Virtual Learning 101
As an experienced corporate trainer who facilitated live classroom sessions in helping certify thousands of client employees between the years 2012 to 2019, I have decided to create this Virtual Learning 101 tutorial to help educators face some of the most pressing challenges presented by the coronavirus.
Virtual online training, also known as eLearning, is a new approach for many educators. With the right knowledge and resources, you can become proficient in training students online in a short period of time!
In this blog, I will be detailing some of the systems and processes that I found to be most effective in training students online. First, I want to cut to the chase and discuss what I believe to be the most viable short term solution to effectively communicate with facilitating live training.
There is an online platform known as Zoom that enables administrators and teachers to conduct live correspondence. Zoom has many features that are completely free, and it allows dozens of individuals to simultaneously join a hosted session. To join Zoom, please visit: www.zoom.us Zoom is aware of the many challenges that are being presented by the coronavirus, and they have a landing page which specifically addresses many of the most common questions that educators have. To visit this helpful resource page, click on this link-
Other effective platforms that you might consider include the following: GoToMeeting.com: https://www.gotomeeting.com/
Google Hangouts (Widget is built into your Google Account): https://gsuite.google.com/products/meet/
Adobe Connect (This was the primary resource that we used to facilitate live training to dozens of prospective employees every weekday): https://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html
How Live Training Works As a corporate trainer, the primary eLearning platform we used was Adobe Connect so the things I will be discussing are specific to that software; however, most other platforms have similar features!
Preparing for Live Training As an instructor who hosts a session, it is vital that you have an organized system including a scheduled start time. Be sure to share the link (email or message those who will be attending your session) Send a short tutorial covering some basic rules prior to the beginning of the session. For example, the host of the session should be the one who speaks most of the time, and attendees need to have their microphones muted. If an attendee has questions, encourage them to simply type their questions in the chatroom. If they need to use the microphone to ask questions, you can always conduct a short Q&A session at the conclusion of your training session. The reason for this is that if several people have an open microphone, it can create confusion and can sidetrack teachers from relaying the essential information. The host of the virtual session will want to have a prepared instructional lesson that they can present by sharing their screen with participants. One of the best modalities of conveying instruction is to create PowerPoint presentations. A simple 15-20 slide presentation should suffice for a virtual learning session of around 45-50 minutes. If several subjects are to be covered than it is important to give students a break every 45-50 minutes. I recommend giving breaks of 10-15 minutes before you proceed to the next module or subject. I also highly recommend creating a script. Script out what you will cover for each individual slide. For example, if your presentation is 15-slides, have a corresponding narrator’s script that will help you remain on track! Interjecting “knowledge checks” every few slides helps to reinforce the content being taught. For example, use one of your PowerPoint slides to present the students with a True/False or Multiple Choice question. Prompt the students to answer the questions by simply typing their responses in the chatroom. Wait until every student has submitted their response prior to proceeding to the next slide. I usually give students around 20-30 seconds to submit their responses. I trained adults in corporate settings, so time needed for younger students may vary. I recommend that the host of each virtual session conduct a visual and audio test with a trusted colleague or family member before going live online. This will help you to ensure that you can clearly be seen and heard by other participants prior to going live and to give you time to make necessary audio and visual adjustments. It is important for the facilitator to have adequate lighting (a desk lamp next to your webcam works wonders) and to have a plain colored wall behind him or her. The fewer distractions, the better; however, college diplomas, certification, credentials, or school logo are acceptable.
If you plan on conducting assessments or testing, it will be imperative that your school system has a Learning Management System (LMS). A LMS is a database that enables administrators to create accounts for each of their students and enables teachers to track the progress of their students. You will be able to access the duration of time students spend on each module, and you can view their test scores in real time. A solid and reliable LMS that we used is known as SumTotal and their website is located at: https://www.sumtotalsystems.com/solutions/learn/
For students to take online assessments, they will need to logon to the LMS using issued Chromebooks or other similar devices that are compatible with the LMS. Chromebooks are a very cost effective and reliable instrument for students to use to take exams. Another benefit of having an LMS is that you can upload recorded training modules into what is known as a SCORM package on the LMS for students to access the training modules instead of only conducting live training. This enables you to create a rich library of training modules that the students will be able to access from their LMS homepage. During my time working as a Training and Development Specialist, I created training modules for clients such as Samsung, Kroger, Coca Cola, Liberty Mutual, and several other Fortune 500 companies. Learning how to effectively facilitate live training and develop training curriculum was not a proficiency that I gained overnight. At first, live training can seem like a daunting task, but I noticed that the majority of my coworkers who trained live sessions gained confidence with the process within two weeks. I am happy to answer any questions that you have from A-Z about facilitating live virtual sessions! Please leave a comment with any questions you have, or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org On a personal note: Here at History On Demand, we are offering 10 free history educational products to help educators and students to obtain valuable lessons during the coronavirus. To access these 10 free history products, please visit: https://www.historyondemand.org/post/10-free-educational-resources I hope this short tutorial on Virtual Learning 101 has been helpful. I have complete faith that as a nation we will overcome this coronavirus epidemic and come out of this experience stronger than ever! God Bless, Andrew Farmer