I bet you've been in a class or a workshop over the past few weeks. You were a “participant” in a class that ranged from 20-2000 people. You didn't find the class organization helpful. First, the trainer/leader lectured at you for an hour or more. Then, you got broken into working groups with too many people and not enough time to discuss a specific topic. You found that topic either not useful or needed much more time to discuss. The instructor tried activities—with less than stellar results. And, the instructor didn't debrief any of your discussions or activities at all well.
You didn't get what you wanted—or needed—out of the class.
After the training, you still had these concerns:
- You still have questions. You don't understand how things are supposed to work.
- The instructor didn't help you connect the ideas to your context.
- You have a special circumstance and you didn't get anything useful for your circumstances.
We can do better for online training.
I have not been able to take my existing in-person training and deliver it for an effective online experience. I can't offer the same outcomes when I do. We need to rework training for online success.
I'm starting this series of how I've modified in-person training to online training.
First, let's define some terms.
What Is Online Training?
When you see online training, you might see any of these words:
Many people use these words interchangeably. All these terms mean some imparting of information for another person's use.
Here's how I differentiate the terms:
- A class includes discussions, polls, or some other interactions.
- A workshop includes activities, often before and after a session in a multi-session workshop.
- A seminar might not include any interaction.
These are my definitions. (If you disagree, please let me know in the comments.) I'm defining them so we can all agree on what I mean for online or remote training.
Here are all the remote ways I've used imparting of information:
- Writing. You read my work, get an idea, and apply that idea to your work.
- Webinar. I speak and you listen. With any luck, you get an idea and apply that idea to your work. I rarely make these interactive, except with a poll.
- Public or custom private workshop. I create specific learning objectives for the workshop. I create content that uses interactions and practice so you can learn by doing. I might create pre-work. I break apart the content into real-time work together and in small groups. For a workshop longer than one meeting, I ask the participants to do homework.
My webinars sometimes look like classes, but that depends on the duration and the number of people I expect.
I rarely offer seminars.
If you think about the training you need or want to offer, how would you categorize it?
Wondering Why This Image?
I chose an image of a fractal for this post. In my experience, when we train right, people learn from the leader, from the material, from the activities and discussion. Most importantly, they learn from each other.