7 Synchronous Training Strategies For 2017

The Synchronous Training Strategies You Need In 2017

With the ability to stop, go, and skip using the plethora of on-demand learning options today, synchronous training will have to step up if it expects to maintain market demand in 2017. But as noted by Christopher Pappas, Founder and CEO of The eLearning Industry’s Network, there are some advantages to the synchronous approach. This includes the ability to provide immediate feedback, foster a sense of community, and potentially increase motivation. In fact, research conducted by VitalSmarts on their synchronous virtual trainings showed that “86% of participants rated the training ‘just as engaging as’ or ‘more engaging than’ traditional classroom training”. So how do you reach this level of engagement with your synchronous trainings? Here are 7 synchronous training strategies to get you there:

1. Change The Modality Often 

Whether it be shifting to a different slide format or turning to participants to ask a question, modalities need to change often to keep attentiveness high. For instance, Cindy Huggett, writer for the Association for Talent Development, suggests “interactive engagement every four to five minutes” when training virtually. This will not only improve the participant experience, but allow for a wider spectrum of learning approaches.

2. Use The Drawing Tool 

Most eLearning software permits trainers –and often times participants– to draw on a whiteboard. Doing this can increase engagement, but perhaps more importantly, improve learning comprehension. Jolene Rowan, Vice President of Instructional Design and eLearning for Dashe & Thompson, explains that “When drawing, we engage ourselves in all four learning modalities at once, increasing our ability to remember and apply the knowledge by 30%.” Rather than finding ways around the drawing tool, start seeking ways to incorporate it into every activity possible.

3. Tell Them How To Respond 

It happens all the time. The instructor asks participants “What do you think of this principle?”, yet offers no direction if they should chat, select the ‘hand raise icon,’ or speak up. From the very onset, it is critical that trainers clearly show participants how they expect them to respond. This will help by (1) giving participants the ability to engage in the classroom and (2) by minimizing anxiety when questions arise.

4. Let Participants Teach 

Richard Rusczyk, author of The Art of Problem Solving, assertions that “The best test of whether or not you really understand a concept is trying to teach it to someone else”. To ensure participants fully grasp a concept, have them try teaching it. This can take place during breakout sessions, in chat pods, or even facing the virtual classroom. Accountability will immediately increase once participants know they will have to share their skills too.

5. Choose A Spokesperson 

Everyone can relate to the awkwardness of having an instructor call on your group, yet no one speaks up. The surefire way to resolve this is by asking groups beforehand to choose a spokesperson. In Reg Dennick’s book, Small Group Teaching: Tutorials, Seminars, and Beyond, he gives the example of saying “Please nominate a spokesperson to feed back the best and worst example you came up with in your group”. This simple instruction takes less than 10 seconds to do, but ultimately saves you countless time of dead air.

6. Create Pre-Session Activities 

Training begins the moment participants set foot in your virtual classroom. As they enter, you can have polls, chat questions, or a background video going to immediately set the tone for the session. Also, as one ATD writer points out, “This sort of interaction helps learners stay online until the session actually starts - instead of straying away to check email and Facebook”.

7. Hire A Good Producer 

We all want our sessions to have more time devoted to teaching and less time resolving “where the dropdown icon is”. A solution for many synchronous trainings is to hire a producer for technical support. Best practices include managing the participant chat, troubleshooting internet/audio issues, and serving as a backup for the facilitator. The benefit of smooth trainings and well taken care of participants will far outweigh the costs associated with this service.

Final Word 

When it comes to synchronous virtual training, clients are expecting a unique experience; one that adjusts to the needs of learners, is lively, accountable, and communal. They are not expecting an ad hoc webinar that could have been summarized in an electronic handout. By deciding to eliminate the mediocre and adjust your synchronous trainings to include these strategies, you will quickly find that 2017 has more demand than on-demand alone.

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