With social distancing requirements in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering training virtually via a distance learning platform such as ZOOM, GoTo Meeting, MicroSoft Teams, etc. has quickly become the norm for professional development in our field. While virtual training removes geographical barriers and creates new opportunities to reach a larger segment of the ECE workforce, it also presents some unique challenges; particularly for trainers who are not yet well-versed in using the online classroom to deliver training and professional development to adults.
Rather than establishing complex policies around the delivery of virtual training, The Nevada Registry, with support from the Training Approval System (TAS) Advisory Workgroup, has opted to create guidelines, suggestions and best practices centered on the delivery of virtual training. It is our hope that should you opt to deliver training this way, you will do so intentionally and in a way that is effective and engaging for your learners.
When considering developing a virtual training session, please consider the following:
- You will need to research which distance learning platform will best meet your needs. Consider the cost, functionality, system requirements, etc. High speed internet is a must when delivering virtual training sessions!
- Your skill as a virtual trainer is vital to the learning process. Similar to face-to-face trainers, you need a strong foundation in content, instruction and assessment. You also need experience in other specific areas such as understanding the functionality of specific training tools.
- Virtual training is NOT simply a one-sided presentation of a PowerPoint slideshow nor should it consist solely of reading an article or watching a video and answering questions.
- Virtual training sessions should be interactive and incorporate a number of engagement strategies designed to connect with participants (i.e., chat room, surveys, polls, word clouds, break out rooms, etc.).
- Adult learning principles should be imbedded into your virtual training session.
- Limit your group size based on the content being delivered as well as your own level of experience delivering virtual training sessions. To increase the likelihood that your participants will be able to apply what they have learned in a meaningful way and be able to evaluate that learning, a large class size is not ideal. If you would not do it in an in-person training setting, you should not do it in the virtual setting either.
- Limit your virtual training session to no more than two hours (less is preferred) for maximum engagement.
- Establish expectations for participating in virtual training sessions (i.e. each attendee must participate via web camera and leave his/her camera on for the entire duration of the training session, what to do if he/she gets logged out during the training session, etc.).
- Consider recording your virtual presentation and soliciting constructive feedback from trusted colleagues prior to delivering virtual training to improve your online delivery skills.
- Understand that the number of trainers approved to deliver a single virtual training session will be limited to one trainer per hour of training content. For example, up to four trainers can be approved for a four-hour virtual training session while only one trainer will be approved for a one-hour virtual training session.
BEFORE the virtual training session:
- Ensure that you are familiar with and know how to use your desired distance learning platform effectively prior to submitting a virtual training session for approval. Most distance learning platforms include built-in tutorials for utilizing the software. A vast amount of information can also be found by doing a general search on the Internet.
- Require pre-registration for all attendees. This will be important when providing the access link to your training session(s).
- The technology/system requirements for the training delivery system should be communicated to the participants prior to the training session.
- Communicate your expectations for participating in virtual training sessions to each participant prior to the training session (i.e. each attendee must participate via web camera and leave his/her camera on for the entire duration of the training session, what to do if he/she gets logged out during the training session, etc.).
- Establish accountability measures that help verify attendance, such as requiring each person to sign-in at the beginning and end of the training via the chat room with their Registry ID, etc.
- Regardless of the platform you choose, ensure that you will be able to see all participants and that all participants can interact and ask questions throughout the session.
- Individuals should not be permitted to participation solely via telephone (with0ut access to webcam and chat rooms, etc.) as there are limited ways for them to participant and verifying attendance is more difficult.
- Technical assistance should be available to those participants that may have difficulty with the technology for the training delivery system.
- Schedule a minimum of a 15-minute virtual “recess” between each training session when delivering consecutive training sessions.
- Be punctual. Log into to your virtual training platform at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of Registry-approved training sessions.
- Be prepared to reschedule training in the event of technology failure.
DURING the virtual training session:
- Provide instructions for navigating the platform at the beginning of each session.
- Use icebreakers.
- Offer learning activities that engage and involve the learners and support active learning.
- Require that each attendee participate via the chat room, etc.
- Schedule 5-10 minute “brain breaks” every hour to give participants time to process the information being shared.
- Incorporate ways to monitor attendees’ understanding of content.
- Ensure that your environment is free from visual and auditory distractions (e.g., background action, noise, children, etc.).
- Consider recording your session to help track attendance and participation. When recording, participants must be notified.
AFTER the virtual training session:
- Email each participant a Certificate of Completion that contains their pre-printed name and your signature. Blank certificates (with no name) should not be issued and should only be issued to individuals who were present the entire time on their webcam and that participated in all required engagement activities.
- Submit training attendance electronically via your Online Portal. Be sure your list is complete before submitting it to The Nevada Registry for review. Attendees will not be added once the attendance sheet has bene submitted.