Things to consider when transitioning to remote learning

Anyone in learning and development will realise that there has been a very slow move towards learners learning remotely, whether online or offline, in earnest since the early 1990’s. One of the earliest topic or category areas to embrace remote learning methodology, generally eLearning, was compliance training as often this content is often repeated year on year, must be completed by everyone in an organisation (which can extend to thousands of people) and, as a business, you can prove to the necessary regulatory body how many people have completed it, by when and with what result.

In the late 1990’s remote learning became more popular as the introduction of the learning management systems allowed course materials to be shared, tests or assessment to be taken and facilitators/tutors and trainers to monitor progress.  The first to really embrace remote learning to a much wider audience were organisations that were already training all over the world such as the Open University, but remote learning was still seen as ‘better for some subjects than others’

However, roll on to March 2020 and it probably suddenly occurred to many, many Learning and Development professionals how many face to face courses still ran every day, in many hundreds of subjects, delivered by many thousands of L&D facilitators all over the world and suddenly, like a rug being tugged out rapidly from under our feet, we had to find another way.  

The short-term solution for most was ‘let us take the face-to-face course and simply transfer it into a VC’ and then there was a realisation that 8 hours of content with engaging activities did not necessarily or easily translate into the virtual classroom.

So what were the 7 nightmares we all faced?

1. Delegate engagement in live virtual sessions – how do you know if people are really engaged or are they also checking their phone and catching up with social media?

2. Participation in live virtual sessions – even in break out rooms the quiet learners become even more quiet than any face to face session. Add to this that in the virtual environment, the facilitator has the technological ‘jump’ between breakout rooms instead of being able to oversee and interact and even change the working groups for the next activity depending on level of participation.

3. Online facilitation skills. Many facilitators, trainers and tutors had only really delivered face to face with the occasionally summary VC to ensure knowledge had embedded or prevent delegates returning to a venue just to ‘present back’ to the group. The set of skills required for online facilitation is quite different.

4. Technology – zoom, adobe, teams, skype. Most facilitators, trainers and tutors are still on the back foot with technology not only for the delivery of materials but for cohort group communication and creating learning communities.

5. Attendance – how do you ensure attendance and how many sessions have you seen delivered where the delegates assumed it was a recorded webinar and had not prepared for any level of participation?

6. The known facilitator toolkit is redundant– The toolkit that every facilitator relied on from physical kit (marker pens, spare cables, have I enough post-it notes!) through to techniques of getting people involved, quiet learners to contribute and checking understanding in passing conversations over a drink and biscuit are redundant. As facilitators we are less worried as to our number of pens working to whether our microphone is working and whether we are well lit!

7. Getting feedback – is much more difficult, particularly level 1.  How do we make sure that we know how well we are doing?

At OnTrack we can ‘save’ your learning culture and enhance it to design, create and deliver learning that is informative, engaging and drives return on investment. Although we have phenomenal record of delivering in the face-to-face environment, we have also been delivering learning very successfully internationally by many different mediums and methodologies for several years.  We have experienced consultants with knowledge that spans a vast range of topics. Skill sets that include developing bespoke intricate and engaging eLearning, blended programmes that are renowned for getting the balance ‘just right’, embedding tools, video creation that will do anything from entice the learner to attend or pass on a whole skill in 5 minutes, developing bespoke learning to meet the specific needs of your business and even running large events, such as hackathons, to help change entire business cultures and behaviours. In other words, the 7 nightmares we have conquered for you and your business.

If your organisation is looking to implement Hybrid Working, we some helpful tips that you should use right now! Or are you ready to lead the shift to hybrid teams? Read our blog on hybrid working to learn more

So as a business what have we done? We have spent an awful lot less time travelling (as have our delegates) to far flung locations and so cut our carbon footprint. We have printed far less, or in many organisations no, ‘beautifully crafted’ but heavy on paper – workbooks and/or activity sheets and photocopied and laminated a whole lot less than ever before, so we are also saving the planet one less workbook at a time. And we have probably eaten less biscuits.