Thursday, December 31, 2009

Webinar Case Study: Meeting a Urgent Need in the Pharmaceutical Industry

I recently interviewed a colleague who designed and delivered a webinar to meet an urgent training need. She works for a Boston pharmaceutical start up of 20 employees and used GoTo Meeting to deliver training to nurses in a call center in Dallas.

The purpose of the webinar was to train the call center nurses to answer questions about a new cancer drug developed by my colleague’s company. If you’ve ever read the package insert on prescription medicine, you’ll notice a phone number to call with questions, which is required by the FDA of pharmaceutical companies. Small pharmaceutical companies typically outsource this work to a call center.

To help develop the training, my colleague interviewed the manager at the call center for two hours. Using this information she developed a 90-minute session with 25 slides. The slides included a large number of patient photos to illustrate before and after affects of the medicine. A journal article about the disease that the drug treats was sent as pre-reading to participants to help provide context for the presentation and maximize the time spent during the session. After the presentation the senior medical advisor from the pharmaceutical company (who is based in North Carolina and joined virtually) reviewed an FAQ and answered additional questions.

The result was an efficient training session delivered in real time, plus a recording made available to those who could not attend. Had this training been delivered the traditional way, my colleague and the senior medical advisor would have flown to Dallas to deliver two sessions (since some nurses needed to staff the call center). Additionally, a secondary audience in the Boston office (employees and contractors) attended the webinar and learned first-hand from company experts and from the questions raised by the nurses.

In total, 3 sessions (2 sessions for nurses and 1 for staff/contractors totaling 4.5 hours) were consolidated into 1 session (1.5 hours) and several hours of travel time were eliminated. In a small organization where resources are stretched thin and staff are in various locations, replacing face-to-face training with training delivered via web cast is a great way to save time and gain efficiencies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Keep Your Cool Online

Picture this: A project manager with a geographically dispersed team, who was somewhat new to conducting meetings via web conference, decided to facilitate a project kick-off meeting using a web conference. Her goal was to get the team on the same page and make a good first impression. As the meeting started, she lost her Internet connection and lost her virtual meeting room. In a panic, the project manager blurted out that “I guess we won’t have a meeting. Why do these things always happen to ME?” in an exasperated tone. Sound familiar?

A skilled online facilitator knows that from time to time, there will be technology glitches, and she knows how to keep her cool and deal with these issues with confidence. Ideally, you should partner with someone when facilitating an online meeting so that one person can run the meeting and a second person can handle technical issues. I also always make sure I can access the meeting agenda and handouts outside of the meeting room (either printed copies or a copy on my computer) so that I can continue the meeting on a phone line if needed. Even better if you can email all meeting documents to participants as a back-up.

In this case, the project manager was using a separate phone connection, and everyone was still connected to the audio bridge. She also had a second person helping with the technical issues. Instead of panicking she could have muted the phone, told her partner that she would start the meeting without the visual and request a signal or a note to her to let her know the status of the virtual meeting room. A comment such as “We are working to restore the meeting room and can actually start without it by introducing the agenda and first topic, etc.” would have appeased her audience.

As it turned out, in this meeting the internet connection was restored within minutes. The project manager lost credibility with her team by sounding the alarm bells and losing control of the situation. If she had been better prepared and planned with her co-facilitator, she could have seamlessly shifted from plan “a” to plan “b.” The participants would have certainly noticed that things weren’t going exactly as planned, but they would have also observed a professional who was well prepared, confident and kept her cool in a difficult situation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Collaborative Book Writing and Learning

Over the weekend I heard an interesting story on NPR about the future of the book industry called Book It. Host Brooke Gladstone spoke with various guests about the changes occurring in the book industry including the growth of self-publishing and e-books. One section of the interview was with Bob Stein of The Institute for the Future of the Book who spoke about "books 2.0" and how the future of books will be a collaborative process between authors and readers. It sounded far-fetched at first, but as he described the process, I was intrigued.

