SWITCH TO DIGITAL LEARNING

The COVID-19 Coronavirus requires us to rethink how we train our employees and quickly adapt your corporate learning approach through digital alternatives from classroom-based training.

The relevant experience that I have gained in swiftly introducing a digital learning culture amongst 5000 employees with existing tools and how you can take advantage of that, I share with you below. You can additionally book a free 1-hour consulting call to discuss how these tips can be applied inside your organisation.

Quickly Starting with Digital Learning

The famous “low-hanging fruits” – that what you can do today already without getting budget approval or need to develop massive amounts of online content. The following digital learning formats can be implemented today using two tools: PowerPoint and Online Meetings (e.g. Skype for Business, Zoom, etc.). Should your company have neither, you can use Google Slides and Zoom.us both with a free, personal account. Perhaps not an ideal longterm solution (data privacy, etc.), however, it’s available globally today, is highly user-friendly and at no cost. Nothing that blocks you from trying these formats out in your organisation!

Webinar

Format: one-to-many teaching or interaction
Length: maximum of 30 minutes
Typical structure: 4-minute introduction, 10-minute teaching block, 5-minutes Q&A, 10-minute teaching block, 5-minutes Q&A, 1-minute wrap-up.
Trainer: subject matter experts, webinar moderation by an L&D representative
Preparing content: enable any expert in your organisation to create and host webinars, by providing instructions via a simple PowerPoint slide deck. Tell them what information is needed for each section of the webinar to address the needs of their audience correctly. Let the expert create a first draft and work together to reduce their content to 3 core messages. Let them create the story in the way they feel most comfortable with; even when it is not didactically correct. In a webinar, the expert must feel very comfortable with the story that he tells.
Preparing the webinar: people often shy away from asking questions during the webinar. That is why you let the expert create 5 “really dumb or provocative” questions that the L&D moderator can ask. Dumb, so that the first person asking will not feel like the dumbest person in the room; provocative to immediately address blocking points to create an authentic exchange. That way, you lower the threshold for all attendees to interact.
Dry-run: 3 days before you host the webinar, do a full 30-minute dry-run. At least one person that attends the dry-run should hear the content for the very first time and preferably typically has no understanding for the topic. This person is the ideal challenge to make sure that experts explain their topic in plain English. It also allows for coaching the expert to get them ready for the webinar.
Coaching the expert: many experts will not have done something like this before. Openly share your experiences as a trainer, including the fears you’ve experienced yourself and how you deal with that, to help build up their confidence.
Executing the webinar: ensure that you have excellent sound quality by having a stable internet connection and an external microphone (laptop microphones are horrible). Don’t type on keyboards and take off any jewelry that makes sounds when touching the table where the microphone is standing on. Put all webinar attendees on mute for them.
Let the moderator greet the audience, summarise what is in it for them in the next 30 minutes, including agenda, introduce the expert, and motivate people to ask questions via the chat.
During the Q&A session, the moderator asks the questions posed in the chat and motivates attendees to ask questions. If no one asks, the moderator should start asking questions to the expert to engage in a dialogue.
At the end of the webinar, inform attendees who they can contact in case they have additional questions. Optionally, you can tell them where they can find the recording of the webinar.
Enhancing the experience: creating interaction during a webinar is a challenge. You can engage your audience before the webinar by letting them do online voting (e.g. via mentimeter.com) on what topics they would like to discuss. If you feel brave enough, you can also do that during the webinar to get real-time interaction. Tip: use either multiple choice or free text and limiting it to 1 word in the beginning.

By recording these online sessions, you create digital learning material that can then be shared with the rest of the organisation as a future resource. That is the scaling effect at its finest.

