7 Synchronous Training Strategies For 2017

Just using the webcam isn’t going to cut it this year. With more customized and flexible options available, synchronous training will need to highlight its advantages to stay in the marketplace. Learn the 7 synchronous training strategies you need to create the high engagement your clients deserve.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing

Web conferencing is about assembling people in a room and exposing them to content. It’s about workers learning what they’re supposed to learn –when they’re told to learn– and all according to the way you want to teach. For a time, that was enough. But people don’t learn that way anymore. Here is how the advantages that virtual classrooms have over web conferencing address the Virtual Classrooms Vs. Web Conferencing dilemma.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Benefits And Limitations Of Web Conferencing For Synchronous Learning

A Learning Management System can strengthen web-based training with social tools that ensure the learning doesn't stop when the webinar is over. Here are the benefits (and some limitations) of web conferencing for synchronous learning.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Reasons To Host An Online Training Event

Organizations around the globe, including countless Fortune 500 companies, are now offering online training events for your corporate learners. This can probably be attributed to the fact that it such an effective and engaging tool, particularly when it comes to dispersing knowledge to a distributed workforce. In this article, I'll share 7 convincing arguments for why your next training event should be online.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Synchronous Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Synchronous Learning In Corporate Training

Synchronous Learning has changed everything in the corporate online training environment. Synchronous interaction eliminates the isolation that asynchronous online training involves, as it promotes collaboration and fosters a sense of community. Especially in the corporate world, where effective team work among distributed workforce is considered of especially high value, synchronous learning can help eLearning professionals develop significantly engaging online training courses. But are there any hidden drawbacks to this practice? In this article, I'll share 10 advantages and disadvantages of synchronous learning in order to help you decide whether you should implement it and integrate it into your corporate online training strategy.

5 Synchronous Learning Advantages

  1. It is cost effective.
    You do want the best for your employees, don’t you? Imagine having the chance to provide them with knowledge from the best experts from around the world for their training, without paying the accommodation and travel expenses that traditional corporate training involves. Your employees can take their online training courses at home or at their offices while connecting not only with the most reputable trainers, but also with their colleagues who live in different cities or even different countries without having to move. The only costs you need to have in mind are those related to the development of the eLearning course, as well as the trainer fees.
  2. It is convenient.
    Taking an online training course without having to be in the same location with the rest of your peers, regardless of their position on the world map, provides a great level of flexibility, especially for large organizations that have a globally distributed workforce. Apart from videoconferencing, your employees are given the opportunity to participate in online discussions from any location, as long as they have an internet connection. As physical barriers of distance are eliminated, your staff may use any device for their online training, from desktop computers to mobile phones and tablets.
  3. Provides immediate feedback.
    Real-time interaction means instant feedback, and instant feedback allows not only your employees to immediately get their questions answered, but also trainers and instructors to immediately recognize difficulties in understanding of the online course material. Rapid feedback has an incredibly important role in eLearning; it enhances knowledge retention by keeping your audience active in the learning process, as a quick response allows your audience to learn from their mistakes and to eliminate the chances of repeating them in the future.
  4. It is highly motivating.
    A synchronous learning environment enhances learning by increasing your corporate audience's motivation levels, as real-time interactions are much more engaging than the isolated environment of asynchronous learning. Using performance goals in real-time activities is a great way to inspire your employees to demonstrate and develop their skills and abilities while competing with each other in engaging team player eLearning games. Real-time activities provide ongoing motivation, as they encourage participation from all employees, even the most reticent ones.
  5. Fosters a sense of community.
    Social interaction and collaboration are the essence of synchronous learning, as your employees have the ability to communicate not only with their trainers and instructors, but also with each other, no matter where they are located. Organizing a series of online group activities encourages team work and cooperation, as online discussions allow your audience to develop their learning community in online forums or in social networks and exchange ideas, questions, and concerns about the eLearning course material.

