Getting Tech Savvy With It

Four tips for delivering online learning.

By Callie Verderosa

Working (and training) from home invites technology and creativity to create a connection to one another that mirrors the physical office or classroom. To some, navigating tools for online learning can be a fun exploration, while for others, it can be daunting and overwhelming to learn a new tool. No matter how you or your audience feel about the tools to make online learning happen,  the reality is that we’ve already shifted, and we’ve shifted fast; we will have to continue to provide online learning to students, teams, staff, and organizational members for the coming months. 

Whether you’re designing an online course, facilitating a webinar, or overhauling a physical program to a virtual experience, here are four ways you can deliver a quality learning experience to your audience. 

1. Start with the End in Mind

The early phases of designing online education is no different than mapping out in-person education. Start with the end in mind – meaning, what do you want your audience to have learned as a result of participating? Write down your learning outcomes (the specific skills and knowledge the learner will gain) based on this question and build out your program with the outcomes as your guide. This also applies to staff or business meetings – if you’ve transformed your team meetings to video calls – be sure you have a strict agenda that is shared with your team, with outcomes to be achieved before the call ends. Clear and concreate learning outcomes ensure time is spent productively, and it’ll be harder to fall off course. 

2. Engage Your Audience.

 There are plenty of platforms that are equipped for virtual audience engagement (ZoomGoogle Meet/ClassroomGoToMeeting). There are also platforms that can be used to enhance or supplement learning through gamification, and polling (Kahoot!Poll EverywhereKialo) which provide opportunities to apply or practice content. And, there’s software that allows you to design your own online courses to publish to a Learning Management System to combine information sharing with application (like Articulate360 and Knowledge Vision). No matter how you choose to engage your learners, consider who your audience is and how they’ll best receive the material you’re covering. 

You may not have the luxury of time to explore new platforms. Your goal might simply be to deliver your content on a schedule to make it through the next few months. If you’re unable to entirely flip how you engage your audience, there are simple ways to add engagement that don’t require additional time or money: 

  • a simple recorded video on your smart phone that explains instructions, delivers answers to frequently asked questions, or explains an activity 
  • holding “office hours” virtually
  • creating a shared album for your learners to share relevant photos of their new work from home spaces or ways they’re engaging in learning 

These are three great ways for your audience to see you and engage with you. 

3. Continue the Conversation

Strategic and facilitated discussion after a training is a continuation of learning. Text-based apps like Slack or GroupMe, or online forums, whether they’re for university or organizational based data management (Canvas, SalesForce), social interaction (Facebook groups, Twitter), or even email threads allow for conversations to continue once a training has ended. Prepare discussion questions ahead of time that challenge audiences to apply what they’ve learned over the course of a couple of weeks in different settings, and report back to the larger group at a later date.

4. Be Flexible

Online learning might be unchartered territory for you and your audience. Be flexible with yourself and others, especially if your curriculum wasn’t intended to be completely online. There might be times when the internet goes down, videos are pixelated, and audio doesn’t work. Don’t panic if things don’t go exactly as planned. Although it may not be the most glamorous for training, you can get your own conference line from where you can keep talking if internet crashes. You can record your training and share it later with those who aren’t able to attend. Moving short meetings, or meetings of minor importance, to a conference call platform is also a good way to manage video fatigue and give your eyes a break from the screen.

Online learning isn’t a new phenomenon, but many of us have had to unexpectedly move our programs, curriculum, and trainings to the virtual world. It might be overwhelming to simultaneously explore new online tools and virtually deliver the once in-person content to your audience. Just remember that most of your goals and purposes are still the same. 

For additional support in any area of delivering online learning, from writing learning outcomes to creating online courses or delivering programming, Plaid has a number of solutions to support you. 

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