Digital Coaching For Steady Enchancment: Ideas To Adapt
Case study: How a hybrid VILT model helped a company face new “normal” challenges
Everyone agrees that 2020 was an unprecedented year for learning and development. Although companies may have attended virtual training courses prior to COVID-19, the pandemic has forced global organizations around the world to dive head first. One of the main reasons the interest in virtual training soared in 2020 was the number of employees working from home. While no one can predict the future, post-pandemic virtual training is expected to continue to grow as companies discover its benefits and realize the cost savings of the model.
Continuous improvement for virtual training in today’s business climate
Learn how the COVID crisis affected training strategies and what you can do to prepare your L&D approach for the new normal.
Four experts weigh in
L&D experts who inevitably turned to virtual training in 2020 want to know how they can best use it in the future. What follows are four thought-provoking essays with practical suggestions and best practices for continually improving virtual training, as well as extensive resources for learner professionals who want to delve deeper.
In the eBook “Continuous Improvement for Virtual Training in Today’s Business Climate”, four global L&D pioneers discuss how the COVID-19 crisis has affected their training
Approaches in 2020; how they have organizationally adapted to the challenges of providing learning in a volatile business climate; and which of these adjustments they believe will be here forever and why. They also share their predictions for the future of education in 2021 and beyond. This is the first story in our series, provided by Joanne Astorga, Chief LX Specialist at GEVC.
Adaptation to an accelerated development plan
I work for a small eLearning company in Ottawa, Canada. Our clients include government departments, national associations, private companies, nonprofits and post-secondary organizations. Before the pandemic, most of our customers conducted most of their training in a classroom, although 90% of our business has always converted teacher-led training, policies and procedures to an online asynchronous format.
Effects of the COVID-19 crisis
In March 2020, we had two reverse challenges: a slowdown for large organizations and an acceleration of the warp speed for post-secondary facilities. When government departments and national associations switched much of their workforce (including L&D teams) to a work-from-home model, the training projects we had worked with them slowed down due to a lack of IT and collaboration infrastructure. In the first few months up to early summer 2020, many of our customers neither had reliable VPN access to their company’s servers nor robust software for collaboration and / or communication. As a result, many of our projects came to a temporary standstill. Unable to predict when the pandemic would stabilize, organizations have frozen their non-essential spending budgets and, as is often the case, pulled out of their L&D budgets to pay for other urgent expenses.
However, the opposite was the case with a post-secondary institution that we work with. To continue serving its students (especially the international student population as borders were closing quickly and students could not come to North America to take their courses) it was crucial to make the teacher-led courses face-to-face virtual and online -Courses to adapt format in time for the spring-summer semester. In our “Warp Speed” project, we converted seven courses with more than 40 hours to an asynchronous online format in just over eight weeks. That meant writing and developing more than 280 hours in 40 days, which means seven hours of training a day. If you’ve ever studied the ratio of development to training time, you know that it usually takes much, much longer to create effective online learning
Meeting the challenges of a “new normal”
How did we prepare for such an accelerated development plan? By relying more heavily on three things, we have always done it. The first was to separate the role of teaching design from the role of graphic design and development, as specialists can complete their specific tasks faster and more effectively than generalists. The second was to use Dr. Willing to involve Thalheimer for the science of presentation, reminding us to: involve learners from the start; Help them learn with well-organized information. Build in ways to help them remember; and motivate learners to respond to their new knowledge. The third was to improve processes on the fly and agree to break new ground to get better results quickly. In terms of better results, most of the trainers we worked with during those first few months were deeply concerned about the effectiveness of the move to VILT.
Their palpable concern was based on uncertainty about their roles, as in the hybrid VILT model that the institution adopted, the content was put online and the instructors offered shorter, scheduled VILT sessions each week. “What will I do while the students read the content?” and “What do you need me for if you already have the course content?” were two frequently asked questions.
The reverse approach
As always, we’ve answered these questions … by “flipping” the classrooms so learners can view (and redisplay) content at their own pace before conducting virtual teacher-led sessions. The nature and quality of these VILT sessions are improving for everyone. Students can review content at their own pace and, if they wish, use accessibility features like screen readers as often as they want. For their part, educators no longer have to explain and repeat facts, figures, theories, principles, frameworks and models, but can focus on providing more detailed examples, telling more complex case studies, and discussing more nuanced questions from students who had time to review the content digest and synthesize.
I also remind people that people read twice as fast as anyone can speak. Hence, it has always been a more efficient use of everyone’s time to use VILT for interaction and engagement rather than memorization, especially during a pandemic when everyone carries an extra burden and work days are busier than ever as jobs move closer to one adapt to the ever-changing “new normal”.
The learners appreciate our VILT model
We received feedback from learners that they were pleasantly surprised by how responsive and effective a hybrid VILT was. Students appreciated short introductory videos from their teachers, which help set the tone and context for the following information. Students learning English as a second language appreciated being able to read and reread online content as often as they wanted and using a screen reader to help them pronounce it. All students looked forward to meeting their teacher and classmates in VILT sessions which, when repeated regularly, helped build a sense of camaraderie and community they did not expect.
Vision for the future
Just as the pandemic has uncovered fault lines in our societies, it has also reminded us of truths we have taken for granted – like the need for human connection, the power of a unique voice, the difference even small kindnesses can make, and the fact that any L&D technology, be it a learning management system, course creation tool, or virtual training platform, is only as effective as the people who use it. We need to invest in people, including qualifying our L&D specialists, training our trainers, expanding our L&D teams to include additional specialists in instructional design, graphic design, UX and accessibility, and developing course materials.
I envision an L&D industry that is finally realizing the value of instructional design and presentation skills, seeking those skills in new L&D members, and sharing those skills as much as possible so that people no longer “Uuggghhhh, me have to do another online training session ”to“ I cannot wait for this online session. You are so dedicated and make you think! “
I also anticipate that more business organizations will begin to adapt a more diverse model for their virtual training, where learners have access to a combination of short pre-recorded videos by well-spoken experts, well-written online content, and job aids. Virtual teacher-led sessions where learners can ask questions or focus on more technical details, complex concepts, or question-and-answer sessions. After all, it’s a model that has worked great for massive online open courses (MOOCs) for many years and for good reason.
Virtual training for continuous improvement for adaptation and further development
Finally, given the massive adoption of VILT, I expect more organizations to offer train-the-trainer sessions for subject matter experts. Again, we have always known that SMEs are not necessarily skilled speakers or trainers (although of course there are some), just as we know that instruction design and public speaking can be taught, learned and practiced for better organization and individual results.
Download the Continuous Improvement for Virtual Training in Today’s Business Climate eBook to learn how L&D thought leaders have overcome the COVID challenges and what they see for the future of online training.
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