Thursday, January 26, 2012

Moving to the Virtual Classroom: A Trainer’s Roadmap to Success with Cindy Huggett #ASTDTK12

My live notes from Cindy Huggett’s @cindyhugg session at ASTD TK12. She’s been doing virtual classroom since 2001.
She wrote the book: Virtual Training Basics
Two types of virtual training: webinar vs. classroom
One def of virtual training: “an online synchronous instructor led class with participants in dispersed locations, that uses a virtual classroom software program” vILT (virtual instructor led)
Step #1: Clarify definitions and expectations.
Ask what do you mean by virtual training? what are your goals?
Tells the story of an org that was having issues – she had told them one person, one computer, one phoneline, but they were all in the same room.
Construction site – might not be the best use of virtual.
Step #2: Remember that virtual training is still training.
Apply what you already know – learning outcomes – to change behavior, learn skills (although may just be knowledge acquisition).
Lots of people forget what they know to do in the classroom -- when they get to virtual and instead they do death by powerpoint.
How many people do you typically have in a face to face class? Mostly in the 15-25 range for f2f classes. How many people do you put in a virtual class? Is it the same number? Just because you can cram in lots of people, doesn’t mean you should. The # you have in the virtual class is the same you should have in f2f.  (If 100 people showed up to your class that you designed for 20 people, it probably wouldn’t work).
You can design classes for larger classes.
Skills trainers need: facilitate discussion, engage participants, present content, use technology, give instructions, observe particpants, keep track of time…
Three main differences for a facilitator going from f2f to online:
  • technology is the delivery mechanism
  • different type of multi-tasking for the facilitator
  • engage participants in new ways (because you can’t see them)
Step #3: Learn your virtual classroom software.
Learn what it looks like for you and your participants. Learn every button in that tool. Know what it can do.
(What’s the difference with the tools? Like cars, every tool has unique features. They all do similar things, but they have different layouts, etc.)
[Cool: Cindy’s using Poll Everywhere right now – 35% of participants using WebEx].
And always ask – what version of the virtual classroom software will be used? (e.g., Citrix goto meeting, goto training, goto webinar – they do different things!)
So how do you learn? All the vendors have classes, etc. – then use it – then practice.
Step #4: Set up for success.
Have a consistent setup for every class you deliver. (what does your desk look like when you facilitate online?”
Cindy shows us a picture of her desk when she gives a webinar:
  • Two computers – one logged in as presenter and one as the student. AND she has an extra backup computer. (some platforms let you see what the student sees)
  • Water (with a lid!)
  • Print out of her presentation in case something goes wrong
  • Sticky notes with reminders (do you speak too fast, too slowly? etc.)
  • Headset for phone (use the phone that you’ve got a clear, solid connection on – could be VOIP, landline, cell phone – but have backup)
  • Thumbdrive with materials
  • Backup Internet connection (she has a USB wifi…) in case power outage, etc…
  • Clock in the background
Get into your space an hour before the session starts – not when it starts!
Step #5: Be prepared. Be extra prepared.
Prep your notes, practice, have tech backups for internet, do you have a copy of your link if you lose connection?, have options for exercises if they don’t work…– download her “checklist for virtual delivery” – to help you think through your back up plan.
Step #6: Get good at multi-tasking.
It’s about preparation and speed. Making quick corrections and adjustments (it’s like driving – you need to be able to monitor many things at once but keep moving forward).
Tips for multitasking:
  • be prepared – know your content really well
  • know your software – make sure you know where the button is to find the poll question!
  • have a co-pilot – a producer or a co-facilitator – when you have shared responsibility, it makes it easier. 
  • be a proficient typist
  • practice!
  • resist temptation to do too much
  • know what’s ok to let slide (you don’t have to comment on every single chat that comes in through the chat window)
[it can be more expensive to do virtual – I need a co-facilitator, another computer, headsets…you have different expenses than you might in f2f]
Step #7: Harness your voice.
Pay attention to your volume, rate, tone and overall sound. (Record a virtual class so you can hear your own voice – then listen for 10 minutes!)
Modulate your voice.
Get used to your microphone (it can change the sound of your voice).
Step #8: Engage participants.
  • Plan for interaction at least every 3-5 minutes.
  • “Teaching online is like teaching after lunch.” ~ Jennifer Hoffman
  • Open poll, use breakouts, app share, use chat, annotate, handouts, notes, etc. – use the tools
  • “let’s do a pair chat – joe, sally – find each other in private chat and have a deeper conversation”
  • Use handouts in your session – not your slides – but something that goes along with it (might email, they download, ship them a box with a popcorn bag, bag of tea and the handouts…”come join us at 1:00 on Friday”)
  • Use the whiteboard – even in large classes, you can say “if you’re wearing blue today, let’s answer this question” on the whiteboard.
  • Remember, not a passive webcast – but an active virtual training experience.
  • Start before you start…as soon as the learner logs in start engaging them –
  • Set ground rules upfront and let them know it’s going to be an interactive session.
  • Set the calendar invite for the meeting start to 5 minutes early (so people aren’t logging in at one minute after the start).
  • Don’t spend 20 mins introducing the program – get them in right from the start.
  • In small classes, keep people OFF mute (encourage them to go to a quiet conference room if they need to so they can have a better learning experience).
Step #9: Practice, practice, practice.
vILT can cost more so you can take the time to learn the software, to practice, etc. – make the commitment and the investment.
Step #10: Know what to do when everything goes wrong.
Expect challenges and prepare for them!
What can go wrong? (audio – there’s an echo, it goes out; technology snafus – the link changes, etc.)
If you’re running a virtual classroom, set your email response to “I’m in a virtual class right now. And if you’re a participant, here’s the link…”
  • Prepare participants (send the link in advance so they can test, work with IT so people’s systems are set up)
  • Prepare yourself
  • Prepare your backup plans
Tips for the in the moment (when it all goes wrong):
  • Expect tech challenges
  • Stay calm and take a deep breath (don’t get flustered….)
  • Let the producer handle it.
  • Spend moment or two troubleshooting.
  • Use your backup plans.

No comments: