Shifting Your Face-To-Face Coaching On-line
How to successfully relocate your personal training online
Are you in a situation where you need to quickly convert your existing classroom training materials to the virtual classroom or to an asynchronous or eLearning platform? And by quick I mean – this conversion should have been yesterday.
If so, you are not alone. Almost all organizations are facing this challenge in one way or another as the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to change existing training materials.
Global pandemic or not, we must be ready to act on the short term to adapt our training materials to changing environments. Maybe you have travel bans, a global workforce, or a lack of presenter resources. I’ve seen all of this at some point during my Talent Development (TD) journey, so the ability to train employees virtually or through eLearning is an invaluable must-have resource.
Where do we start?
Our heads spin as we try to brainstorm how the magical, immersive eight hour classroom experience we’re used to could potentially fit into an abbreviated eLearning module while maintaining effectiveness and engagement. The first thing we have to realize and accept is that the training will be different. We shouldn’t expect it to be the same experience. But can we achieve the same learning outcomes through a different modality? Necessarily. The key is to make sure we are successfully setting up our learners to meet the learning objectives. We need to focus on the structure and organize the course specifically for the new environment.
In a previous role, I led new employee training for the department, which meant running employee onboarding events every two weeks. I was a person. I had to figure out how to either reproduce to accommodate all the courses I needed, or come up with a new strategy. I remember my manager suggesting a solution – that I record my in-person or virtual training sessions and  then provide the admission link when we have a new employee.
What?! I was appalled by the suggestion. “You mean you want new employees to listen to a recording?” My training sessions were all about interaction, discussion and relationship building. I knew that recording would not allow the learner to apply what they had learned, nor would it provide personalized feedback.
Another example in this role was that when employees made recurring mistakes at work, I was called for refresher training. “We need to inform them that they will never make this mistake again,” I was told. Again, the request to me was to take a PowerPoint slide deck created by SMEs and upload it to the learning management system so that the learner can hopefully read it. Can you guess the result? The mistakes were repeated in most cases, even after the “training” was rolled out.
I wasn’t willing to let our learners and staff down with ineffective training. Still, as I am a person and have been asked to move my training online while helping my manager understand what constitutes effective training and development, I had to change my usual training.
Take the first steps
To get your content online quickly and effectively, let’s look at some ideas to speed up the process.
Make sure your content is valid and relatable
Before thinking about upgrading your current material from teacher-led to online training, check to see if the content is out of date. If so, let it go! Sometimes we are creatures of habit and offer training to provide training because we have always done so.
What is the use of exhausting oneself with a topic or perspective that nobody is interested in or put into practice? For example, has the organizational culture changed in such a way that the content as it is currently presented is irrelevant? Does the training also refer to “how things are really done here”? If not, there is no point in reusing it.
Also, it may mean that you need to make sure that your eLearning course is up to date with the most recent program update, meaning that the version of the software has not changed since the course was developed. For example, has a software update changed the appearance of an application since the course was developed? If so, revise all screenshots accordingly. Are processes with regard to organizational systems still handled as outlined in the work aid? Now is the time to make sure your content is helping learners be effective and productive.
Make every L&D project step a mini
Even if you are asked to quickly move your classroom training into a virtual modality, it still has to meet the learning objectives. If you’re pressed for time, do a mini needs assessment instead of skipping a step entirely. Instead of asking no questions at the beginning of a learning project, ask a question or two, such as, “What does success look like when the learners have completed the training?” Then list the key skills, behaviors, and tasks that learners have to do differently after the training.
Another small step in the onboarding example is to ask the new employee’s manager, “What can we do to improve the new employee’s experience and productivity?” Or ask two employees who have been in in the department and ask, “What would have made it easier for you to get started in full productivity if you had known it in the first month?”
Add only the bare essentials. Leave out all the beautiful things. This will shrink the content immensely.
Add tasks that learners need to complete
In my previous hiring role, I’ve found learning stuck when learners had to do something (a task) instead of just clicking through slides. An effective tutorial requires more than one set of clickable PowerPoint slides. The learner has to experience real scenarios, try out tasks and receive feedback in the process. An extrinsic smiley face and a thumbs-up symbol at the end are not enough.
An example of this in a virtual classroom would be a knowledge review question where a moderator asks learners to respond with a green check mark or red X, then prompts a learner to listen more and provides personalized feedback. Or when a moderator takes a poll of the audience and responds based on the results. Or if there is a breakout activity and the moderator does a debriefing based on the results of the learners in the assigned small groups. It’s still about trying it out and letting the learner practice.
For an onboarding program delivered through asynchronous online training, you can assign new employees to log into the intranet to find answers to a number of questions, such as: B. “How many direct employees does Manager Alex have in the IT department?” And “Which HR employee deals with questions about employee benefits, such as employee benefits? B. flexible spending in healthcare? “
Avoid simply importing PowerPoint slides from an ILT course
I moderate ATD’s eLearning Instructional Design Certificate and ATD’s Articulate Storyline  Programs. In these courses, we recommend avoiding the simple import of PowerPoint slides from the classroom training. Why? Because face-to-face training and eLearning are different learning modalities. The content may be the same, but the experience cannot be transmitted in the same way when it is placed in the online space.
For example, what happens in eLearning when animations are to occur? Or when should the moderator click to create slides? Or if a participant discussion should take place?
These steps should help:
- Modularize the course. Break up the content to make it easier for learners to digest.
- Create a user interface.
- Turn the interactive experiences that happen in the classroom into interactive experiences in the online space.
For example, if you have students try on PPE in the ILT classroom, think about how you can get them to replicate this online. Perhaps they dress a character in PPE based on different scenarios presented.
Find a tool that will make it easier for you to create the programs
There are an abundance of eLearning tools out there, and knowing where to start can be daunting. I prefer Articulate 360 Storyline and RISE, but I also recommend checking out a recent Elucidat blog post if you’re trying to weigh the pros and cons of different tools. Steve Penfold first asks questions that you should consider about yourself and the training you are planning before outlining the capabilities of authoring tools. You can then choose a tool based on the features that are important to you.
For example, are you so confident in your technical skills that you are able to use a more complex authoring tool? What do you need in terms of scalability? How much budget do you have? In addition to the information from Penfold’s post, I recommend asking other moderators what tools work for them.
Remember, it may seem like a lot of work upfront, but there are immense benefits once your content is online. eLearning has advantages for the learner and the organization. The learner receives a personalized experience and can complete the self-directed learning in their own time. The learning is easy to follow for the organization; the delivered content is consistent; and there is less expense due to less travel expenses, less moderator costs, and less time spent on the training event. Give it a try and I bet you will be impressed with what you can produce in a short amount of time.
 Certificate for virtual training and moderation
 Articulate Storyline Certificate
Originally published at www.td.org.