The discussion about books 2.0 had me thinking about the learning industry and how technology has changed and will continue to change the industry. Many of the ideas that Bob Stein discussed can be applied to the learning industry, for example, readers influencing books by collaborating with authors as they write books. This sounds like learners contributing to learning programs by participating in interactive learning experiences such as wikis and web conferences. "Learning 2.0" has come about as a result of technology that allows for more interactive and collaborative learning experiences and it's good news for adult learners. Adults learn best when they are engaged and contributing to the learning experience. The pace of change in the learning industry has definitely picked up and I predict that adult learners will continue to benefit from new learning tools and techniques that focus on collaborative learning.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stream 57's Panel Discussion on Online Training

Stream 57 recently hosted a webcast panel discussion on “E-Learning and Online Training in the Face of the Flu, the Recession and the Demand for Better Education.” The panel shared a variety of insights on how to use technology for learning events and best practices for interacting with online audiences.

Throughout the discussion, a live audience participated by responding to polls and asking questions via chat. One interesting poll question was “What is the best way to successfully keep the audience engaged during teachings and trainings?” The audience responded that polling (42%), testing (38%) and chatting (17%) are good ways to engage an online audience. Only 4% of the audience thought that live video of the presenter is enough. I couldn’t agree more. In my experience those who are new to the area of delivering training via web conference will focus on the live video feature of a web conference. While it’s certainly helpful to be able to see the person who is speaking, if your interactivity starts and stops with a live video, you will quickly lose the attention of your audience.

The panel discussed a related question on how to prepare your instructors for teaching online. Brian O’Donnell from Centocor Ortho Biotech commented that teaching online is a teachable skill. Andrej Petroski from Harrisburg University suggested that instructors need to practice teaching online and think about the learner experience. He suggested attending webinars and paying attention to what you like and don’t like about the experience. I have utilized this method of attending webinars and observing the teaching techniques. There are so many creative ways to engage a learner in an online audience, and from every webinar I attend I can either pick up a new technique to try out or note something that didn’t work well in a session. Step-by-step, this is a great way to master the art of teaching to an online audience. And best of all, you can usually do this for free on your lunch hour.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Two for One

This week I had a unique opportunity to attend a web conference with Bob Mosher of LearningGuide Solutions where I also served as the session producer. He presented a session for Metro DC ASTD members on “Informal Learning – Are We Missing a Huge Opportunity.” Bob encouraged us to think about how to establish a "holistic learning ecosystem" that supports dynamic learning. A key component of a learning ecosystem is training was performance support “in the moment of need.”

Not only was the material of the presentation extremely relevant for training professionals, but he also demonstrated best practices when delivering training via web conference. During his 45-minute session he included four chat exercises and a poll exercise interspersed throughout the session so the audience was continuously engaged. His slides were rich with images, graphs and concepts and not overloaded with the usual bullet points of text. Furthermore, when speaking, he annotated the screen non-stop using white board tools. I felt as if I could see him gesturing as he annotated and it added tremendous energy to the presentation. It was a very valuable session where the audience had a two for one experience: excellent content and an exceptional demonstration of how to make material come alive in a virtual classroom.

Friday, October 23, 2009

PREP for Web Conferencing Success

With training budgets tightening everywhere, more organizations are turning to web conferencing to deliver training programs online to save money and time. According to the 2008 ASTD State of the Industry report, the percent of training hours devoted to live instructor-led online training is growing rapidly. Between 2006 and 2007, the amount of live instructor-led online training jumped by 50 percent, from 4.24 percent to 6.39 percent.

Instructional designers and facilitators new to web conferencing may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of converting live instructor-led courses to courses delivered via web conferencing. While tempting, simply placing the slides used for classroom training into a web conferencing tool and launching a training event will not result in an optimal learning experience for your audience.

