Online Training in a Virtual Classroom

Here is a short blog explaining what it’s like to deliver and experience training in a virtual classroom. COVID19 has set unprecedented challenges for businesses all over the world including business like ours who have had to adapt quickly to overcome the challenges presented.  In a very short space of time we had to transition from face to face delivery of courses and workshops to training in a virtual classroom. Several factors were at play when we were making key decisions about how best to make this transition:  

  • Could we transition smoothly ensuring the same level of quality and impact for our learners?
  • Could we temporarily transition our QQI programmes online and still maintain our commitment to Quality Assurance and good governance?
  • Did our team have the skills and abilities to make this transition quickly?
  • How would our programme content translate in a virtual platform?

Getting Online Off The Ground – The Power Of Teamwork

After weeks of planning, consultation, testing and troubleshooting we finally were able to say yes to all the questions above. We were confident that with some adjustments we could deliver fit for purpose training modules and workshops online to the same standards we have become known for.  This was a huge relief as we realised that we could support our clients to achieve their goals even during the COVID19 isolation period – this is a big deal for us and for our clients. For many people this is an ideal situation from a study perspective – after all being confined to home is a perfect opportunity to complete a course of study.   

Your Crew – Jim is on tech support, Janet & Martina alternating between training and monitoring

If we have learned one thing from this experience it’s that nothing happens without a team. Our contingency planning involved many all day and late night meetings working out what needed to be done and who would do it. We also had a strong support network within the business community – a couple of special mentions to Waterford Chamber who have literally given daily support.  Their information sessions and research updates have afforded us the time to focus on our core business – this has been a huge deal for us.  Special thanks also to QQI our certification partners – from day one they have provided directives and supports for providers; these supports include advice for contingency planning permission to deliver QQI courses online until the end of the year with an advisory that the change in mode of delivery should reflect existing QA standards and our governance code.

What Should Our Learners Expect?

100% Contact With Your Tutor

In redefining ways of doing things we took two things into consideration our target audience and training resources.  In the virtual online setting, time is measured and experienced differently. We have to consider the comfort and safety of learners to avoid body fatigue or eye strain.  Our current learners tell us that the training session goes fast and the levels of interaction are no different from those in a face to face classroom.  This doesn’t happen by accident.  We used our expertise to critically analyse every aspect of course delivery to ensure that learners are active for significant portions of the training.  Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft teams make this easy as there are inbuilt screen, video, whiteboard sharing mechanisms, and a host of other funky interactive tools available to trainers.  We’re mostly using Zoom but some companies are set up for Teams, Webex, Skype and we are open to delivering in whatever mode is required by our clients.  For single users and our one to one clients, the technology is user friendly and adaptable to any device.  You receive an invite link by email – click on the link and it instantly takes you to your training course.  Training materials and pre-course instructions are also shared via email.  Our groups are small, 12 people or less with the instructor delivering the full training session in person.  Learners enjoy the same level of interaction with the instructor as before and there are plenty of opportunities for interactive discussion, brainstorming, breakout rooms, and interaction with other class members. Here’s what one of our early online participants had to say about training:

“Just a brief note to congratulate you both on facilitating the virtual training sessions for the groups this week.  Personally, I found the process very user friendly,  and the content was as detailed and informative as in the ‘classroom’ environment.  In these difficult and uncertain times,  it is great to see that we have innovative measures to keep the wheels turning and our teams focused.  Well done again,  and looking forward to next week’s session”

And from one of our regular learners who was unsure about transitioning to online:

“While I was unsure how the usual class-based training would transfer to online, home-based learning, it has been for me a really enjoyable learning process. The interaction with Martina and the rest of the group is still there, even if we are not in the usual close learning environment  we would  have used in the past”

Back-Up Support

The one thing we have learned is that online training (especially with the current drain on internet bandwidth) needs to be supported.  It’s not just a matter of tuning in and assuming that everything will run seamlessly.  We have had a few issues with Zoom and our Internet service.  These services are stretched to the max right now so we carefully monitor everything – we can ensure our learners that there is a support team behind the scenes to ensure that any glitch in the system can be solved quickly and with minimal interruption. We are also there to help first-time learners access the training so that they can have an enjoyable experience. Here’s what one of our first time virtual learners had to say:

“Can I just thank you so much for a wonderful first day. I was wary of the laptop/virtual and now I have an excitement in me, I honestly feel so good and so looking forward to the rest of the course”

For more information on our online classes we are happy to take your call on 086 9587505 or alternatively you can email us at info@newlinkstraining.com