5 Habits of Highly Effective Virtual Classroom Facilitators

by Darlene Christopher on May 18, 2015

exerciseThe demand for training delivered via live virtual classroom continues to grow. How can facilitators ensure this type of distance learning is effective and get learners eager for more? Here are five things you can do to become a better live virtual classroom facilitator:

1. Master Your Virtual Classroom Application

In order to develop interactive and engaging training in the virtual classroom, the facilitator needs a good understanding of the features available in the virtual classroom. While virtual classroom applications like Adobe Connect and WebEx offer similar features, they also have differences, which the facilitator needs to understand in order to weave the features into the delivery of the training. For example, the facilitator may choose to use the anonymous chat feature in Adobe Connect when she asks participants to share something personal, then switch to regular chat when shifting to topics that are more procedural.

2. Partner with a Producer

Partnering with a strong producer is a great way to improve your overall virtual classroom delivery because you can split tasks. While your producer focuses on the technical aspects of the classroom, you focus on the delivery of the content itself. It may take some time to get used to working with a second person, especially if you are used to working alone in the traditional classroom, which leads to the next habit below.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

Set aside time to rehearse your virtual classroom training, especially if you are new to this method of delivery, delivering new content or working with new team members, such as a producer. First, rehearse with the delivery team, and then rehearse with a mock audience. Rehearsing your session gives you a chance to get used to the virtual classroom features, ensure your content is properly sequenced, make sure roles are clear, and fine-tune the timing of your session.

4. Make Up for the Absence of Body Language

A strong virtual classroom facilitator knows how to overcome the absence of body language by adjusting facilitation techniques and maximizing the interactive features of the virtual classroom. Gesture while you speak, even if you are not using a web cam to add vocal variety and help emphasize key points. Use the annotation tools such as the pointer and drawing tools to point to a topic on a slide as you speak about it or circle a trend line on a graph as you discuss it. Finally, check in with learners regularly during a session to see if they are keeping up and are engaged. Ask learners to use the instant feedback feature and select “agree” if they are ready to move on or “disagree” if they still have questions. Poll participants and ask them to vote on which topics of the subject matter are most important to them, then discuss the topics that get the most votes.

5. Engage Learners Continuously

Keep your participants engaged by interacting with them every few minutes to ensure temptations like email and web surfing are kept in check. Weave a variety of interactivity into the delivery of your content such as polls, chat, whiteboarding exercises and small group work in breakout rooms. Designing this type of interactivity takes time (to develop the exercises and supporting content) and practice (to deliver it smoothly with clear instructions), but you will be rewarded with engaged learners and maximize learner transfer.

Improving the learner’s ability to apply the behavior, knowledge and skills acquired in the virtual classroom to their job, is, after all, what the fuss is all about.

What techniques do you use to facilitate effective virtual classroom training?

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For more ideas on how to design and facilitate interactive and engaging live online learning download a free chapter of The Successful Virtual Classroom.

 

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