5 Synchronous Learning Disadvantages

  1. It is strictly technology-based.
    This goes, of course, for online learning in general; however, the truth is there are several large organizations, the employees of which may still lack sufficient computer skills in order to get their training online. This means that these people might struggle to engage in a synchronous online training program. Lack of technical knowledge, poor computer skills, and inability to handle the various technologies involved in synchronous learning may tremendously frustrate and discourage online learners, so high dropout rates might be expected.
  2. Demands a high speed internet connection.
    It is true that synchronous learning requires a good bandwidth, and this could be an issue when online training for distributed workforce is involved. Trying to synchronize several different areas in the world via collaborative learning technologies can be challenging, but different bandwidth capabilities may create serious problems.
  3. Local time barriers.
    Synchronous learning eliminates barriers of distance, but what about barriers of time? Different time zones can create communication challenges, as a synchronous learning course requires from both employees and trainers to be online at the same time. Distributed workforce has conflicting work schedules, and sometimes not even technology is able to facilitate real-time interactions.
  4. Requires careful planning.
    Speaking of conflicting schedules, as a consequence of the above disadvantage comes the challenging planning process that synchronous learning requires. Coordination of schedules is absolutely necessary, but sometimes not possible. To ensure full participation to an asynchronous learning course you need to carefully plan your online meetings; however, different time zones can lead to very limited time frames, which naturally weaken both the training group’s identity and the virtual community’s interpersonal bonds.
  5. It is challenging for employees with poor social skills.
    Studying at one’s own pace creates a sense of isolation, but some of your employees might crave this exact sense. A synchronous learning experience demands active participation and collaboration, and some members of your workforce might not be as social, as open, or as communicative. This is not a wrong thing by default; after all, you don’t need all of your employees to have strong communication skills, only the ones that are expected to work closely with others or to connect with customers. However, in a synchronous learning environment the “quieter” employees may find it challenging to participate in online discussions or online group activities, and learner frustration is never welcome in a successful online training program.

Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous learning, you may be interested in knowing more about how you can implement it in combination with asynchronous learning techniques and instructor-led classes. Read the article Tips To Use Blended Learning In Corporate Training and learn about the various blended learning models and how to utilize them in your next blended learning course.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 7 Tips To Be A Successful Webinar Host

How To Be A Successful Webinar Host

Connecting with your audience through a webinar goes beyond the capabilities of social media, your website, or your professional blog. It breathes life into your eLearning content, it generates trust between you and your attendees, and it offers you the opportunity to create new connections and form prosperous professional relationships. Needless to say, being the host of your own webinar means that you have complete control over its flow and outcome.

But is this something you can do? Would you be able to deliver engaging eLearning content and interact with your audience at the same time? Could you stimulate their curiosity, inspire them, and maintain their interest up to the last minute? Of course you could. In this article, I will share 7 tips on how to be a successful webinar host so that you can be sure that you feel relaxed and highly professional while you deliver a flawless, entertaining, and stimulating webinar.

  1. Pay attention to the sound.
    Audio
    is undoubtedly the most important element of your webinar. To make sure that everything goes smoothly, keep in mind the following tips:

