*Originally published on CEPro.com
As most educators have shifted to online learning platforms, integrators should embrace the trend. By following a few simple guidelines, anyone can host an excellent online training session.
Participation in online trainings, webinars and e-learning courses has been growing over the past few years, but the advantages are now more tangible and more important than ever.
As in-person trainings and workshops were postponed or cancelled for the foreseeable future amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, online training very quickly became a necessary component of companies’ engagement strategies. Even as local economies begin to reopen and as people return to work, we can expect virtual trainings to continue in an effort to protect employees and to accommodate those who may not yet be comfortable attending meetings in-person.
In the next several weeks, as we enter into the next phase of the response to the pandemic, virtual learning will offer a unique opportunity for employees to sharpen their skills and prepare for a new work environment – and to do so from a safe social distance. With understandable “virtual fatigue” taking hold, there are three key measures companies should implement to continue keeping employees motivated and engaged during online trainings, such as live or on-demand trainings or webinars and e-learning courses.
#1: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Technical
The content of any online training is by far the most important, as it drives the session and ensures participants walk away with the desired outcome. To really make an impact with online trainings, make sure the content is highly relevant, that it provides employees with the resources they need to grow within the organization, and that it’s mindful of their time and skill level. This might make the content more technical and specific to a particular audience, but this is the level of detail participants are seeking.
Real-life examples and interactive scenarios are a great way to ensure relevant e-learning content. Highlighting the benefits of new solutions and application techniques gives employees an opportunity to improve their on-job performance.
With staff at home, now is an ideal time to integrate more hands-on virtual trainings. With on-site installations on hold, employees can focus on improving their installation techniques while in their own homes. Working with new systems or devices will allow them to expand their knowledge and also gives them more first-hand experience to relate to customers.
#2: Engage Participants Before, During and After the Training
Making webinar attendance mandatory can ensure full participation, but it doesn’t guarantee that participants are actively engaged. There are a few ways you can increase engagement before, during and after online trainings.
Before inviting employees to a session, reach out to them to see what topics they would like to see covered. Not only does this enhance the training, but it shows the values of employees are recognized, which can in turn encourage active participation.
Open the training with an interactive exercise, such as encouraging attendees to set goals on how they can improve or outline reasons why they are participating. Referring back to this exercise and having the participants check in on their initial objective throughout the training helps to maintain their level of engagement.
At the end, employees should review their goals to see if they were met. By setting and accomplishing goals, employees will be able to see the value of the training and will see future training sessions as a way to benchmark their performance and growth.
Of course, always leave plenty of time at the end for a Q&A session. To get the ball rolling, ask for questions in advance and throughout the session to make the process more efficient. If time runs out before all questions can be answered, encourage employees to email their questions afterwards.
To continuously improve future training sessions, it’s best to solicit feedback immediately following the training session. A successful method for collecting input is with an emailed survey allowing the employees who participated to evaluate the most and least helpful parts of the session, and what they’d like to see in future sessions. When providing feedback, it also gives employees time to reflect on what they learned and how to use those learnings moving forward.
#3: Make it Enjoyable
A training session can be a convenient opportunity to give employees a break from their busy schedule. Even with relevant, engaging content, there are several tactics that can ensure training sessions are enjoyable for participants.
It’s been suggested that distractions of about 20 minutes throughout the day can help to reset focus, so whenever possible, keep sessions short and simple. Break down the training to multiple sessions over the course of a few days to serve as an alternate activity to more traditional work. This can also help make the information easier to retain.
Gamification is a growing trend in virtual engagement that can make training sessions enjoyable and engaging, and it can add an element of friendly competition among employees. The content of the training itself can be built into an interactive game that participants move through at their own pace. Or, with the information fresh in their minds, finish training sessions with a creative game or quiz.
To encourage full participation, offer an award to incentivize passive observers to become more active. This can help boost knowledge retention and motivate employees to be more active in future sessions.
Online training will continue to be an important tool for interacting with employees and customers as we all adapt to new ways of working. While participation in e-learning courses and webinars may soon start to dip off, implementing these tactics can help your company develop a successful, lasting online engagement strategy.