Online Reverse Classroom

Format: online group exchange of 4 people + 1 facilitator
Length: maximum of 60 minutes
Typical structure: 5-minute introduction, 10-minute case study presentation by group 1, 15-minutes Q&A, 10-minute case study presentation by group 2, 15-minutes Q&A, 5-minute wrap-up with next steps.
Trainer: participants grouped in pairs of 2, moderation by an L&D representative
Preparing content: enable your employees to create and host online reverse classrooms, by providing instructions via a simple PowerPoint slide deck. Tell them what information is needed for each section to facilitate group learning. Create two groups of 2 people each. Let the group create the first draft and work together to reduce their content to 3 core messages where they teach the other group. The topic or content should be around applying new knowledge that they have learned in their daily routines and the challenges & successes they have experienced. The 10-minute case study structure could look like: 4 minutes describing the before situation (context), 3 minutes to discuss the challenges, 2 minutes to discuss the successes and 1 minute to discuss the current situation.
Let the group create the story in the way they feel most comfortable with; even when it is not didactically correct. They must feel very comfortable with the story that they tell to make this exchange successful.
Preparing the reverse classroom: people often shy away from asking questions during these exchanges. That is why the facilitator needs to be well-versed in facilitating exchanges and getting people to interact. The facilitator should have a few simple questions up their sleeves to get the conversation going during the Q&A. Example questions to the listening group could be:
-how would you have handled these challenges?
-what surprised you in their story, and why?
-what are your key take-away points from their story?
Coaching the groups: many employees will not have done something like this before. Openly share your experiences as a trainer, including the fears you’ve experienced yourself and how you deal with that, to help build up their confidence. Tell them it is OK to fail and that this will be a safe environment in which they can practice and share experiences.
Executing the reverse classroom: ensure that you have excellent sound quality by having a stable internet connection and an external microphone (laptop microphones are horrible). Don’t type on keyboards and take off any jewellery that makes sounds when touching the table where the microphone is standing on.
Let the facilitator greet the participants, summarise what is in it for them in the next 60 minutes, including agenda, introduce the groups, and motivate people to ask questions via the chat.
During the Q&A session, the facilitator asks the questions posed in the chat and motivates attendees to ask questions. If no one asks, the facilitator should start asking questions to the groups to engage in a dialogue.
At the end of the reverse classroom, inform attendees who they can contact in case they have additional questions. Optionally, you can tell them where they can find the recording of the reverse classroom.
Enhancing the experience: creating interaction during a reverse classroom is a challenge. You can engage your groups before the webinar by letting them do online voting (e.g. via mentimeter.com) on what topics they would like to discuss. If you feel brave enough, you can also do that during the reverse classroom to get real-time interaction. Tip: use either multiple choice or free text and limiting it to 1 word in the beginning.

By recording these online sessions, you create digital learning material that can then be shared with the rest of the organisation as a future resource. That is the scaling effect at its finest.

BUILDING A DIGITAL LEARNING CULTURE

I’ve experienced many times when introducing digital learning forms how cultures and organisations were “not ready”. That didn’t prevent me from introducing digital learning formats, and neither should it stop you. I was however aware that an organisation at that stage then needs a lot of hand-holding, explanation and support in trying out new digital formats.
A fitting analogy would be teaching a child how to swim. Though perhaps scary at first for the child, let them get used to the water, the temperature of the water, create first positive experiences by playing with water and then start teaching them how to swim.
The same logic applies here: start with 30-minute webinars for product training or for explaining a new process/tool. These are very concrete topics and are very well-suited for these online learning formats. Get feedback on every webinar you do, especially at the beginning, and listen back to recorded webinar sessions. Note those potential improvements for the next webinar and implement these straight away. This will rapidly increase the quality of the webinar learning experience and demonstrates to all employees that you take their feedback improvements serious. A perfect basis to start making both webinars and online reverse classrooms something “completely normal”. Or said differently: establishing a digital learning culture inside your organisation.
Give the organisation a year to get used to webinars and online reverse classrooms, before you start to present complete digital learning strategies to your C-Suite. They are not ready just yet to listen to you. Demonstrate during the course of a year that these formats work, and you will have open ears at the top of your organisation to explore other digital learning initiatives.
This way, you can address the immediate business need to minimise the effect that COVID-19 Coronovirus has on your corporate learning initiatives and at the same time, prepare the organisation to move towards digital learning.

FREE DIGITAL LEARNING CONSULTING

My way to contribute during these trying times that COVID-19 brings to us is by providing you and your organisation a free 1-hour consultation on how you can apply the above approach inside your organisation. No strings attached, but I do have one requirement: you commit yourself towards your organisation and me to successfully execute 3 webinars and three reverse online classrooms yourself. As proof that you did so, you privately share your story with me how three employee-feedback improvements helped you to create a better webinar or reverse virtual classroom experience.

FREE COURSE ON TRANSFORMING CORPORATE LEARNING

To support the further development of your digital learning culture, and in light of the challenges the coronavirus brings us, I offer free access to my Corporate Learning Disrupted online learning experience. This offer will remain active as long as the COVID-19 Coronavirus is impacting corporate learning. I hope that in this way, I can give back to the community and the world by making my expertise available to anyone.

Stay healthy & keep learning

Book your Free Initial Digital Learning Consulting now.

Free Digital Learning Consulting