Rework Online Training Part 4: Design for Attendee, Student, or Participant Outcome

fractalIn the Design the Webinar Experience post, I said breakout rooms take longer.

It's not just breakout rooms. Everything online takes longer. People need time to synch online that differs from in-person synchronization. (I'll talk more about this when I talk about designing interactions.)

That's why I think differently about what I want in each of these buckets:

  • Workshop pre-work
  • Which content is synchronous with the participants.
  • Which content is asynchronous. (Homework, for example.)
  • Which content requires interaction, and in what form.

I think about who I want in my workshops: attendee, student, or participant.

When I think about attendees, I can offer content with no limit. When I think about students or participants, I often need to limit the size of the experience.

When I think of the various buckets of work, I decide which form I want the content to take (self-study, self-paced, group-study).

I want to design for attendee outcomes (regardless of the kind of attendee).

Let's first discuss self-study workshops.

Self-Study Workshops Require No Synchronous Work

A self-study workshop helps people learn a particular skill. Unlike webinars, self-study workshops are asynchronous. People register alone, and they rarely see the other people who take the self-study workshop.

In my experience, the more focused the skill, the more likely people are to start and finish the workshop.

My experience with self-study workshops bears out my expected results:

  1. The less money you charge for the workshop, the more people register. The fewer of those people watch any of the videos. Even fewer people finish.
  2. The more focused the workshop, the more money (within reason) you can charge. The fewer people register. More of these people finish the workshop.

That means “all” you need to do is create asynchronous content.

This kind of workshop requires the same prep as an in-person workshop. Because you don't offer interactions, you create the same content. With one important exception: no interaction between the students and no interaction with you.

The students work through the material at their own pace.

Let me discuss how you might refer to the people interacting with your content: attendee, student, participant.

Are you Aiming for Attendee, Student, or Participant?

When I started to write this series, I realized I have assumptions about the people who interact with my material.

In webinars, I assume I have attendees. If I'm lucky, I engage the people with my delivery, and maybe some of my content.

I happen to love speaking, so I see this as a challenge. I tell stories. I offer a vision of the future.

I ask for questions during the webinar. I do this for several reasons:

  • I want to offer the attendees a chance to ask me questions as soon as the question occurs to them.
  • I want attendees to catch a breath and integrate some of what I said.
  • I want to take a sip of water so I'm ready physically and mentally for the next bit of the presentation.

I don't understand people who ask for questions at the end. That's me. I have been known to say, “Hey, I didn't even pay you for that great segue to the next topic. Thanks!” Or, “I'm almost ready to start that topic. I need to set the context just a bit. Hang in there for another slide.”

I can try to move people from attendee to participant. I don't expect to do so.

Students are people who want my content and engage with it on their own. That's the asynchronous part of the self-study workshop.

I can hope students ask me questions. However, I don't think of them as participants, unless they choose participation.

I invite students to become participants when I create some form of interaction with other people. More on that later.

Students Practice Alone in Self-Study Workshops

As a contrast, when people take the self-study workshops, I assume they are students. They choose how and when to interact with the material.

I ask people to do homework for the self-study workshops I offer, and I have low expectations.

I think of these people as more engaged in the material than attendees. But not as engaged as participants.

I suspect it's about their expectation of how they will practice.

Participants Practice in Self-Paced or Group-Study Online Workshops

As I write these posts, I realize I offer two kinds of participant-oriented online workshops: Self-paced and group-study.

I ask participants in either kind of workshop to complete pre-work and weekly (or interim) homework. I can gauge (a little) their interest in the material when I receive their pre-work and homework. That's why I ask for interim homework.

For example, I run my writing workshops as self-paced with pre-work and homework. I'm the only one who reads the participants' writing. (Too many people don't know how to offer feedback about writing. They criticize or critique, which is not good for new writers.)

So far, the leadership workshops I offer are group-study. The participants have a chance to exert peer pressure on each other to do the work.

The series:

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