    1. Choose the right location. 
      Find a quiet or, even better, a sound proof room to record. Furthermore, consider not using a wireless internet connection; instead use a land line, to avoid technical problems.
    2. Have a technical assistant. 
      Speaking of technical problems, keep in mind that during your webinar you need to be focused on delivering your content. Have an assistant who knows how to handle technical issues, if they occur, in real time.
    3. Use the right microphone. 
      Don’t rely on the built-in microphones in your laptop or desktop computer; use external mics. If your webinar includes multiple speakers, equip yourself with a high quality speakerphone.
  2. Practice, practice, practice.
    Don’t underestimate the power of practicing multiple times before going live; practice makes perfect. To make sure that your voice overs are effective, you will need to make sure that you remove every “uhm” and “err” from your vocabulary, and practicing will help you gain more speaker confidence. Ask for feedback as often as possible. Have someone to listen to you and offer you their honest opinion. Ask them to share one thing you did well and one you can improve. Is your vocal pace ok? Are you speaking clearly? How about your tone? Is it friendly or too serious and flat? Ask them to listen again and again while timing you, to make sure that you don’t end up having to rush through your last slides. Furthermore, consider recording yourself and reviewing the footage to see what is working and what is not.
  3. Start with a story.
    What is the best way to introduce yourself? Certainly not reading a long bio or a slide that lists your agenda; these are ways to rather ensure that you lose your listeners’ interest. Narrate a story; sharing your story and explaining what brought you there will establish trust and develop an emotional connection between you and your audience. Just remember to keep your story brief, personalize it with a few suspense elements, and conclude with a strong ending. A great trick is to also smile while you’re telling your story, as it helps elevate your voice; your listeners will be able to feel your enthusiasm about the online deliverable.
  4. Grab and hold your audience’s attention.
    The average attention span of a typical audience is about 10 minutes. Webinar audiences are worse; you are competing for their attention with their computer screens, their always open social media accounts, and their email inboxes. This is why it is important to not only grab their attention, but also hold it. Limit the text in your slides and avoid overloading them with bullet points. Instead, get your audience involved with an interesting mix of interactive questions, mini challenges and tasks, rich images, compelling videos, and even music.
  5. Maintain a conversational tone.
    Remember that you are talking to real people, not to a machine. Personalize your webinar by:

    1. Imagining that you’re speaking to a friend or colleague. 
      If you have, say, 150 attendees listening, you are actually having 150 one-to-one conversations. This may sound overwhelming, so try to visualize a friendly face you are talking to.
    2. Breaking your presentation up by using Q&A. 
      Q&As are a great way to maintain interactivity. No one wants to listen to one person talking endlessly, no matter how smooth is their voice.
    3. Addressing your audience by using “you” in your sentences. 
      Don’t say “Today I’m going to be sharing…”; instead say “Today you will learn…”. Don’t ask “Does anyone out there have a question?”; instead ask “Would you want to ask me something?”. Utilizing the word “you” makes your audience feel more engaged.
    4. Using humor. 
      Don’t be afraid to throw in a funny comment; just be sure that your humor is politically correct and relevant.
  6. Use interesting real facts and examples to support your message.
    Hearing real life experiences and thinking of how to apply the same solutions to one’s life is one of the most effective ways to learn. Filling your webinars with multiple boring graphs and figures will not captivate your audience; using real world scenarios, case studies, and examples will. Real success stories, research, and beautiful infographics that back up information are great ways to support your message and help it get across. Explain why certain strategies work and others don’t using real facts and make sure that your audience will want to remember everything you are talking about.
  7. Remember that your voice is the connection.
    Of course you will need to make pauses while you’re talking. Use them, but keep them short; don’t allow more than 2 or 3 seconds of silence, otherwise your audience might think that they have lost their sound. And if you are to be silent, let your listeners know. For instance, when you want to give them some time to read something, tell them “I will now let you read a few lines about…”.

Webinars are here to stay. Follow these tips on how to be a successful webinar host and be sure that not only you have complete control over this indispensable eLearning tool, but also your audience keeps coming back for more.

Now that you know how to be a successful webinar host, you may be interested in learning more about eLearning narration. Read the article 7 eLearning Script Writing Tips To Perfect Your eLearning Course Narrative and discover some invaluable tips that can help you create an eLearning course narrative that is powerful and polished.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Hosting A Winning Webinar: The Ultimate Guide

The Ultimate Guide To Host A Winning Webinar

Webinars offer a time-saving, cost-efficient, and highly effective way to keep learners in-the-know. To provide your audience with a valuable eLearning experience that gives them the key takeaways they need in the real world, eLearning professionals must take on the role of "host with the most".