For web conferences to be successful, instructors need to devote time to planning the event, including optimizing the content and exercises for a virtual classroom, getting the right facilitation team in place, rehearsing for the live delivery and finally, evaluating what happened. These steps are the key steps of the PREP (Planning, Rehearsal, Execution and Post Mortem) Model for Web Conferencing. For more information on this model, view an article in ASTD Learning Circuits.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Converting Chat Text into an FAQ

The chat feature of a web conference is a great way to interact with the audience. At the end of a web conference, the chat box is typically full of a variety of great comments, questions and answers. This text is a gold mine of information that can be reused by converting it into an FAQ. To do this, copy the entire text chat into Word. Delete text that is just “chatter” and whittle the chat text down to the important questions or comments. Then, start writing your FAQ, using the chat text as the foundation, but rewriting or rewording to provide context and clear information. Generally, this conversion process is best accomplished by someone who participated in the session or is knowledgeable about the topic.

Now that you have a well-crafted FAQ, what’s next? One technique I’ve used is to email the FAQ to attendees and those who signed up but couldn’t attend the web conference. This technique works well when you deliver the same course or session more than once and you develop a comprehensive FAQ from all sessions so that attendees in one session can benefit from the questions and answers from another session on the same topic.

Another technique for sharing your FAQ is to integrate it into your web site or online collaboration space. Depending on how and where you post the FAQ online, you can create a more permanent home for your FAQ and also make the FAQ visible to others who did not attend your session. For example, posting FAQs online from a virtual orientation program for new hires benefits all new hires, not just those who attended the session.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Logistics for Global Audiences

Reaching out to a global audience with a web conference is an effective way to deliver training or hold a meeting. When planning synchronous events for global audiences here are a few key questions to ask regarding the logistics of your event and online resources to help find answers:

What are the time zones of the participants?
Make sure that you schedule your event during a time that's convenient for participants.

What are the national holidays in the countries of the participants?
Check these online resources so you don't schedule an event during a public holiday in another country. (US State Department list of national holidays)

What is the legal work week in the countries of the participants?
Monday - Friday is the work week in the US, but not the entire world. In Muslim countries the work week is different to allow for Friday as a day of prayer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Podcast and Job Aid on Web Conferencing

Recently I was interviewed by Charles Gluck for a podcast by the Metro DC Chapter of ASTD. The podcast covers suggestions and ideas for improving web conferences, the roles of the facilitation team, and how to calculate carbon emissions savings when traditional training is delivered via web conference.

You can listed to the podcast by going to Metro DC ASTD Podcast.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chatting It Up

I remember the first time I taught a course via web conference many years ago. My co-worker and I were both new to the technology, and it was the blind leading the blind. We noticed the chat feature and promptly turned it off as we decided that we didn’t want people chatting while we were talking - that would be too distracting, we surmised.

Now as an experienced web conferencing practitioner, I can’t imagine a web conference without an active chat panel. Do I expect participants to chat as the facilitator speaks? Yes. Is it distracting, or does it mean they aren’t paying attention? No. If you copy and paste the chat text at the conclusion of a web conference and review what participants typed, you will usually see that the majority of the text contains comments about the session, answers to questions posed during the session and clarifying questions from participants. According to the eLearning Guild’s 2008 research report on Synchronous Learning Systems, chat ranks at the top of the feature satisfaction list and feature ease of use, and it’s the fifth most commonly used feature.

In today’s world of texting and microblogging, participants are more comfortable than ever with the chat panel in a web conference. Encourage your audience to use the chat area early in your session by doing something simple such as typing in their location. Give feedback early by acknowledge those who are the first to use the chat area, to send a signal that you will be responding to chat comments. As you verbalize a question, post it in the chat area as well. You may receive verbal and chat responses, which means more participants had the opportunity to contribute. The facilitator doesn’t need to respond to every chat comment or example, just acknowledge that there are many good examples and highlight a few. Weaving chat comments and questions into the verbal discussion or presentation opens up a huge door for interactivity.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Overt Operations in the Virtual Classroom

My last post focused on using your mouse deliberately for any movement on the screen. What else needs to be executed in a deliberate and overt manner in the virtual classroom? Nanette Miner shares excellent tips on deliberate language in her article, The Non-Drowsy Virtual Classroom in T&D Magazine this month. Miner suggests, "... language in the virtual classroom needs to be much more direct." and "To assist your participants, give written instructions for activities, preferably both on the screen and in a handout."

