Good news. I’ve successfully completed my Certified Online Training Professional Certificate. I want to share my experience with all of you if you are considering getting this valuable certification.
The first thing that surprised me was that there were three facilitators. I’ve never thought about this before, but there is a distinct advantage to have several facilitators in an online course. Each brings their style to the table, and it was enjoyable to hear that variety throughout the two-day session. Each instructor gave us what they called their elevator pitch, which added credibility to the course and their delivery. That was one of the things they taught us to do. It doesn’t take long, maybe thirty seconds to explain who you are and why you are running this online course. The facilitators were Kevin Siegel, Jennie Ruby and AJ Walther. Upon hearing each introduce themselves, I knew I was learning from real experts. An expression that Kevin used early on the first day
The first thing that amazed me was there were three facilitators, including Kevin Siegel himself. I knew Kevin was a dedicated training professional, but it surprised me that the founder of ICCOTP would take time out of his busy life to teach this class. The next facilitator was Jennie Ruby. I enjoyed Jennie’s facilitation style, and I learned much from her. A brief highlight was AJ Walther. AJ was responsible for the training related to PowerPoint and visual design. AJ surprised me in that I was not expecting to learn anything new in the area of visual design, but AJ had some excellent knowledge to impart.
I’ve dozed off in train the trainer sessions that promised to teach us techniques to keep learners engaged – not so with this trio. They used the very same principles they were teaching us in their delivery. Kevin, Jennie and AJ kept us fully engaged. An expression that Kevin used early on the first day was that they ate their cooking. They were teaching us the very same principle they used throughout the class.
Online training is often inadequate or inferior because the facilitator lacks the knowledge and experience to deliver it well. One of the critical takeaways of this training for me was dispelling the myth that online training is always inferior to classroom training. Kevin took a dozen or more classroom activities that we think of as exclusive to the classroom and showed us the online versions that are just as effective. I now not only feel better prepared to deliver improved online training but can defend the reputation of online training as well.
Next, AJ took over and taught us how to transform our materials to be more appropriate for online. AJ had a great alternative to bulleted text that I will use in my online facilitation. I think I can adapt these concepts to my eLearning design as well. We were taught a great deal about implementing the organizations branding into the design of learning materials. AJ had some great examples of the use of iconography. I was so inspired by what AJ showed us that I changed the entire online facilitation that I had planned for day two. More on that later. I think the biggest takeaway was that PowerPoint isn’t just this software from the 90s anymore. Microsoft has been continually updating PowerPoint. AJ was able to share some great new features to help us make our training presentations look fantastic.
We started day two, and Kevin and Jennie taught us the importance of the right technology. I thought I would be bored with this segment because I feel pretty good about my current knowledge of technology. Again, I was surprised that I learned a bunch of things that I will be considering adjusting to my hardware and software lineup. It isn’t just about spending more money. When you think about the potential earnings from online training, a few hundred extra dollars here and there to have some backups to your technology is too outrageous.
Jennie took over again, and we learned about the differences between talking and speaking. We learned that training should be conversational. Jennie provided us with some excellent skills to take highly technical speak and turn it into more everyday language that is easier for your audience to understand.
Whether you are just getting started with online training, or if you’re like me and have been doing it for years, this program is excellent. I’m a big believer in having the credentials to prove to the decision-makers that you have the skills to do the job. As a freelance trainer, I’m certain this will lead to more repeat customers and a greater sense of satisfaction from my clients. If you work for an organization, this program will lead to improved training evaluations from your students and a happier manager.
Imagine if you only had the knowledge and skill levels that you contained immediately after college or university? I dare say you would be professionally out of date. As learning and development professionals, we often expound the benefits of continuous improvement, but we seldom take this advice ourselves. About once per year, I put aside time to “sharpen my saw” as Stephen Covey would put it in his highly successful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Classroom and online facilitation are two very different things. I’ve learned first hand that many of the visual cues you get standing in front of a class of students often don’t exist in an online setting. For example, in a classroom, it’s easy for a skilled facilitator to pick up on facial reactions when the students require further clarification. Also, different facial reactions can let you know when students experience the “ah-ha” moments. In a classroom, a skilled facilitator can use these cues to transition to the next topic, reinforce key points, or ask students to share their thoughts. In an online setting, learners don’t always share their webcam with you. You can’t see how engaged they are or see those aforementioned facial reactions to what you are teaching. Not having this and other advantages of the classroom are something that I’ve found challenging about online facilitation.
I’ve selected to become certified by the International Council for Certified Online Training Professionals or (ICCOTP). Their Certified Online Training Professional Certificate gets me a certificate, a badge to display on my website, and my name added to the listing of council members. All of these items are great, but honestly, my biggest motivation to complete this certification is to improve my skills as an online trainer. While I think my training sessions and webinars are good right now, I think they could be better. I like the fact that upon completion of the certification, the assessment will be a live proficiency exam where I present a 10-minute lesson delivered in an online format. I will have to apply the skills learned during the training to be successful, rather than simply answering a series of multiple-choice questions.
I’m scheduled to begin the two-day online course starting August 21st, 2019. In part two of this article, I will share my key takeaways from this course as well as my recommendation as well.
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