Getting Ready For The Main Event

  1. Get familiar with webinar tools and technology.
    You don’t want to spend hours researching the subject matter, developing the eLearning content, and sending out invites only to realize that you don’t know how to use the webinar tools and technology. Not only do you need to know how to get the most out of the tools, but be comfortable using them when it’s show time. If you don’t know how to use screen casting or recording tools, your learners are probably going to notice. This can cause them to disengage from the eLearning experience and take value away from your overall eLearning experience. Take time to research the available tools and figure out which ones suit your needs, then learn as much as possible about their features and functions. Look for online tutorials or walkthroughs if you have issues, or take free online courses that are offered by the provider.
  2. Do a test run.
    Don’t wait until the last minute to log into the webinar platform. Do a test run well in advance to make sure you have all the tools you need and that all of your eLearning content is spot-on. In fact, you may even want to ask friends, family, or other members of your eLearning team to log into the platform and attend your “mock” webinar. Ask them for feedback, and have fun while you learn the user interface and controls. This will also help take the stress out of the main event, as you’ll already be used to the on-air experience.
  3. Setup a webinar-ready space.
    There are few things worse than attending a webinar where the presenter is distracted or background noise is constantly interrupting the eLearning experience. So, be sure to find a quiet spot that is free of distractions before beginning your webinar. In fact, try out a few different locations to see which one is best for your recording needs. You will also need to make sure your computer is ready for lights, camera, action. Close all unnecessary applications and have everything organized in one folder before you go live.

While You’re On-Air

  1. Mention the webinar hashtag and social media links.
    Give your learners ample opportunity to ask questions and participate in the online discussion by mentioning hashtags in the beginning. You can also create an online forum or message board specifically for the online learning event. You will be able to address their questions during the event and provide an immediate response for their commentary.
  2. Provide clear instructions.
    You may already be familiar with the webinar hosting platform, but your learners are probably new to the interface. Therefore, you should take the time to walk them through the various features and functions they will need during the online event. Let them know where they can ask or answer questions, or provide their responses to polls and surveys. Also, if they are able to offer audio questions or commentary, give them clear instructions on how and when they may do so.
  3. Always record the event.
    You should always record your live webinars. Not only will your attendees have the opportunity to reference the recording at a later date, but learners who could not attend can still access the information. The webinar may even become an integral part of your eLearning course, as it can help boost interactivity and learners’ engagement. Just make sure that learners’ personal data is not recorded, and that you include the text dialog or read key points aloud to bring future viewers up to speed.

After The Webinar

  1. Offer learners a parting gift.
    In addition to the recorded webinar, you may want to offer your learners a “souvenir” that they can take away from their online training experience. For instance, you can create a blog or webpage that includes all of the important concepts and ideas from the webinar, as well as links that you referenced during the event. Password protect the webpage so that only attendees can access the eLearning content. Another “parting gift” idea is giving them a discount on your upcoming eLearning course, especially if it’s related to the topics covered in the webinar. Don’t forget to ask them to sign up for your mailing list to receive notifications for upcoming online training events, and express your thanks for their time and participation.
  2. Listen to the recording.
    After you’ve held your winning webinar, listen back to the recording to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Do you need to slow down when you speak? Are there pieces of training content that you forgot to include? Do you need to work on your interactions with the audience? Is there an additional webinar tool that might make the online training experience even better or more interactive? You can use your notes to improve the webinar the next time around, so that future events run smoother and offer more value to your audience. You can also ask for feedback from your learners directly via online surveys and questionnaires, or even virtual interviews.

Webinars can draw in new learners and add more value to your existing online training courses. Use this guide to host a webinar that achieves learning objectives and bring more interactivity and collaboration to your eLearning deliverables.

Using an online forum to make your webinar more immersive and interactive? Read the article 10 Netiquette Tips For Online Discussions to discover 10 top netiquette tips that can make this online experience more beneficial for you audience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 10 Synchronous Learning Best Practices For Instructor-Led Training

Synchronous Learning Best Practices For Instructor-Led Training

Designing instructor-led online training experiences can be a time consuming and stressful process, primarily due to the fact that there are so many elements that must be integrated to achieve the desired performance goals and objectives. The good news is that below you will find a list of synchronous learning best practices for instructor-led training that can help you design, develop, and implement an amazing online training experience for your audience.

