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.