About this L&D Roundtable: Trailblazing the Virtual Transformation of Learning

Hosted by Training Orchestra and Bluewater

Now that the dust is settling, we’ve asked L&D leaders what specific tactics they’ve employed in 2020 to achieve outstanding results through the virtual transformation of learning. The transformation of Instructor-Led Training into a blended learning approach with virtual delivery must benefit the learners, the program outcomes, and the business as a whole.

You’ll hear…

  • How one leader shifted 100% of their office-based workforce to remote effectiveness with 93% compliance
  • How another mobilized 200 new hires on the first Monday after shut-in and retained 98% of them
  • How another increased staff participation by 75% with vILT that focused on empathy around the learning experience for the facilitators and the participants
  • And how another enhanced learning effectiveness by better managing the production of vILT training, and creating a new role within the organization, taking the tech burden off the trainer during the virtual transformation of learning

Our panelists will also discuss:

  • How to build programs, courses, and modalities that make learning more effective
  • How to redesign courses for better outcomes, engagement, measurement, and knowledge transfer
  • Which questions will help you sift through the information overload
  • How to manage existing learning technologies AND the addition of new tools to boost outcomes in a budget-friendly manner

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Your Panelists:

Resources and Tools from Our Hosts

Questions & Answers

1. How have people done virtual training/workshops for breakout sessions or small breakout group work?

I have used Zoom breakout rooms (randomly assigned or planned) to create smaller collaborative conversations, used TEAMS, and had pairs or small groups disconnect from our large TEAMS meeting, quickly meet together, and come back at a given time (10-15 minutes, or longer for more intense work sessions).

2. Which simulators did you use? My company is looking into them as well for practical application.

We are leveraging Virage Simulators, which are based in Montreal.

3. What are some of the best practices you all have found for particularly large groups (200+) for engagement?

Leveraging polls helps to pull in and engage a large group like we had today. Platforms with breakout rooms also help to make a better learner experience for a large group.

Lea Anne: The best practice I have found is not to try to teach 200 people at one time. Is it a “learning” event or it is “information sharing”?  If it is simply information sharing or awareness a large group works.  If you must have 200 people at a learning event, consider encouraging participants to submit questions in advance, identify what they hope to gain out of the session, and assign pre-session work so they tune into the session with “intentional participation”.  Start the session with a poll asking the participants what they hope to learn.  Offer a “text to” option where participants can share a thought, send a word of encouragement, shout out to a colleague, or comment about what they’re learning throughout the session … share the texts on screen. Encourage learners to use the feedback buttons every few minutes to give them a chance to “interact” … use breakout rooms if available.

4. What online platforms have you found to work well for VILT?

It can certainly depend on the learning management system you are using to track training, and what integrations are available with that platform to tie the two together. That being said, we see a majority of organizations using Zoom, Adobe Connect, and WebEx most often.

Adobe Connect for long courses – such as new hires, as it allows a persistent state, and the trainer/facilitator doesn’t have to spend as much time setting up, leaving them more time for them to focus on learners.

5. How do you determine how long virtual sessions should be?

Lea Anne: We are working on that now, but can tell you it is not a “one size fits all” formula.  Mission-critical things for the business like safety production, or sales are top of mind, and building the best learner experience while achieving KPIs is the focus.  The complexity of the material, level of interaction, and even the effectiveness of the platform or equipment like webcam, instructor/participant lighting, and microphone all play into the Learner experience.  If it’s possible to “chunk” lessons into 2-hour segments that helps … but sometimes this is not possible.  Creating opportunities to interact with the learner and each other, and we’re finding giving people the option to turn off their camera as needed gives the learner some control of the experience … just getting a break from “being on” helps Learner fatigue.

6. What platforms are used to facilitate effective virtual training and how do you effectively have small groups/breakout sessions within those virtual environments?

Mark: We’re using Zoom and I think we’re leveraging the breakout sessions pretty effectively. If you already know who’s coming, you can break people out ahead of time based on whatever criteria you choose. However, you can also do it more “in the moment” if it is something that comes up as part of the class. I would say that for the most part, it’s working well, just be mindful of how many people you’re putting in a breakout room. For example, if you’re sticking more than 10 people in there, it’s not going to be very effective and you might as well just have the whole group but you don’t want to put too few people in the breakout rooms either.

