How do I create a virtual learning environment?
Unlike a face-to-face classroom, there are additional tools at your disposal when you create a virtual training environment. Each of these gives you the ability to train more effectively, flexibly, and with better results. Here are four key elements to incorporate:
- Train The Right Audience: Nothing is more frustrating than participating in a class where the instructor focuses on topics that apply to only some of the class and not others. Before finalizing the list of participants to a training session, make sure all have the similar basic needs, experience, and expectations or goals. If needed, break the class into smaller groups to ensure relevance for everyone involved.
- Include The Right Data: When it comes to sample data, there are two types of virtual training environments: those with preloaded content, and those without. If part of your training involves teaching users how to correctly enter data, you may want to provide a completely clean copy of your software…or with a sample entry they can look at and emulate in their initial tries. If the training is about manipulating or editing existing data, make sure to include a variety of samples of various types, so they can see multiple permutations and challenges they may face. Make sure to avoid using real-world data that may represent a privacy breach, and if clients enter their own real-world data, be sure to spin up new, clean versions on your virtual training environment software for the next trainee.
- Plan the Right Length, the Right Variety: A long session, no matter how stimulating, can trigger fatigue. While there is no universal “ideal” length for a training session, studies show that we experience attention lapses every few minutes while in an educational setting, and they get more frequent with time. That means an hour-long session in a virtual learning environment will be riddled with over a dozen moments in which each participant loses focus; with other distractions on the screen, it’s a common phenomenon easily missed by instructors. Breaking up training into smaller sections, with even brief breaks in between, can “reset the clock” on engagement. Incorporating unexpected questions, stories, examples, and even jokes can keep trainees listening and actively participating.
- Blend the Right Mix of “How-to” and “Hands-On”: While presenting the step-by-step workflow or overview of screens and menus in the UI is an important first step, handing over the controls to the trainees is a much more effective way for the experience to sink in. First-hand experience gives users the confidence that they can use the product correctly. Whether following your instructions, solving a challenge, or simply exploring the interface independently, virtual training environment software platforms provide this feature. The instructor can watch, correct, and share his or a trainees screen with others in the course, providing ongoing feedback.