Ten Lessons to Improve Online Learning Streaming

2020 will be a year to remember because a lot of reasons. One of them will be the accelerated digitization of business and working processes because of social distancing measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19The impact on learning has been one of the most obvious for logic reasons. In fact, this situation has come up with the Golden Age of webinars and digital events into the corporate arena. However, it is not easy at all to train from afar and get to adapt to it. Our experience let us point to some key tips to get the most of online learning and survive. 

Conceptually, post-pandemic world is perfect for meetings and knowledge sharing through virtual channels. Only for the second quarter of March the Zoom app surpassed the two million downloads per day milestone. It was mandatory to get ready the market to delocalize one-to-one meetings. Some of the most recognized business schools with online service offer recognized between 50% and 300% earnings increase, at least for short trainings. What once was something boring (to connect with other people through a virtual conference room) is already a learning method beyond reasonable. 

From the teacher’s point of view, online training experience is also a challenge. Our practice in this kind of formats designed for professionals and managers let us resume in ten points the main lessons acquired to achieve the best user experience possible. 

  1. Choose the schedule right. If your pupils move in the same time zone, for sure it will be a Good idea to program the learning sessions early in the morning. This way you will avoid splitting in two working routines which, for those who work from home, is already more disorganized than usual. If you have attendees from different time zones (Spain and America, for instance), try scheduling your classes in the afternoon, starting at 19:00. Is important to give the chance to integrate all the participants together instead of forcing most of them to follow the sessions pre-recorded. 
  1. Handle with care the length of the sessions. This will be key to grab the attention of the participants. Both at home and away from a business office, there are a lot of things that contribute to distraction. The more the connection lasts, the easier for us to get distracted with other stimulus is, including chores. An hour length is right for a big group of people. An hour and a half demand dynamism. Two hours length are just for the brave and you must be aware that you are losing units all along. 

“Both at home and away from a business office, there are a lot of things that contribute to distraction” 

  1. Use your camera. This sounds obvious since we are talking about online learning but hold on a second. The professor must be always visible, best combined with a medium shot, without aerial views or close-ups. Camera helps reinforcing the explanation through gesture, even if we are sharing a slide show. But regarding the attendees, invite them to activate theirs if there is enough bandwidth and they feel comfortable with their workspace. If we are conscious of being observed, we use to be more focused and we avoid interacting with those disturbing items that surround us. 
  1. Shut off the microphones. It is wiser to deactivate the microphones by default and activate them just when necessary. Remind to your pupils, if using Zoom, that they can play with the spacebar like a talkie-walkie to talk only when the need it. 
  1. Chat is the week spot. Most of the video conference apps has an interactive board, ask for speech function and a chat. However, chat room uses to be secondary and we are not conscious of it as a living place. If you do not have anybody to manage the chat and ready to notify you about doubts and questions making visible to you in an effective way (even using WhatsApp as a second screen, via mobile), try to stablish pauses to take care of the comments published on the tool. 
  1. Use interactive elements through different levels. Do not let the temptation of just make a conference, speech or workshop beats you, only using your voice and a good PowerPoint presentation. You can create surveys and ask the attendees to answer in real time. You can also gamify the way they participate in the class and ask them to interact with digital content through a URL posted on the chat window (Microsoft Swey is perfect for this). You can even create parallel rooms to organize virtual groups to work together and share their conclusions in the main online room. 

“You can create parallel rooms and ask the attendees to answer live” 

  1. Watch out for the shared content. If you are going to play video, make as many trials as needed to ensure the setup is right. Are you sharing the sound from your computer? Are you using headphones to improve audio capture? If this is your situation you should remember that sound management can be tricky. Maybe your students are hearing what you are playing, but you are not. 
  1. Use the perfect equipment. In case you can use two computers at a time, do it. The second one can be helpful for seeing parallel content, including WhatsApp Web. Consider the possibility to acquire a condenser mic to wipe undesired noises and brings your students a crystal-clear reproduction of your voice. Light you up properly. A ring light is the perfect accessory. 
  1. Water near you. This moisturizing technology, served in glass, will help you to speak without breaks for many minutes. It works! 
  1. Rehearse. I do not mean gesture rehearsal or speech rehearsal. Both are key, no doubt, but try rehearsing technical transitions: share and stop sharing the screen, playing video and pausing it, look into the camera and stop doing that, searching for a student through the screens carousel, flip into the chat window… Try to make everything happening in the screen into something fluid instead a parade of intervals and apologies while you find a button or command to display some content. 

And remember always, always, always prepare your presentation as if that was the first time you are going to show it. Everybody uses to thank a lot current examples and those details that show you worked your part every single minute. This is valid both for virtual environments and for in-person environments. Don’t you think? 

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