Confusion among participants when they are asked to complete a task or activity is not uncommon, but can be easily eliminated with deliberate language. Graphics and images can also support your instruction. For example, when facilitating a course with scripted role play, we asked two participants to volunteer by raising their hands and simultaneously showed a slide with instructions on how to raise your hand plus an image of raised hands. Next we assigned roles and asked the two volunteers to read the script on the screen. The role play was written like the script for a play and speaker lines were highlighted in corresponding colors to keep it straight. By encircling a task with clear instructions and images, we eliminated confusion and didn't miss a beat with this exercise.

Monday, July 27, 2009

An Antsy Mouse

I attended a web conference today where the presenter was sharing his screen with the audience and demonstrating various features of a web product that shall remain unnamed. He was a fine speaker, however, he had a frustrating habit that I’ve seen with many web conferencing presenters – I call it antsy mouse syndrome. The presenter was constantly moving his mouse all over the screen as he spoke which was very distracting. In a physical classroom this distracting behavior occurs as well, when the speaker with a laser pointer tries to “circle” what he’s pointing to on the screen. Most speakers naturally have a tendency to gesture to support their spoken word, which is a good thing, however gesturing with a mouse or pointer tool in a web conference will leave your audience dazed as confused as they won’t know where they should focus on the screen.

To prevent this problem, all of your mouse or pointer movements should be slow and deliberate so your audience can follow your movements. As you point or click, tell the audience what you are doing, for example: “I’m clicking on the Reports tab to open up a drop down menu. Next I’ll select Manager Reports…etc.”

One way to check your mouse movements to is to log in as a participant and watch the participant view as you click through a web site or whatever it is that you will be demonstrating. Another technique is to record yourself as you rehearse. In either case, watch closely to ensure that your mouse or pointer movements are supporting your content and objectives and not taking away from your audience's experience.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Polling: More Than Just Q&A

On the surface, polling is way for a web conferencing facilitator to ask questions of the audience and gather responses. Often you may choose to open a web conference with opening or introductory polls. Responses to polls about tenure at an organization or native language provide the facilitator with essential information about the background of the audience to help guide the session.

Polling can also be used creatively to support learning objectives. For example if you want to explore a web site with your audience, turn this activity into a scavenger hunt by posting a poll or two with “quiz” question. Then ask the audience to search the web site for answers to the poll questions. If you plan to share statistics or data, an interesting way to engage the audience is to pose questions about the data prior to revealing it. After the audience has a chance to respond to a poll on data, display the poll results juxtaposed against the actual data. Integrating polls into the content of your session using these techniques is a great way to maintain the interest of the audience and support your learning objectives at the same time.

If polling is a topic that you would like to explore in depth, join me for a free web conference on Best Practices for Polling on Tuesday June 23, 2009 from 1-2 PM Eastern Time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teaching Soft Skills: Not “Can We?” But “How Do We?”

After speaking at the ASTD conference in DC this week, I was discussing with a few conference attendees whether or not you can successfully teach soft skills on a web conference. We exchanged a few good ideas including a suggestion from a participant to incorporate video.

The discussion made me realize that it’s not a question of “can” but “how” we teach soft skills. With more than 137 workers worldwide involved in some sort of teleworking, a huge number of managers and others have to be able to give performance feedback or inspire others to follow his/her leadership virtually. Teaching these soft skills in a physical classroom is important, however when we teach these skills in a virtual classroom we simulate the real situation that many people face every day. The tools that virtual teams generally have at their disposal are the telephone and email, so they need to be taught how to deliver the appropriate messages verbally over the phone or in written communication.

