April 28th, 2016 E-Learning

I have found that there are times when elearning is not the ideal method for training a large group of users. The natural alternative is live-training events (also known as instructor-led training).

However, those too have their limitations.

First, they are quite expensive. You will need to find a physical location for the training, instructors, logistics (such as travel and accommodations), equipment, printed materials, and more.

This adds up pretty quick.

Adding to the difficulty of instructor-led training is number and location of the target audience.

If you have thousands of people that need to be trained who are dispersed across the world then you will need a massive budget and about a year to get everything properly planned.

So what’s the alternative?

When faced with this scenario there is a third alternative that costs less than live training but can be more effective than elearning (depending on the execution).

That solution is virtual-led training.

Virtual-led training is its own animal to some degree. You have challenges that you normally don’t have when administering live training that have to be taken into consideration.

The infographic above (created by mclabs) details five critical success factors to virtual-led training initiatives.

You will notice an underlying theme across all the factors: preparation.

The same could be true with instructor-led training events, but for virtual training preparation is absolutely essential. In particular, you need to be adequately prepared to support the virtual learners (which is no easy task).

In my experience, I find that a combination of elearning and virtual-led training will yield the best results.

You can prepare learners for the virtual sessions by having short introductory elearning courses prior to the event. This keeps everything on-point during the virtual session so that there is little to no wasted time.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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G’day Justin

Enjoying reading and quoting your blog 🙂 Keep up the good work. Virtual Led Training is the latest term for something I was involved in back in 2003 and it was called then Multiple Venue Presentations or MVP’s. Let me share some lessons learnt. In 2006 I managed a live event where I invited one of the world’s thought leaders in online education from the University of London to share with Universities in Australia and New Zealand. Within an hour of the invitation email I had acceptance from 39 universities with Unis in Perth having breakfast around the event and Unis in NZ having lunch at the same event. It was a hoot. We had 380 participants in 41 different locations. Not bad for the technology of the time.

Each location had an average of 20+ participants and the “Meginar” was born 🙂 I worked really hard to make it interactive and participant centric and NOT a broadcast lecture. OK here are some of the lessons learnt – which actually support that infographic you use in this blog post:

1. Interaction is more effective if each location was lead by a team of at least two – a moderator and a producer. The moderator focused on the content and interacting with the presenter or SME (subject matter expert) and the producer focused on participant engagement the back channel type knowledge building going on, They are also working hard to stimulate interaction.

2. I actually asked this world famous higher ed professor to only deliver content for 10 mins max at a time. She had no problem with that and we had carefully prepared interactions presented to the participants and tabulated the responses by location.Engagement increased every 10 minutes I might add.

3. I ran three synchronous training events weeks before the “Meginar” for location leadership… there we learned and tried out teaching and learning activities for the day. Also a great success.

4. We had everything tightly time planned to ensure fairness of contribution … stopping academics sharing on a subject they are passionate about is not an easy task. 🙂

5. We structured in time for location specific learning tasks for discussion and feedback to the larger group. The actual presentation/webinar goes into idle for a predetermined time managed by a count down. All this worked well.

Technology has come a long way in 10 years but it is still …. all about the students or participants! Teachers need to focus on student centric interactive teaching and not lecture. The educational event needs to encourage participant feedback and manage the knowledge building. The “sage on the stage” has no place in these events … they need to become the “sage on the side” mentoring and facilitating learner participation.

I encourage teachers and learning designers to experiment with MVPs (aka Virtual Led Training) You don’t need expensive software platforms. You can use open source solutions e.g. Skype. What is needed is innovative and effective learning design and passionate moderators and producers…. the outcomes are worth the effort.


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