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Leadership Development

How to Succeed in the Age of Online Learning

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how to overcome The Challenges of incorporating technology and online training into leadership development

With the sudden shift to remote working and learning, organizations are challenged with generating content and choosing the method of delivery for learning and development and keeping learning offerings applicable to organizations and participants.

With this huge shift in culture, location, and even the timing of work, individuals in the learning and development field have the advantage of being able to move their face-to-face learning to online platforms. Though some elements of in-person facilitation translate well to a virtual session, other elements need modification.

In the book Virtual Training Basics, Cindy Huggett identifies three key differences between in-person and virtual sessions:

  • The role of technology—while an in-person facilitator often uses technology to enhance learning, in a virtual setting, technology becomes the main platform that promotes learning and interactions and builds upon content
  • Engaging learners—different methods are needed to engage and build a rapport with participants
  • Multitasking—instructors occupy many roles at once; presenter, host, engager, and technology administrator

With the role of technology becoming much more influential, investing time into your leaders while juggling many new responsibilities may seem like a daunting task. However, now that the major changes to conducting virtual sessions instead of in-person training have been recognized, leaders can tackle these challenges head-on. Below we have identified some of our best practices for conducting online learning that will contribute to your success. 

FlashPoint’s Tips + Tricks for virtual learning:

  • Content originally created for the traditional in-person sessions doesn’t always map well to a virtual classroom setting. Be prepared to allocate more time for strategizing, creating, and reforming each session so that your program will translate in a virtual setting. Reconfiguring your content may take more time than usual, but will ultimately contribute to your program’s effectiveness and participants’ success later in their organization.
  • Virtual sessions are often accompanied with a slow start. Starting a virtual session can take more time than an in-person session. Plan for participants to complete a few tasks to check off before they even enter the “classroom,” including:
    • Locate login credentials
    • Log in
    • Join the room
    • Test audio
    • Prepare to learn
  • Often, technology issues appear. It’s smart to build more breathing room into your agenda for these technology delays, and if possible, practice, practice, practice.
  • Interactions and feedback are different with online learning. Traditional in-person sessions foster organic interactions between instructors and learners and often promote an environment for constant feedback (head nodding, laughing, smiling, perplexed faces, etc.). To help with this potential roadblock to receiving feedback, set aside time to ask for feedback and interact with the participants by using polls or other interactive elements. Use video, if appropriate for a more "authentic" experience, but ensure your audience is comfortable with the technology.  
  • Multitasking is an important skill when managing a virtual classroom, but make sure you are focused on the learner. Especially if there is no tech support for the session, you may be wearing many hats, from facilitator to troubleshooter. Be realistic on what you can do with your limited time and support and rehearse before the live event. Even so, it is easy to become distracted, so ensure your other technologies are put on hold – your email, other phones, your cell phone.

At FlashPoint, we take this change in workforce location and culture seriously. We have designed programs specifically for organizations that have a high presence of remote workers. After all, customizing learning programs and catering towards your participants’ needs will help participants retain and practice their learnings more effectively. Contact us  for more information on the virtual learning sessions that we provide assistance with to keep your employees agile and successful, even while remote.

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Madison Horth

Madison Horth is a past FlashPoint employee who managed client projects to keep them on track, on time, and goal-oriented. Her passion for research and data helped clients grow and excel.