Pairing up participants to role play, scripting role plays, and asking participants to type a sample sentence for an email in the chat are just a few of the ways that we can simulate the situations for participants and make the virtual classroom reflect the reality of millions of workers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Facilitation Dream Team

The content and complexity of your web conference will determine the facilitation team needed. In general, you need a facilitator and a producer to carry out key tasks such as:

Facilitator Role

  • Main speaker, subject matter expert.

  • Advances slides. Engages audience verbally.

  • Not active in chat. Comments verbally on what others type.

  • Comments on poll results.

  • Leads and debriefs exercises.
Producer Role

  • Web conferencing expert. May or may not be familiar with subject.

  • Explains technical features. May kick off and conclude the session.

  • Active in chat. Engages audience by posting and responding to questions/comments. Prompts facilitator to address chat questions. Types key messages to reinforce learning as facilitator speaks.

  • Opens/closes polls.

  • Explains how exercises will run.

What does your faciliation dream team look like?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Using Your Voice to Convey Body Language

If you’ve ever attended presentation skills training, you may be familiar with the research findings that show that audiences receive the most meaning from your presentation from visual cues such as body language (55%), followed by your voice (38%) and finally from the verbal message (7%).

Let’s assume you are not using a web cam in your web conference। How do you communicate your message and content with impact when your audience cannot see you? The trainer or presenter is left with his/her voice and content to keep participants engaged and interested. I’ll focus on voice in this posting.

The speaker(s) during a web conference should focus on a variety of volume, pitch and rhythm in their voice. Presentations skills trainers often suggest that you think about how you use your voice when you read a story to your children or other kids. Clarity and focus are also of utmost importance. Finally, to keep the speaker’s voice animated, he or she should stand up during the web conference, smile and gesture while speaking. Even though the participants can’t see this body language, they will hear it in the speaker’s voice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raising Your Language Awareness Level

When you deliver a web conference, who are your participants and where are they from? With the reach of web, it’s possible that your audience may be more global than you think. You may spend a few minutes at the beginning of a session asking questions to determine who’s online and where are they from. You may also consider a poll question such as “Is English (Spanish, Arabic, etc.) your first language?” Responses to these types of polls give the facilitator essential information about the background of the audience to help make spoken language adjustments. For example, slang should always be kept to a minimum when the audience shares the same first language, and eliminated altogether if you have a diverse audience.

During a conference call with a team in the UK a few weeks ago, I also realized that even business words in American English and British English may cause confusion. The team referred to “bespoke e-learning solutions” which made no sense to my American ears. Now I know that bespoke means customized, but I got hung up on this word in their email communications and during the call until they sorted it out for me.

The spoken word in a web conference is so essential. Practicing what you plan to say with others from different cultures is a great way to raise your language awareness level so that what you say will be understood by everyone, regardless of where they are from.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Group vs. Individual Participation

One of my favorite courses I helped redesign for delivery in a web-conference is a workflow productivity course. During this highly interactive five-hour session, participants learn a new way of organizing to-do lists, emails and paper files. Although all participants are supposed to participate from their desk, in the most recent delivery a small group participated with laptops from a conference room. This was an unplanned twist in the delivery model, but an exception was allowed because we didn't have time to move the group back to their desks.

A very interesting group dynamic formed and I learned a great lesson – a mixed audience of individuals participating from their desks plus a group participating from a room may spell trouble. The solo participants were able to connect better with the instructor and other solo participants than the group, and consequently were able to work through the material better. At first I thought the small group would benefit from being together to help each other and exchange ideas, the small group began forming a clique, alienating the rest of the participants. Next time everyone will participate from their desks and we'll try to leave those high school clique-forming tendencies to the high schoolers!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Masie’s Missed Opportunity

