As virtual instructors, knowing how to use our virtual training platform is crucial. Every platform has its own unique capabilities. We also know that real learning comes from the collaboration between participants that an instructor fosters in the classroom.
The challenge is that technology can get in the way of real learning in the virtual environment. I’m not talking about technical challenges like login, audio, and computer failures. It’s when the virtual platform gets center stage instead of the content and participants.
We have to find a way to make the platform and technology fade into the background if we are going to get real engagement in the virtual classroom. Here are some tips to help you counteract the most common challenges we see:
1. Remember - you are teaching in a classroom
“Here’s what’s different about learning in our virtual classroom today.” I hear instructors say this all the time. Instantly, the participant starts comparing this experience with the face-to-face classroom. Words matter. They matter even more when you can’t see the other person. When you speak, you are creating an image in the participant’s minds. Remember that you aren’t on a “call” and you aren’t in a “Webinar.” You are in classroom conducting a workshop.
2. Focus on the learning, not the tool
Imagine you are in a face-to-face classroom. The instructor says, “I’m going to pick up this pen and walk over to the flipchart and write your feedback on the board. Then I’m going to ask you a series of questions.” This would drive you nuts as a participant. Don’t tell them the details of how to respond until they know the why. Get in the habit of giving them the learning purpose then tell them how to use the tools in the room to respond.
3. Limit the amount of time you teach the platform
I see a lot of clients putting two, three, and four slides worth of information about how to use the tools in the virtual classroom right at the beginning of a class. Yes, you do need to help everyone know how to use key functions like “chat”, “hand raise”, and “unmuting”. So many workshops and virtual presentations lose their participants right away with boring, disengaging reviews of the technical platform. What’s more important in this scenario - the participants or the platform? Do the instruction swiftly and in the moment as needed.