Yesterday, we completed our first live, online training course. Even with a lot of testing before the course, there’s nothing like doing something for real. The good news is the course went well, and we’re happy to deliver further training courses online with the same technology. Having said that, there were a few lessons learnt.
What do we mean by “training live and online”?
Basically, it’s like a live video conference. You see the trainer by video, plus the other delegates, and they see you. The trainer talks, presents slides and recorded videos, and sets exercises for delegates to do during the session. Delegates can ask questions to the trainer and share ideas with other delegates.
We break a one day classroom course into three two-hour sessions, which are delivered over three consecutive days.
You need a computer that’s connected to the Web, a microphone and webcam. A headset helps as well, in case there’s any echo (we had a little bit on the second day). There’s no software to download.
Some lessons learnt
Although there’s live interaction, and everyone can see each other, it’s still a different experience to a classroom environment.
The course ran more slowly than in the classroom, probably because the trainer has a few more technology-related things to worry about. It means, as a trainer, you need to allocate approximately 10%-20% more time to the course. As we’d left some time spare for the unexpected, in our case, the course didn’t overrun.
It’s also important to keep the delegates engaged, and, for that reason, we’d probably limit future courses to no more than five delegates (our first course had three).
Splitting the course into thirds and delivering it over three consecutive days, worked well – we plan to stick with that format. Two hours is probably the limit of what delegates can take in a single session. We had delegates from the USA and Germany, and starting the course at 3pm UK time seemed to suit everyone.
We made on minor mistake of forgetting that slides look a lot bigger when projected in a classroom than they do when presented on a computer screen. If you’re in the habit of using slides with lots of items in a bulleted list, you’ll probably need to rethink the way you present your material. For the second and third days, we amended the slides so any images were larger and therefore easier to see. We also reduced the number of slides per page in the handouts, as another way for delegates to see the detail on slides.
Being able to see and speak to everyone made it a completely different experience to a webinar or a recorded online training course – both for the trainer and for the delegates. A classroom course is still a better experience, but where that’s just not practical, delivering live training online is now at the stage where it’s a suitable alternative.
Do you have experience of online training? What’s your thoughts about it?