This week the Institute for Corporate Productivity teamed up with Elliot Masie of the MASIE Center Learning Lab and Think Tank to deliver a webinar on Informal & Social Learning. While the content of the webinar was interesting (a summary of findings of research conducted by i4cp with commentary/interpretation by Masie), the delivery was a missed opportunity by Masie to model best practices for utilizing web conferencing software. A few observations:

1. The first three minutes: My first post on this blog was based on an article by Masie about the importance of the first three minutes of learning, which set the tone for the rest of an event. In this case the first three minutes consisted of an overview of findings as the audience viewed a title slide (not even a slide with key findings). A much more compelling opening would have been to turn some of the more interesting findings into questions for the audience such as, “What was the #1 practice correlated with the occurrence of informal learning?” (answer: sharing best practices).

2. Duration of each slide: About halfway into the webinar, one slide remained on the screen for 9 minutes as the speakers talked, and the final content slide stayed up for a whopping 12 minutes! Keeping your audience engaged and attentive is an art not a science, but in this case the delivery team could have easily included a few more interesting slides to support their commentary.

3. Q & A: The last ten minutes of the session were dedicated to Q & A. A good delivery team can weave the questions and answers throughout the web conference. If questions are collected throughout the session, the producer needs to be on the lookout for questions that map to a particular piece of content and get the speaker to incorporate questions from the audience during the entire session.

Every time we use learning technology, even for a presentation that is not meant to be a true learning event, we have the opportunity to practice what we preach about adult learning. Masie's content was intriguing, as always, but the delivery needed more polishing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rich and engaging interactivity is one of the reasons that events delivered via web conference are so compelling. At an online presentation for the Technology Special Interest Group of the Metro DC ASTD Chapter someone asked an interesting question: can you have too much interactivity in a web conference?

Although I tend to see the opposite problem -- too little interactivity -- I believe the answer to this question is yes. If the interaction does not support your learning objectives and you are interacting with participants merely for the sake of interacting, then it can frustrate your audience. Also, if you are using the interactive features of your web conferencing tool with your audience simply because you think the feature is neat and not to support your content, then the audience may feel like they are jumping through hoops pointlessly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Putting on Your Marketing Hat

Last week I attended a webinar hosted by Ken Molay of Webinar Success on the “Secrets of Lead-Generation Webinars.” While the webinar had a marketing slant, several of his ideas were applicable to a variety of web conferencing events, including learning events. Let’s face it, we all need to put on a marketing hat. A couple of notable tips from Molay are:

"Get the audience to have a stake in the webinar – ask them to send questions before the event."

I like to send a pre-course survey before a web conference to get a sense of the learners’ experience level, needs and of course to see if they have specific questions they would like to address during the course.

"Reminders: send the day before and again 1-3 hours before the event. In the reminder email, remind people of the value proposition so they remember why they signed up for your event. "

The timing of email reminders is critical, and I agree with Molay’s suggestion. Also make sure the reminder is coming from an email address that the learner expects. Ideally, all communications about your event should come from the same email address.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Finding Your Inner NPR Voice

As a die-hard fan of National Public Radio, I’ve recently begun paying close attention to the quality of the voices of the hosts. I admire their clear and precise language that is free from annoying uhms and errs, and includes a variety of tones.

We can learn from the pros at NPR how maximize the use of voice to improve the delivery of a web conference. Since the audience may not see the speaker, the speaker’s voice carries additional importance. One tip that someone recently shared with me is to use the recording function of your web conferencing tool to record and listen to your voice as you rehearse. Great idea! The Public Speaking Help blog also offers 10 Tips to Improve your Speaking Voice

Friday, February 6, 2009

Web Conferencing is Green

One of the ancillary benefits of web conferencing that is sometimes overlooked is that by meeting virtually instead of face-to-face, carbon emissions are reduced. I like to include a slide at the beginning of each web conference that describes “what we saved,” to emphasize how web conferencing can contribute to carbon footprint reductions.

