Transitioning Instructor-Led Training to the Virtual Classroom
Making the transition from live, instructor-led training to virtual instructor-led training can be done easily, with the result being a positive learning experience for both instructors and students. When compared to a more static, one-way model of online instruction, live, virtual instructor-led training is remarkably similar to the live classroom experience. Available technology allows for the same level of interaction and collaboration, live discussions, breakaway sessions, and more; in short, nearly anything that can be done in a live classroom can also be done in a virtual one.
The two main elements of making the transition to a virtual instructor-led training environment are preparing the students and the instructors for the transition, and making the technological transition itself.
Preparing Students and Teachers
The idea of moving from the security and comfort of the classroom to a virtual environment may at first be intimidating, and so it must be approached gently, with the following in mind:
- Reassure students and teachers that the same level of interaction will be available in the virtual classroom as it was available in the physical one.
- Teachers should maintain office hours as before, making themselves available for one-on-one contact both for face-to-face meetings, as well as virtual one-on-one sessions via instant messaging.
- Ensure that all participants are familiar with the virtual classroom technology platform so that they can comfortably participate without worry. Create a brief tutorial on the process and technology of the virtual classroom process if necessary.
In addition, it will be necessary to ensure that students have adequate technology. Most virtual classroom sessions are delivered via a web interface or a thin client, so it will work on most computers. If video feeds are being used, participants will require a broadband connection. If students lack broadband, the session must be presented in a less bandwidth-intensive manner. Instead of video feed, a basic PowerPoint presentation may prove to be more useful in this case, in conjunction with a phone bridge connection.
Making the Technological Transition
The technology of delivering virtual instructor-led training starts with evaluating the present physical classroom experience and ensuring that the virtual classroom is able to deliver the same or better. If for example, your physical classroom often breaks up into smaller groups for projects or discussion, you can achieve the same effect with breakaway session functionality on many virtual learning platforms.
The transition can be made quickly, especially if you are choosing to use a hosted system and do not need to deploy extensive equipment in-house. Even if you do plan to host your own sessions, initial use of a third-party hosted service may give you an opportunity to get up and running quickly and provide a “test run” of your virtual class before deploying the equipment in-house.
Prior to the first live virtual session, the instructor should do a complete run-through to ensure that everything is working as it should, including the phone bridge or VoIP connection, any presentation display, and video feeds.