is judged, everyone is in a similar situation and feedback is trusted.

“I need more confidence”

We hear about confidence nearly as much as needing practice. People are often nervous in what they are delivering in the live virtual environment and this comes across to attendees and in their session feedback.

Confidence is an incredibly hard thing to gain or gift. We know practice will help, but confidence is something only gained through continuous hard work and an eventual belief and realisation in your own skills. How can we provide the gift of confidence?

Our solution for confidence within the CPD idea has evolved in a few different ways.:

  1. We are going to run monthly webinar sessions for our CPD members. The practical elements, feedback from us and other members can help in a number of ways: alleviate concerns; build skills over time; reaffirm those skills with retention; and thus gain precious confidence.
  2. We realise that it’s not just feedback from us in the sessions, but feedback from like-minded attendees is a source of amazing help and positive confidence building. We already have an open, free community www.Lightbulbmoment.community but we decided we needed more: a private area on our community platform just for CPD members. This is a safe place where people continue the discussion from the live session, ask more questions from us and each other, getting answers to doubts between sessions and again building their confidence.

“I need to understand the technology more”

Using the basic tools in most virtual classroom software can be picked up relatively easily. The more complex options within the virtual classroom takes time, practice and understanding. A good example is breakout rooms – simple in their concept of getting people together to discuss or work on an activity, but the software platforms all have their own nuances of how to set them up, run them and what you and attendees can do within them. They range from easy to complex and can have far reaching affects on the activity outcome, flow of a session and the confidence of the facilitator.

Lots of people know the software they use can do more that they use it for. Finding the time to know what the platform can do, but also then stopping and thinking how that can be applied to your session is a process in itself. People often ask us how to use a specific tool, and in some cases, if that tool even exists in the platform they are using.

We know we are going to provide learning in our monthly webinar sessions. The focus is on open discussion, practice and feedback. But more than that we also want to open minds to different possibilities, for people to take away additional skills for design and delivery and most importantly, a positive attitude.

Combining hands-on practice with new tools is a perfect fit. Highlighting tools, discussions around them, different ways they can be utilised and then providing the opportunity for attendees to use them and get feedback from each other seems to be the perfect social learning opportunity.

“There is too much to understand”

A lot of people find virtual classrooms daunting. This is especially true where facilitators or trainers have had a long history of traditional face to face delivery. The technology side of how it works, the tools within the system or simply updating your delivery mind-set to get the most out of the virtual environment can seem like a huge task to overcome. Couple this with the challenge of not being able to physically see attendees and the feeling that you can’t read the body language or feed off the energy of a group, whilst mistaken, is utterly understandable.

Knowing we are delivering monthly practical sessions, a private community area for further discussion and feedback afterwards is a good step. But we still want more. We want to provide helpful information but not induce an overload in our CPD members.

Providing specific content and resources for each CPD session, along with a private podcast, is our solution. We will provide short, specific materials based on what happened in the session, information for members to utilise, discuss and reflect back on. A podcast discussion after each session to affirm or dissect specific elements, delve deeper into aspects of the session that were more complicated and provide an additional format to process and retain the information from the sessions. And all of this with lively CPD community discussions too.

Our development solution

We are launching our virtual classroom CPD series later this year (2018). To get more detail to add to the outline above, we have a survey for you or your colleagues to tell us more about what would make this a valuable development opportunity for you to subscribe to. As a thank you for sharing some thoughts with us, we are offering a launch discount if you want it.

Let us know your thoughts, please share with your network and we hope to see you on a CPD session soon!

Complete our survey for a pre-launch discount!

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