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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Is there too much TECH and not enough TOUCH in your online learning webinar? | My Webinar Guru

How to do a webinar online learning interaction engagementAs learning professionals, we care that people learn. We care that people enjoy the process of learning and that we make their lives at work better.  We are masters at how to get people to interact, how to get them engaged, and how to make it fun.  We are masters at making the learning really hit home by changing people’s lives, attitudes, and careers.
But somehow, when our training organizations suddenly found the travel budgets were cut and that webinars to replace traditional face-to-face learning, everything changed.  Almost overnight, great interactive face-to-face learning sessions were replaced by boring Death by PowerPoint webinar lectures.  Online learners hated them almost as much as the trainers.  We tried using a few tools and techniques to get our learners engaged, but they were only moderately successful, at best.  Suddenly, the joy of discovery and learning morphed into something that paled in comparison to its face-to-face alternative.
It does not have to be that way. There’s no question that webinar TECHnology does enable corporations to save significant time and budget.  But the only way to make that TECHnology effective for learning is when e-learning organizations learn how to create TOUCHnology in the live web conference classroom.
TOUCHnology is the art and science of adding the personal touch into online learning that makes it highly engaging, interactive, fun– and very effective for learning.  Transitioning from effective classes onsite to effective classes online is a substantial change in culture, attitudes, and skills.  If you’re e-learning webinars are failing, here are five actions you can take today to make them better.
  1. Redesign the content to engage online participants. Online learners do not want the same training that was developed for face-to-face delivery. Online learners want content that is been reformatted to keep them engaged in learning, despite all the temptations at their desktop.  To keep online learners engaged, TOUCHnology means the content has FIRE:  it’s Fast, Interactive, Relevant, and Engaging from logon to log off.  That means that online course designers that only need to master new technology, they have to be very adept at leveraging the interactive capability of that technology in the design of the course.
  2. Train the trainers to facilitate an engaging online course.  Trainers thrive when human communication in the classroom is robust. Those that are required to train courses online find themselves very frustrated, because their wonderful interactive course has become a boring lecture in a webinar. However, when trainers learn how to create interaction in the classroom that is at least as good as face-to-face, they embrace delivering training in a webinar that is engaging, interactive, and fun.
  3. Choose a very rich interactive platform that lets learners create and participate.  Some technologies have only two ways for participants to interact – polls and chat. Others have as many as 110 choices for eLearners.  Why are so many choices important? Think about when you were a child, and someone handed you a huge sheet of drawing paper. Did you want the box but just eight crayons, or would you rather have the box of 64 crayons with the pencil sharpener? Speaking for myself, I always wanted the 64, because they were fun, let me be more expressive, and unleashed the freedom to be creative. Now online trainers won’t choose to use all 110 choices in any training session.  But with so many fabulous choices, they can choose just the right ones to engage the group that were training.
  4. Build 30-45 changes in interaction activity for every one hour of training.  Every interaction in the webinar must be fast and highly relevant to the content.  To keep learners engaged, TOUCHnology demands a continuous stream of relevant interaction from the moment the session begins until it ends. Thirty changes in interaction per hour does not mean an endless stream of 30 WebEx polls. Instead, one interaction activity is to ask the learners to respond to your question by clicking on the green check button for yes and the red X button for no. If the trainer then calls on two or three people to explain their checkmark or X response, that is only one more interaction activity (getting a voice response from the three people).
Team teach every webinar, or at least have a moderator.  Leading a webinar alone is possible with a very small group. But if the group that your training has 15 or more people, a moderator or co-trainer adds very high-value for the learning experience. It’s tough to make sure everyone’s participating and conduct the webinar at the same time. There’s a lot going on, and the session is very fast. The moderator or co-trainer can monitor participation,  add annotations, and act as an extra set of eyes and ears to make sure that every learners needs are taken care of.
Don’t make the mistake to just take your face-to-face training and try to delivered online. For the best results and for the most spectacular webinars, take the time to do the work to do it right. When you do it right, your online learning will likely deliver results that are at least as good as face-to-face, and often better.

Is there too much TECH and not enough TOUCH in your online learning webinar? | My Webinar Guru

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