Whether you are developing virtual training from scratch or converting classroom training to be delivered online, there are new best practices and guidelines for engaging learners.  I have found these strategies to be extremely effective.

  1. Firstly, incorporating both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-paced) elements into your leadership developmnt training is paramount. This dual approach caters to varied learning preferences and schedules, allowing participants to engage with the material in multiple ways. Asynchronous activities, such as digesting whitepapers or viewing prerecorded expert interviews, lay the groundwork for knowledge. These resources can be accessed at the learner’s convenience, providing a flexible foundation that enriches the synchronous sessions. When the learners then come together for the live component, they are prepared with insights and questions that fuel richer, more informed discussions.
  2. he role of the facilitator in online learning cannot be overstated. They are not just there to share information but to foster an environment of active engagement. Their participation in online discussions is critical—they set the tone, model the expected behavior, and lead by example. A facilitator’s active engagement, offering counterpoints, and injecting additional resources, encourages learners to think more deeply and critically about the subject matter.
  3. Small discussion groups are a valuable tool in the online learning toolkit. These smaller settings allow participants to delve into topics more deeply, share diverse perspectives, and learn from each other. They create a sense of community and collaboration that can often be missing in online formats. In my experience, whether teaching corporate clients or university students, these small group discussions are consistently highlighted as one of the most rewarding aspects of the online learning experience.
  4. Another best practice involves the use of multimedia. Engaging different senses through text, audio, video, and graphics caters to different learning styles and can help keep the content interesting. For example, an animated video can simplify a complex topic, making it more accessible, while infographics can summarize key points effectively.

In conclusion, the best practices for engaging virtual learners are multifaceted and must be tailored to the content, the instructor’s style, and the learners’ needs. By leveraging a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning, fostering active facilitator involvement, encouraging small group discussions, and incorporating interactive and multimedia elements, we can create a learning environment that is as rich and effective as any traditional classroom setting.

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