Virtual training has brought many advantages to the lives of students, workers, and people from all walks of life. Because of the convenience and comparatively low cost, it makes it possible for people to gain valuable training where it was once unavailable. Besides traditional university and secondary school and corporate areas, virtual training can apply to nearly any area, from fitness, diet consultation, business, or even inspirational or spiritual sessions. Getting started with virtual training begins with the technology, but also requires attention to the actual structure and presentation of the virtual class.
Appropriate level of technology
When embarking on a virtual training program, the technology budget will make a big difference in what is available. Fortunately, even for those on a small budget, virtual training can be done with as little as some basic presentation software, a broadband connection, phone bridge and a hosted web conferencing service. For more sophisticated needs, organizations may spend more to host their own systems, and incorporate live video feeds.
Invitation—The first step
The initial step to conduct virtual training classes is the invitation. Even if you have informally relayed this information to students, sending a formal invitation by email is important, especially if the class is conducted across time zones. Many web conferencing systems include facilities for sending invitations, recording RSVPs and issuing reminders prior to the session.
To conduct virtual training classes successfully, it is important to ensure full participation. For this, timing and schedules become crucial, especially if students are located across time zones.
Your presentation and course content
Though it is a virtual classroom, the content should be conceived, formulated and crafted with as much care and caution as if it were for a conventional training session. If there are PowerPoint presentations, they must be made as simple as possible, keeping fonts large and clear and with no complicated animations. A synopsis of the content should be given to all the participants, to enable them to follow the training session.
All aspects of the presentation should be checked and tested before the actual class. This begins with the telephone lines, headsets and batteries. Though most web conferencing software will run a trial program during installation, it is better to run a full test of your own content before the actual presentation. This will reveal any glitches in the computer, like inadequate memory or the speed of the Internet connection; as well as flaws in your own presentation.
The session itself should not last longer than 90 minutes, as in a virtual classroom, the attention span is often an issue. One must conduct virtual training classes in a quiet environment, as noise tends to get magnified. There should be an effort to control all unwanted noise, be it rustling of papers, phone calls or the air conditioner. All the online connections through which the students join should be tested and checked beforehand. During the class, the trainer or presenter should ask questions periodically, to ensure that the participants are tuned in and attentive and also to make sure that they understand the proceedings.
Though the session should be focused on the subject matter of the training, there should be flexibility to allow for student queries and additional explanations. The class should wind up with some time on hand before the end, to throw it open for a question and answer session for all the students.