Over the past decade, ICAgile accreditors have reviewed thousands of courses to ensure top-quality agile learning experiences, vetting everything from the class activities to the instructors facilitating them. Along the way, we’ve used this experience to build resources for trainers, teachers, and instructors to develop the competencies they need to deliver top-quality training remotely.
From our experience accrediting remote agile courses across many disciplines, we’ve identified six essential tips for developing exceptional remote training.
1. Simplify your tools
We've come across many fantastic tools that can make your remote learning experience stand out. We've also seen how easy it is to over-tool the solution and leave your learners overstimulated and underserved.
When used right, tools become a seamless and nearly invisible part of course delivery. Use only the essential tools you need to create an effective remote learning and development experience. Keep your technology simple so that your learners remain focused on what matters most: the learning experience.
2. Hold a conversation, not a lecture
Presentations that only focus on slides will leave learners disengaged, no matter how intriguing the material is. Instead, treat every minute of your online course as an opportunity to inspire your learners with various content types and opportunities for collaboration.
The first step is to break away from a reliance on static presentation slides. A recent survey from Vyond—a platform for creating your own animation—found 48% of employees wish their company brought presentations to life with video. Try to weave in video content to capture your audience's attention and to help them remember the key learning objectives. Having learners keep their video cameras on throughout the course also encourages continuous engagement.
Secondly, create moments that invite learners to contribute and actively participate in the discussion. Every participant in a remote course has a unique perspective, goals, and backgrounds that differ greatly across disciplines. Even since the pandemic began, attitudes toward training have grown more diverse—particularly across genders and generations. Space for these diverse perspectives will enrich the experience for all participants.
3. Make it (virtually) hands-on
When designing an online course, it’s easy to think traditional classroom activities or engagement strategies won’t work. However, with the right tools, simple practices like group discussions are just as effective with remote course delivery.
Start with focusing on the “why” behind every activity. Once you’ve identified the learning objective you hope to achieve, then choose the tools that will help students achieve it. From videos and animation to virtual whiteboards, leverage the most effective remote tools and concepts out there to help engage your learners and make the learning stick.
4. Take a break
When teaching in-person, full-day sessions are not unusual. However, remote learning requires a different approach. After roughly three hours, your learners’ retention of the material will begin to decrease significantly.
Online courses should be between 90 minutes and two hours. Keep in mind that learners need a break every 45 to 60 minutes. Take this opportunity to modularize your courses, teaching in smaller chunks so that people can take what they’ve learned, try it out, and return to the next class prepared to go deeper.
5. Have a back-up plan
When technology is involved, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Make sure you have a plan for when it does. Approaching course design with an agile mindset allows you to embrace uncertainty and be flexible to meet learners' needs in the moment.
For example, discuss with your co-trainer ahead of time a plan for internet outages. Should an outage happen, you’ll know whether you will try to move to a different location or provider, have your co-trainer continue the class, or reschedule your class. It’s also important to have a plan for how you’ll communicate these changes with your learners.
6. Practice, practice, practice
Remote course delivery is most effective when you understand the technologies, master the art of smooth transitions, and maintain an energy of collaboration and engagement. Together, these skills shield your learners from the world of distractions, right on their screen.
Whether you’ve spent a year or several years perfecting your in-person training skills, effective remote course delivery requires a strikingly different approach and lots of practice. At ICAgile, we believe in the power of remote learning and we’re here to help instructors deliver top-quality courses from anywhere in the world.
Editors note: This article was originally published March 25, 2021 on atd.org/blog.