  1. Develop a set of rules and expectations beforehand.
    Employees must be aware of what is expected of them during the online training event. For example, how much they will be asked to participate and how they are expected to communicate with their corporate trainer(s) and colleagues. In addition, you may also need to stress the importance of a distraction-free environment. For instance, you can ask them to resist the temptation to check emails or instant messages during the online training, or encourage them to access the online training event in a quiet room.
  2. Opt for stories and activities instead of text-heavy presentations.
    The key to a successful instructor-led online training event is to keep it “text-light” and “activity-heavy”. Include plenty of stories, scenarios that offer real world benefits and activities that encourage employees to interact with you and their colleagues, so that they feel as though they are in control of their own online training experience. Try to steer clear of lengthy lectures or text blocks, so that they are engaged and motivated to absorb the information, rather than running the risk of boring them.
  3. Refresh their engagement every 5 minutes.
    Every 5 minutes you need to draw your audience back into the online training experience. They may be dealing with distractions that they have absolutely no control over, or they will start to think about all of the items on their to-do lists. To keep them engaged and interested, you need to pique their interest or remind them of the benefits of learning the subject matter every few minutes. To direct their attention, pose questions that make them reflect upon the topic or ask them to complete an online activity.
  4. Encourage employees to ask questions and share insights during the online training session.
    Let employees know that they are free to ask questions or share their thoughts during the online training event. In fact, you may even want to periodically address specific members of your audience by name and encourage them to offer their feedback or insights within the comments section or chat window, or tell employees that they can leave their questions in the comments and you will answer all of them at the end of the online training session. They need to know that there is a support system in place and that any pressing concerns or questions will be addressed at some point.
  5. Stress the importance of employee participation.
    Prompting employees to participate helps them to feel as though their input truly matters and that they are valuable members of the online training process. From time to time, take a moment to remind them that their participation is a necessary part of the process and that they will get the most out of the online training experience if they truly interact with the content.
  6. Divide employees into small groups to boost collaboration and interaction.
    Divide your audience into small groups of 2 or 3 employees and ask them to complete an online training activity or hold an online discussion. This allows them to collaborate and benefit from one another’s personal experience, while giving every employee the chance to offer their input without feeling judged. This is especially the case for employees who may be more hesitant to participate in larger group settings.
  7. Fine tune your tone and pace based upon employees needs.
    Your tone, pace and narrative voice should correspond to the needs and background of your employees. For example, if you are working with a group of experienced professionals, you may typically use more industry specific jargon and be able to cover more ground in a smaller span of time than if you were dealing with new hires. Regardless of your audience, however, you will want to speak clearly, with enthusiasm, and a steady pace, so make sure you don’t rush through the online training content.
  8. Learn as much as possible about the tools you have at your disposal.
    Research the eLearning authoring tools and other tools that you have on hand and figure out beforehand how to use them most effectively. For example, if you are using a Google App to host your virtual instructor-led corporate training event, you will want to learn as much as possible about its features and go through a test run to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
  9. Remember that less is more in the world of instructor-led online training.
    Ideally, you want to keep your online training class size as small as possible, to make sure that everyone gets a chance to participate. Ten employees is usually the goal, as it gives every member the opportunity to interact with you and to get the attention they need to develop their skills and assimilate information.
  10. Develop supplementary online activities to enhance the online training experience.
    Develop a list of links to videos, websites, or articles that employees can access if they would like more information about the topic. You can also design a downloadable handout that they can print at their leisure, if they prefer printed learning materials. This ensures that you cater to all learning needs, and gives every member of your audience the opportunity to benefit from your virtual instructor-led training session or event.

Keep these synchronous learning best practices on hand in order to create an instructor-led training session or event that offers employees the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build their skill sets and improve their on-the-job performance.

Want to learn more about potential benefits of a virtual classroom to your organization? Read the article 6 Tips To Design Interactive Virtual Classroom Training to get more tips on how you can successfully design interactive virtual classroom training.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.