When designing your virtual class, focus on 3 areas: Technical, Content & Facilitation/Moderation

At Impact Instruction, we receive many requests for design and development in the virtual classroom.  We’ve found this method to be a great middle ground between traditional classroom and self-paced experiences.

But how do you design and develop for the virtual classroom in a way that’s simple, structured, meaningful, and promotes application?

In our process, we focus on three critical areas for creating a successful virtual classroom experience:

  • Technical considerations
  • Content design and creation
  • Facilitation and moderation

Below are 10 tips to help you successfully design for and deliver in the virtual classroom. Although this list doesn’t include everything you need to know, it’s a great place to start.

Technical Considerations

1. Use templates.  For each virtual classroom experience, we create three deliverables:  a facilitator guide, a participant guide, and a slide deck for use during the session.   Those deliverables are based from a single template – this creates a structured, visually pleasing, and reusable design.

2. Know and practice with the technology tool you will be using.  We can’t stress enough the importance of confidence in using your technology platform, and specifically an understanding of various features – such as polling, chat, whiteboard, audio, and sharing.  While your technical contact or moderator should be running these elements for you during the session, knowing how they function will give you added confidence during delivery.

3. Lock the classroom after the first 5-10 minutes. This will minimize undue interruptions or technical issues.

Content Design and Creation

4. Use short stories and personal experiences when appropriate.  People connect to stories and remember them more easily than straight facts or statistics. Share a story if it is relevant to the topic at hand and it is short.

5. Remember the 10-minute rule. It is human nature for people to begin tuning out after about 10 minutes. This course is optimized with activities and topical transitions to keep your audience engaged.

6. Know your content well, but don’t memorize all of it. Memorize your opening and closing, but for the middle portion of the event, aim for knowing your content well. This will prevent you from sounding rehearsed and help with a conversational approach that will keep your audience engaged.  

Facilitation and Moderation

7.  It is ideal to have two people (in addition to your technical person), running the virtual classroom.   You may have a facilitator, who is typically your subject matter expert on the topic at hand.  You may have a moderator, whose general role is to provide introductions, handle transitions between topics, reinforce a facilitator’s comments, and handle class questions.  You may have two facilitators, and your technical person acts as the moderator as well.

8.  Practice the course flow together. This includes facilitators, moderators, and technical support. Not only do you need to know the content, you need to know the course flow. Practice transitions between topics, and pre-determine who will cover which topics.

9.  Memorize your introduction and closing.  It’s normal to have some nerves in the first several minutes of delivery. Having your introductory comments memorized will help overcome those nerves – you won’t be grasping for the right words in those opening moments. In the same way, knowing your key closing points will give you a strong finish.

10.  Take a conversational approach.  People are drawn to a good conversation; they will be more engaged when your tone, pitch, and delivery style are conversational and not rehearsed.  If you’re able to incorporate audience responses into your comments, they’ll know you’re listening, and stay engaged with you.  You’ll also be able to gauge their understanding and involvement during your time together. Their input is valuable; your acknowledgement and inclusion of their input will make a big difference.  

Ready to learn more?

Visit http://impactinstruction.com for more information about custom blended training solutions and professional development services offered by Impact Instruction Group. Amy Franko is a 2010 and 2012 Apex Award of Excellence winner for training design.

© 2013 Impact Instruction Group

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