1. First, Calculate carbon emissions from transportation. Enter participants’ flight info, or estimate where all participants would have come from, and come up with one average flight. Then multiply the emissions for that flight by # of participants. You can use emissions calculators from or

For example, if you have a web conference with 30 participants and half of them would have flown from New York to Dallas-Fort Worth Texas (2,700 miles each or 40,500 total round trip) the carbon emissions would have been 7.57 tons for the flights alone.

2. Next, convert the tons of carbon saved into something more tangible. The EPA has a great Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Use Option 2 and input CO2 totals from #1 above, then click "Calculate Equivalencies." You'll get a variety of results to choose from - select the ones that will resonate with your audience.

Following the above example, 7.57 tons of emissions is the equivalent of recycling 2.4 tons of waste or the emissions from 16 barrels of oil.

Pretty nifty!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tips from ASTD TechKnowledge Participants

I am at the ASTD TechKnowledge Conference in Las Vegas Nevada and what an amazing week it has been. Today I made two presentations on “Facilitating Virtual Events,” one to a virtual audience and one in a traditional meeting room. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, I collected best practices and tips from both audiences and have posted them here. Any other good tips out there?
· Applaud volunteers profusely
· Rehearse in front of my dog
· Don’t read your slides verbatim
· Don't put ALL content on slides. Slides should reinforce what you are saying
· Use your National Public Radio (NPR) voice
· Don’t limit interactivity to verbal questions. Ask for hand raises. Include electronic click questions, free text response questions, etc.
· Create competitions to add some fun
· If you plan to record, make sure people agree to be taped. Remember that every form of recording is discoverable in a court of law.
· Participants should close all other non-applicable applications to enhance performance and reduce if not eliminate band-width issues.
· Help presenters with developing their own interactive solutions by providing coaching feedback on their rehearsals/teach-backs
· Give a "door prize" ( a gift certificate or book) for participants who complete pre-work (verified by us)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PREP Model for Web Conferencing: POST MORTEM

The final step of the four-step PREP model for web conferencing that I’ve been writing about for the last few days is the Post Mortem.

The Post Mortem is simply a review of what you did. One component of the post mortem is an evaluation by participants (such as a level 1 online evaluation, at a minimum). The importance of soliciting feedback and making adjustments cannot be understated. Since we cannot see our participants, the evaluation is even more important. Another component is a debrief by the facilitation team. Talk with the team about what worked well, what needs to be changed to improve the delivery.

Both of these tasks should take place immeidately after the event. Make the changes to your course as soon as possible...before you forget what they are and before you forget to do them altogether! The last thing you want to happen is to log in for your next delivery of the session and then realize that you didn't make the changes needed (to the content, exercises, etc.) from the previous delivery.

Monday, January 26, 2009

PREP Model for Web Conferencing: Execution

Over the last few days I’ve been writing about a four-step model for web conferencing known as the PREP Model. PREP stands for Planning, Rehearsal, Execution and Post Mortem. Today’s post elaborates on the Execution step.

In the Execution step, you are ready for the formal launch of your training. By the time you reach this step you have planned and rehearsed, you are ready to go!

A few tips to make sure your delivery goes smoothly are:

· Log in 30 min. early; ask participants to log in 15 min. early.

· Start and end on time.

· Display conference call number or audio information on screen.

· Engage the audience early, exposing them to the variety of methods they can use to interact.

· Give audience time to respond to questions, polls, chat. Some silence is okay.

· Have a second computer next to you so you can see the participant “view” at all times.

· Disable email arrival notification pop-ups and chimes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

PREP Model for Web Conferencing: REHEARSAL

If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance you can appreciate the amount of time the performers spent to get all of moving parts on the stage to synchronize flawlessly. Think about what you will need to do in order to ensure a smooth delivery so that even the very first time you deliver a session you make a good first impression.

I shoot for three practice deliveries: one with the facilitation team to work on timing and flow, then two rehearsals with mock audiences. After each rehearsal note adjustments needed and incorporate them into your session.

