6 Questions You Should Ask Before Designing Virtual Classroom Training

by Darlene Christopher on July 31, 2014

questionsOften when someone comes to me with questions about how they should design content and interactivity for training delivered in the live virtual classroom, my answer is “it depends.” Much to their disappointment, there is no simple response.  There are, however, several key factors that influence how participants will engage with your content, your facilitators and each other.  Before you put on your instructional design hat, put on your detective hat and get answers to these six questions:

1. How will audio be transmitted?

There’s a reason why this is the first question. Audio transmission heavily influences your design choices. Typical audio options are conference call, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) or a combination of the two. Additionally, you’ll need to know if audio will be two-way where both facilitators and participants speak or one-way, where facilitators speak and participants are in listen-only mode.

2. What is the setup of the participants’ learning environment?

You’ll want to know how the participants will join your session. For example, will they be at a desk in a noisy environment, in a conference room with other participants or will they be at home joining on their iPad?

3. How much experience does the facilitator have with virtual classroom training?

The comfort level of the facilitator impact the level of complexity of your design. For example, a novice facilitator should not be using breakout rooms, while an experienced virtual classroom facilitator can handle this type of interaction.

4. How much experience do participants have with virtual classroom training?

Participants who are familiar with learning in a virtual classroom environment may be a much more demanding audience than those who are relatively new to this method of learning. Find out as much as you can about participants and their expectations.

5. Who will help the facilitator deliver the content?

Ideally a facilitator should always partner with a producer to successfully manage the virtual classroom environment. The producer handles the technical components of the virtual classroom, while the facilitator focuses on content. This extra set of hands opens up a wide range of interactivity that the producer can support.

6. Is the virtual classroom training part of a blended solution?

A great way to use the virtual classroom is to weave virtual sessions into a bigger program that may contain in-person training or asynchronous discussion. The design of all components of a blended learning program should complement and reinforce each other.

Armed with answers to these key questions, you be in a much better position to design interactions that are appropriate for your virtual classroom session.  



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