In the first two posts in this series, we shared our opinions on how to effectively transfer content to the virtual classroom, and what the length of such an experience should be. In this third installment of this four part series taken from our book, The Learning eXPLOSION: 9 Rules to Ignite Your Virtual Classrooms, we will briefly touch on instructional design.
Please Note! What works in the traditional classroom may not work online. Taking your well-balanced interactive instructor-led training (ILT), and simply throwing it into a virtual classroom platform where you share PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide while lecturing your poor audience to sleep, is NOT the right approach. This point may seem obvious, but unfortunately, this is how much of today’s online synchronous learning is taking place.
When you begin building your new virtual classroom experience think about who your virtual learners are. They are most likely sitting at their desk surrounded by numerous other potential distractions like email, the Web, co-workers, background noise, cell and work phones, bosses, their job responsibilities, and much more. In other words, they are just looking for an opportunity to leave your online lecture to update their Facebook status with something like “I would rather crawl across a field of broken glass than attend this boring webinar.”
So knowing that you have to win the battle of distraction, you will need to build a virtual experience with frequent interaction and engagement. To do this we recommend that you hold your learners virtually accountable in three ways— Verbally, Visually, and Kinesthetically. We call this the Rule of Virtual Accountability.
In each of the three areas of virtual accountability there are activities you can create and platform tools you can utilize to build an engaging experience. For example, to hold your learners verbally accountable you could communicate up front that you want their verbal participation, and provide frequent opportunities for them to verbally respond to questions and exercises. To hold your learners visually accountable you should provide a visual roadmap of the training. And preferably not a slide with bullet points. If your platform allows for it, use videos to teach a principle. If you do this be sure to keep your learners accountable by asking them to answer related questions during or after the video. In the case of Kinesthetic accountability give your learners something to write on during the experience. We call these supplemental materials, Toolkits. Have them refer to their toolkits throughout the webinar to read a quote, complete an assessment, or answer relevant questions.
These are just a few of the many wonderful and exciting activities you can build into your virtual classroom. Search the Learning Explosion for more instructional design ideas, experiment with some of your own, and to share them with online communities.