12 Ways To Make Online Training Delivery A Success [Q&A]
As a trusted partner of hundreds of training providers globally, over the past few weeks we’ve received a number of questions from training professionals trying to make sense of the virtual learning landscape, and how they can maximise their impact during COVID-19. In particular, we've been inundated with questions on making a success of making the switch to online training delivery, and we’re dedicated to answering every last one of them!
In this blog, we've rounded up 12 of the most popular questions we've been asked by training professionals in relation to setting up, delivering and marketing their online courses. Answers are provided by experts in the industry including London School Online, First Intuition, Sales Geek and us here at accessplanit!
From set up to planning, marketing, tech and delivery, use these 12 insights to help you create an incredible online training offering.
Here’s our 12 most popular questions, answered.
- How do we get less tech-savvy trainers onboard with technology?
- What is the best virtual platform for online delivery?
- How long does it take to move to online courses?
- What should learners do between sessions?
- How do you keep learners engaged?
- How do we go about surveys and assessments?
- Should we be charging the same for online courses as face to face?
- What is the number one sales activity to reactivate your business?
- How do we display media during a virtual session?
- How do breakout sessions work within a virtual classroom?
- Can we still do role-play in virtual sessions?
- Since online training depends on technology, do you go through any checks?
Online Learning Set Up
1. How do we get less tech-savvy trainers onboard with technology??
This is perhaps the biggest hurdle for training providers to overcome whilst in the initial stages of transitioning online. If your trainers are already au-fait with online delivery and virtual classrooms, it certainly helps you get off to a good start. There’re 4 main things to consider when introducing a new tech solution:
- Test knowledge – Accept that knowledge and experience is going to vary massively across the team. In order to ensure no one is either out of their depth or patronised, you need to assess prior knowledge!
- Communicate – You need buy-in from those that are going to be using it most frequently. This means keeping them in the loop, checking in and offering support as needed. If training is required, prioritise it!
- Set expectations – You need to set the standards of what you expect from the trainer. Things like a faulty or muffled mic, background noise or no webcam is setting yourselves up to fail.
- Practice – A dry run is the best way to iron out any creases before your training goes live! Perfect way to give the trainers a bit of confidence, too!
Related Resource: Training Provider, First Intuition shares their trainer prep tips including checklists, responsibilities and troubleshooting guides.
2. What is the best virtual platform for online delivery?
This is a question we covered in our first webinar, with Andy Johnson at London School Online. Unfortunately, from this discussion and from surveying the wider industry, it’s largely inconclusive.
Some of the most popular include Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and Adobe Connect. Our experience suggests there’s a great deal of overlap across them all, and your decision should be based on what’s important to your business and your budget. Some core things that you want to make sure you can do is share participants screens, allow for enough learners to be able to join and have access to a recording after the session!
Related resource: Best Webinar Software For Online Training Delivery
3. How long does it take to move to online courses?
There are a number of things that will determine the speed at which you can transition online, including but not limited to:
- Learners and trainers tech-savviness
- How easy it is to deliver your training offering online
- The technology you have to support the transition
It's common for training providers to have a fear and reluctance of transitioning online. However, many have found it’s really not been that big of an issue. Ultimately, you should be changing as little as possible from your in-person session in terms of delivery. If you have automated technology within your business, that can aid the process – sending out learning materials, pre- and post work, joining instructions and online feedback forms.
Tip: Consider running shorter sessions, but more regularly. Not only will this aid delegate attention and avoid cognitive backlog, but it will also make it much quicker to move online as less material and preparation is required. Less daunting for your trainer, too!
Delivery & Learner experience
4. What should learners do between sessions?
A brilliant question.
This is where a blended learning approach really comes into its own, and precisely why it has been the buzzword of the training world over the past year.
It is far easier to run an instructor led web session, than it is to build a comprehensive catalogue of self-serve eLearning content. It’s about being practical with what tools you have at your disposal.
Jonathan at Sales Geek suggests it’s not necessarily the content in between that’s most important, rather having regular touch points. Whether that is suggested reading, 1 to 1 sessions or bitesize videos. At the very least, a personalised email to check in should be expected.
Tip: You could use 1 to 1 sessions as a value-add to your service. Something that’s impractical to ask of your learner with face to face offerings, is actually well suited to online delivery. Perfect chance to offer something your competitors aren’t!
5. How do you keep learners engaged?
It is probably not surprising to hear, maintaining the focus and building rapport with your learners online is more challenging than in-person. There’s a number of things you can do though to give yourself the best chance of engagement, including:
- Considering the length of the session – from our experience, online training should be around the 45 minute mark. Of course, there isn’t a one size fits all, but it’s safe to say your full day in-person course can not be a full day online course. If it does lend itself to being longer, consider regular breaks, or split it into 4 bitesize sessions instead.
- Set expectations – You don’t want technology causing disruptions. Learners need to know if they need a webcam, and ensure they test their microphone. Technical hitches are a sure-fire way to encourage learners to drift off!
- Collect feedback - More so than ever, if you’re trialling something new in online delivery, you have to know how well it’s being received. The reality for most, is that the value your learners get should not alter when moved online, so if it is being affected, perhaps your trainer needs some extra support?
- Ask questions – Unlike in-person training, body language is more difficult to read virtually, and it’s hard to know sometimes just how engaged some learners are. The best way to keep people on their toes is to ask questions!
