The global marketplace is not only about the ability to buy and sell to anyone with an Internet connection. A Gallup poll shows that 37% of workers in the US telecommute at least two days a month, and according to the 2013 State of Independence in America Report, 17.7 million people work as freelancers.
Nowadays, with companies having many employees in different offices in different cities, countries or even continents, online training is growing in popularity. However, there is a big difference between online and offline training. Because the trainees are not actually physically present, the trainer has to overcome the attendant limitation.
With so many people choosing to work online and in virtual offices, it is important to make these training sessions effective, so we’ve prepared 5 practical tips to help you.
1. Pre-training preparation
Choose your training platform
Creating online training programs require two things: an authoring tool, and a learning management system (LMS). The LMS is actually the training platform, and free ones work especially well with small companies. However, the important thing is to choose a platform that will grow with your company. The platform should be able to accommodate more users efficiently at a reasonable cost. Choose a platform that is lean and flexible.
Create a registration form with several questions
Your registration form will give you a better understanding of what your audience wants and needs. It will also help you prepare the tone, academic level, and instructional method that will work best for your students.
Design your session to suit their needs
People have different learning styles. Some need a lot of visual aids to help them understand the material, while others prefer more text than images. Videos work for some people while others like games and activities to keep them interested. Some training sessions require some live interaction, so webinars with a question and answer portion may work best.
2. Test your software
There is nothing more embarrassing than having technical difficulties with 20 people waiting for you. Make sure that the software you’re going to use for your training session is working properly.
You can do a trial run a few days before your first training session to work out any bugs in the system. It would be great if you could test it on someone that fits the profile of your trainees. You can get feedback from your testers about what can be improved for a better learning experience.
3. Share training materials before the training
It is a good idea to give your trainees access to the training materials before the session to give them a chance to look them over. This can help immensely in comprehension, and allow them to identify areas they do not fully understand, so they know what they should pay special attention to, and what questions to ask.
It would also be advisable to record the session and place a copy on an easily accessible platform such as Google Drive or Dropbox. You can share the link to the training to participants for viewing at any time.
4. Make sure to engage your trainees
Make sure your trainees participate as much as possible. If possible, arrange to have a variety of speakers to shake things up a bit.
Even if you are the lone speaker, you can check if your trainees are engaged by asking them many questions. You can incorporate team assignments and projects that will give trainees an opportunity to not only compare notes with other trainees, but also get to know other participants on a more personal basis.
When trainees enjoy their training, they are more likely to retain and apply what they learned. Additionally, an engaged trainee is more productive and valuable to your company.
5. Feedback and evaluation
No one likes tests, but you have to make sure that your training was effective by performing an evaluation periodically.
You can find out if participants learned what they were supposed to, and how much. You can perform evaluation after each module, at the end of each session, and/or at the end of the training program.
There are many types of evaluation. A simple quiz may be appropriate, or you can present them with cases and ask them to write an essay. What you do will depend on the nature of the training. Find out what criteria will give you the best measure of how much learning your trainees actually acquired.
It is also important to get feedback to find out if your training program is working for your audience. Ask them to give you their honest opinion about what worked for them, and what did not. Your aim is to train your employees well, and with good feedback, you can make your online training program better than before.
Creating a good training program for an online audience is harder because you can’t gauge your audience’s reactions as well as when they are in the same room. It is important to go the extra mile to ensure your online training is effective and serves your intended purpose. Follow these tips and you should give them the best online training possible.
Micheal is a career advisor and team building coach at resume service Resumesplanet. He’s psyched about marketing, business, blogging and SMM. In his parallel life, he loves hiking and can’t wait to see the Himalayas one of these days. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook