In this four-part series, we are going to explore helpful tips on how to adapt In-person instructor-led training (ILT) content for a virtual modality. For Part 1 of this series, we will provide four tips to help maximize your content for virtual training. Last year, COVID-19 forced the training world shift to virtual training almost overnight. While many training organizations and L&D departments were already offering blended learning or e-learning modules on a regular basis, most of the training, content and workshop activities focused on face-to-face ILT.
Due to the rapid shift, most organizations quickly transitioned all training to Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other various platforms to ensure that critical learning continued. This was not a pivot or a long-term solution—it was a Band-Aid. Programs and content that were designed for in-person training had subtle flaws when conducted online; however, stopping training all together was not an option.
As the year progressed, it became evident that virtual training was going to be an integral part of training for the foreseeable future. “Getting by” would no longer cut it and programs and content needed to be reimagined and designed to ensure they were optimized for a virtual training environment.
The way you approach the content, design and delivery for virtual training requires a shift in mindset. You need to embrace the reality that the virtual learning experience should be different from face-to-face ILT. Adapting your content for virtual training is not about trying to deliver the ILT content via a webinar—it’s about maximizing the learning experience and achieving the outcomes within the virtual environment.
With that in mind, here are four tips to adapting your content for virtual training.
While there is a high demand for virtual training, it’s not realistic to convert too many courses at once. The first step you need to take is to prioritize the content. Assess the critical skill gaps and training needs that must be addressed for your organization and your learners, and then make some decisions—starting with the most critical needs first.
- Get creative:
Once you have identified which course (or courses) need to be converted, begin by mapping the learning objectives back to the content. This is the perfect opportunity to look at the program through a new lens to ensure that the content is organized and delivered in a way that is engaging, logical and digestible. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Can any of the content be consumed as prework?
- Can any of the content be transformed into a post-training sustainment microlearning or job aid?
- Can you convert a lecture segment into a video or discussion-based case study?
- Reevaluate timing:
While the content should be your guide, try to cap a single session at no more than 90 minutes. When working through your agenda, remember that the timing for activities during a face-to-face session will not always translate the same way in a virtual session. For example, participants seated at table groups can quickly turn to a partner for a peer coaching activity. In a virtual classroom, partners need to be assigned to breakout rooms, conduct the activity and then be brought back together in the main room for a debrief.
- Structure for continuity:
One of the many benefits of virtual training is the flexibility to deliver the sessions over an extended period of time. An eight-hour ILT that is typically delivered in one day can be redesigned as four or five 60-minute virtual sessions. While this shift is certainly helpful from a logistical standpoint (and financial if you need to reserve rooms or book flights for ILT), it does make it harder to reengage participants if it has been a week since the last session. Just as participants in a face-to-face ILT can track the topics and flow of the day in their agenda, participants engaged in a multisession virtual program should always know where they are in the progression of the course.
Certainly, no one wants a repeat of 2020. Even the most prepared organizations struggled to keep up with the amount of rapid change we all endured. Training organizations and departments were stretched thin and did their best to quickly shift to virtual training to maintain some resemblance of training.
While the return to “normal” is still unclear, we do know for certain that virtual training is here to stay. L&D practitioners should look at this obstacle as an opportunity to reinvent their courses to maximize the learner experience for a virtual training format.
Up Next: Part 2 of our Designing and Delivering Virtual Training series which focuses on how to adapt your training to improve the virtual learning experience.