6. How do we go about surveys and assessments?
Jonathan from Sales Geek says there’s two main things you want to be learning post-course:
- What was the training like – the perfect chance to learn how it was delivered
- Did the learners learn what they set out to – the perfect chance to learn how well it was understood
The most important thing is to ask the questions that give you the answers you want from it. There’s a number of tools you can use to collect this feedback if you’ve previously been using paper happy sheets. SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular, or training management solutions like accessplanit already have a survey creation tool built in!
Assessments and exams are also still possible. At accessplanit, we're seeing a lot of higher education organisations are using proctoring services for this. You can learn more about this here.
Sales & Marketing
7. Should we be charging the same for online courses as face to face?
One thing that needs to be considered before determining course cost is your training budget. Without travel costs, venue hire, lunches for learners etc your training budget can stretch up to twice as far.
The above applies to almost every training organisation right now. However, determining how this impacts what you charge, there’s two lines of thought that we ran through in our webinar.
Jonathan says that web courses offer the opportunity to include more learners in a single session, without reducing the value of the session for other learners. So, what may be delivered to 10 people in person, could be offered to 20 online. This means you can offer the course at half the price, whilst not losing out financially. This is particularly beneficial if you have a strong marketing function and high demand for your current training offering, as, after all, you have to double your learners!
Another school of thought is that your online offering should not be devalued by moving online. If done correctly, your delegates should get a very similar experience and education to your face to face sessions. If you’re providing touch points in between web courses or offering value-add initiatives like 1 to 1 sessions, it may even be a perfect time to bump up your prices.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to introduce free snippets of training as tasters. This could be previous training recordings cropped and edited into a marketing video, or a free eLearning course on your website!
Sales Geek run a morning ‘sales huddle’ which is effectively their gift to the sector and has proven a phenomenal marketing tool to get sales off the back of it!
8. What is the number one sales activity to reactivate your business?
Jonathan says the number one thing you can do is get yourself out there.
There’s an overwhelming number of training providers that have gone the quietest when they need to be making the most noise. Three things are on your side right now:
- Decision makers have never been easier to get hold of. The contact number you have for your client may very well lead you straight to the mobile of a Director
- There has never been more social media activity because of the lockdown, with furloughed staff that can still complete CPD. Their employers are waiting for you to upskill them.
- Your competitors are in the exact same boat. If they aren’t reacting and innovating, it’s a perfect chance for you to entice their customers!
The easy thing to do right now is to stay quiet. The right thing to do is over-communicate. As long as your being empathetic, supportive and your message is right, you want to be doing everything you can to let your customers and prospects know you’re still here and going above and beyond to help them through this.
9. If we have media to show during a virtual session, do we show it on our screen or send a link?
It’s not uncommon for training sessions to have some form of video or visual prop involved. For online videos, it’s perfectly acceptable to share your screen and play the video full screen for your learners. Be aware however, this relies on a strong internet connection to host both the web course and buffer a video. An alternative is to send a link, however this is best utilised shortly before a break or when learners have time to watch it at a later date.
For the less tech savvy, there’s no issue at all with creating a setup that allows you to use a flip-chart or marker board just like you would in the classroom, just make sure you write big and clear enough!
10. How do breakout sessions work?
Particularly within Zoom, but also available across other video conferencing tools, you can create what is known as ‘breakout sessions’.
These are effectively mini sub-rooms that allow your delegates to be split up into groups for discussions and activities. Within these, you can pre-determine which learners would go into which rooms, set time limits, and have the ability to drop in and join the discussion. This is great for:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Building rapport with other delegates
- Encouraging participation from all attendees
11. What experience do you have of roleplay in sessions?
Roleplay sessions used effectively, can transform the engagement and energy inside a virtual session. When combined with breakout rooms, this offers the perfect chance to implement what has been learnt and test understanding.
Just consider, when running this, that the following has been thought about:
- The right numbers – Roleplay is far more effective in small groups opposed to training sessions with dozens of learners
- Rules – Be clear that others should stay quiet and allow everyone to have their turn. This may mean muting microphones or at least limiting background noise.
- Rapport – If you have learners joining from across the world, it’s important that you ensure everyone is familiar with one another first!
Tip: Sales Geek use a great method for sales professionals in particular to ‘break the ice’. This involves telling 2 truths and 1 lie about yourself to the rest of the group. Everyone has to guess which is the lie – great fun!
12. Since online training depends on technology, do you go through any checks?
There are a few things that you’re best ironing out before your first online session. This includes:
- Webcam & audio - ensure audio is clear and webcam is working, with any necessary software already installed
- Understanding the tech - trainers need to know how to begin the session, provide support for learners struggling to join and press the necessary buttons to ensure it's recorded!
- Internet connection - A fast connection is preferred, a stable connection is a must. Test with your colleagues first, There's a number of speed tests you can run through google to check your bandwidth.
- Trial runs - Iron out the creases by performing to your colleagues first. There's simply no better way to ensure your virtual training takes off without a hitch
- Other expectations - Your learners need to be made aware of how to present themselves, what's expected of them in the session, what content they need to have read pre-course etc...just like in-person!
Related Resource: Practical Advice For Online Training Delivery
accessplanit are dedicated to serving the training industry through this uncertain time. If you have any further questions you would like us to answer, feel free to comment below. If you would like to speak to one of our experts regarding the above or for anything else training-related for that matter, you can schedule time for call.
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