Friday, January 16, 2009

PREP Model for Web Conferencing: PLANNING

Over the next few days, I'll look at each of the four steps of the PREP (Planning, Rehearsal, Evaluation and Post Mortem) model for web conferencing. Step one is the planning you do to prepare for a web conference.

Five areas are listed in the planning stage, beginning with task of learning the platform. I’ve seen this happen before where the only preparation step taken was to learn the platform. Obviously you need to become familiar with the web conferencing platform and this is an important first step, however there are a few other tasks to consider. You'll also need to adjust your content and exercises to work properly in a web conferencing environment. Once you've finalized your materials, create a facilitator script that describes what is happening in terms of interactivity on each slide. Finally, you'll need to select your facilitation team which generally consists of a lead (the subject matter expert) and the producer (the web conferencing expert).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

PREP Model for Web Conferencing

Web conferences that require the most amount of time and effort are web conferences for formal events. Whether the purpose of your web conference is to teach college students irregular verbs in Spanish or to teach staff how to have a performance management conversation with their manager, there are core steps that all web conferences have in common. Planning, Rehearsal, Execution and Post Mortem, or PREP, are core areas to consider for a web conference. Let’s look briefly at what I mean by each core step of the PREP model:

Planning: In this model, the majority of your time will be spent planning. Simply taking the slides from a face to face training and uploading them onto a web conferencing platform will not result in a positive learning experience. You will need to re-think and adjust three main areas: your content, exercises and language.

Rehearsal: There are many moving parts in a web conference, therefore, it takes more time to practice and rehearse. If you have been delivering a course in a face to face setting, give yourself time to practice the delivery in a web conference. Even if you know your content inside and out, you need time to rehearse to see how it flows, based on all the adjustments you made to your materials in the planning stage.

Execution: When delivered properly, a web conference can be just as engaging as face to face training. This is the execution step and an engaging and flawless execution means that you have planned and rehearsed. It also means that you have the right facilitation team in place.

Post Mortem: A post mortem means “a review of what you did.” This step includes a debrief with facilitators and an evaluation from participants.

I’ll go into each step in more detail in future posts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ELearning Web Sites

It's a new year and a great time to set goals. One of mine is to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on in the e-learning industry. I've compiled a list of useful e-learning websites, many with free newsletters that may be of use. If you use Delicious, I've also posted them on my Delicious account.

American Society for Training and Development
World's largest organization dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. Learning Circuits is ASTD’s online e-learning source for the latest learning technology news and ideas. Go to ASTD home > Publications > Learning Circuits.

Brandon Hall Research
Independent research on e-learning trends, best practices, tools and vendors.

Chief Learning Officer Magazine
Articles on a variety of topics and trends in training, and is especially good for organizational issues and innovations in e-learning.

Distance Educator
Provides publications and research from education, corporate, government/military sectors and is a good site for current news in e-learning. Free weekly newsletter.

E-Learning Centre
Comprehensive portal of information on e-learning, covering key issues and links to key publications and reports.

E-Learning Guild
The Guild provides a good source of surveys and reports on trends in e-learning. Different levels of membership provide access to different information, however the free membership level includes a subscription to Learning Solutions eMagazine and eLearning Insider.

Learning for International NGOs (LINGOS)
Mission is to facilitate the creation, development and support of learning environments in the humanitarian relief, development and environmental sector. Members gain access online courses and e-learning tools.

MASIE Center Learning Lab and Think Tank
Source of information on technology, business, learning and workplace productivity run by Elliot Masie. Free e-newsletter subscription called Learning TRENDS.

Society for Applied Learning (SALT)
SALT is a professional society that offers resources and conferences for those in the field of instructional technology. Sponsors three journals: Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, Journal of Interactive Instruction Development and Journal of Education Technology Systems.

A Consortium of Institutions and Organizations Committed to Quality Online Education. Publishes the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks and the Sloan-C View, a free weekly newsletter.