Making the Switch to Remote Learning: 4 Best Practices to Consider

- Colter Staff

If your team is exploring ways of transforming your live, in-person training programs into eLearning or live virtual events, consider these 4 tips.

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Tip #1 : Get (even further) away from lecture

For some of us in 2020 the shift to remote learning is a forced choice. Still, this is our chance to re-imagine our courses and programs to get learners more engaged via discussion, activities, breakouts, and other instructional methods. We have learners for a limited amount of time, and their attention for even less. By keeping them "active" and "doing" we're holding their attention and interest level, but more importantly, our programs will have greater learning impact. It's definitely work to create compelling, real-world content - activities, exercises, stories, case studies, games and other elements that make learning stick - but it pays big dividends in what learners come away with. 

Tip #2 : Less Content, More Impact

Any time we're revisiting the design of a program is also the perfect time to revisit the scope of our content and if we're biting off too much for the time we have. Take a fresh look at your coverage and find any places where you can reduce or compress without sacrificing key takeaways for the learner. Content compression also has the added benefit of creating some needed space for new actitivies, practice and feedback. Focus on what's critical to the task, and don't do a deep-dive if learners don't really need it or aren't ready for it. Provide post-training resources if necessary, but don't pack together a 4-hour program that could have been a lean 90 minutes. 

Similarly, break sessions up into shorter, digestible units - consider the following time ranges:

  • Microlearning/Explainer Videos: under 5 min,
  • eLearning: 15-20 min,
  • Webinar: 45-90 min.

If that means you have more sessions, fine. If your program becomes too long/dense and you lose them, it defeats the purpose.  And, with so many folks forced to learn at home, learners should be getting in the rhythm of engaging in frequent remote learning sessions - it's a new reality for many of us.

Tip #3: Blended Remote Learning

Still debating between eLearning and live webinars?  On their own, each delivery channel has well established advantages/drawbacks, but if you are looking at converting an in-person program into remote learning that happens over multiple hours or days, you might consider a blended approach that leverages the best of each delivery approach.

Done properly, eLearning excels at establishing baseline knowledge, skills, vocabulary and assessing whether learners came away with what they need. It's not as good for deeper dives into applied skills and real-world situations where there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, where context matters and where the real learning comes from things like peer discussion, expert feedback, role-play, or teamwork. This kind of learning benefits most from a live experience with peers and a seasoned facilitator.

So one option is to consider deploying eLearning to establish (and verify through assessment) baseline knowledge so the live session doesn't need to cover it, and reserve live webinars to cover the topics that really benefit (or require) engagement with instructors and peers. A blended design like this may require re-examination of your content and identifying sections lend themselves to elearning vs webinar, but the final product will result in better learning outcomes and more efficient use of everyone's time.

Tip #4: Use The Right Facilitators

We've all been in remote meetings and training where the presenter or instructor was a SME with insufficient energy and/or remote delivery skills. It's hard enough being a strong presenter/facilitator in-person - it's even harder using virtual platforms where we're apart yet confined to screens and mics. So if you've gone ahead and created a great new webinar or presentation, you've got to do it service with an instructor/presenter who 1) has good energy and presence virtually, and 2) who is fluent in using the delivery platform - or even better, has the support of a second instructor/producer who can run the technical side of the session allowing the instructor to focus on delivery/facilitation. A luxury for some but it can make a big difference.   

Whatever you do, don't...

The worst thing you can do is simply take your current program and drop it into a Zoom session - that just doesn't work. You'll lose the learners and with them the outcomes you were hoping for. Take the time to do it right and it will pay real dividends.

Stay healthy everyone...
Colter Team