Ralph: For us, the majority of our ILT, we’ve transitioned them to E-Learning, but if we’re doing some VILT, we’re using Microsoft Teams now. We used to learn with Zoom, but our enterprise decided to go with Microsoft Teams, it’s working out well but we had to do a lot of training on the front just to be sure that our staff was comfortable doing it because the transition to working virtually was very big, and Teams weren’t leveraged a lot because of that reason.

7. Lea Anne, can you take a few moments on the approach you used with formalizing the Training Producer role?

Lea Anne: We delineated the distinctions between what the educator would do (teach) and what the producer would do (ensure learners could log in — especially our new hires that were new to that type of meeting or learning), working technical issues, watching the chat … this frees up the educator to focus on delivering the instruction.  Then we added to the role so we could schedule/book the educators into classes or as producers.  Any of our educators may be a producer, decisions are made based on the class requirements.

8. One of our challenges is to take classroom instructors and teach them to train others virtually, which is a very different skill set. Most have very little instructional experience to begin with and may have only been in that position for only 2 to 3 years. Does anyone have similar experience with this challenge, or can offer potential solutions for rapidly training instructors to deliver effective virtual training?

Celeste: We have landed on a model where we have one facilitator that delivers all the content for our orientation and then we have multiple people supporting the session instead of having different facilitators doing different sessions and then the onboarding team trying to manage all the different invites, trying to make sure all the right people show up. We’ve landed on one facilitator to do that, she’s very skilled and experienced in a virtual environment. However, some of our other facilitators were not initially and so as we began to work through those things, we found that a support person was critical in helping manage the chat a lot of the interactions, and the questions that arose. For us, we just shored up the team that was delivering the content.

9. How do you know the training you delivered had the impact you wanted?

Celeste: For us, one of our biggest indicators was that our satisfaction scores remained the same. That surprised us because we did a lot of benchmarking when we developed our orientation a couple of years about and determined that in-person ILT, the face-to-face contact was going to be very important. However, we found that technology has evolved so much that people can engage and interact virtually just as well as in person. Many are more uninhibited in a virtual environment than in person.

Lea Anne: I agree with what Celeste said. The technology has gotten a lot better and people are more open. For us, we did have great satisfaction scores with both ILT and VILT, but the follow-up data was the biggest indicator for us to see how things are transferring from the classroom to the virtual experience. We’re keeping an eye on that, there have been some great things but also some things that we need to fix. I would encourage you to see with your learners how everything is going once in a while.

10. How do you ensure that those participants who are not as “techy” make the successful transition to VILT?

Lea Anne: This is where our Producer role has been extremely helpful.  In a long course, the Producer will be engaged with the class until the comfort level is in place for our learners with both the technology and each other. Typically after about 10 hours of training, the learners are comfortable with the features of the virtual classroom and do not need “hand-holding”.  Our educators have also worked extensively with the technology so they can ease all learners into things like using the feedback features – asking learners to click the “thumbs up” if they can hear the educator, or click the smiley face (whatever feedback options are available). Those “baby steps” help the “not as techy learners” settle into the new learning environment. Also, tell them step-by-step what to expect when they are assigned to a breakout room and assign “seasoned” virtual learners or Producers to each breakout room to guide the newer virtual learners.

About the Hosts

Training Orchestra
Training Orchestra’s award-winning Training Management Software is a scheduling system to automate and optimize Instructor-Led and Virtual Instructor-Led Training (ILT / VILT) operations and maximize training budgets. As a complement to your LMS and learning tech, Training Orchestra helps organizations around the world increase resource use, optimize session scheduling, and track and control costs in real-time. Organizations gain control over their training operations so they can, “Train More with Less.”
Connect with Training Orchestra: LinkedIn | Twitter

Bluewater is the client-side partner for learning, talent, and human capital management that brings deep expertise for the selection, implementation, and operation of learning and talent management systems. As a full-service consulting and services company, Bluewater focuses on solving business problems by maximizing the value of our client’s technology investments in these areas.
Connect with Bluewater Learning: LinkedIn | Twitter

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