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It's not always easy to take traditional in-person training and replicate that experience online. The transition requires a thoughtful blend of technology, strategy, and an understanding of learner outcomes as well as participant needs.

We wanted to better understand how our customers approach using Class for in-person trainings. So we sat down with Peter Dempsey, Digital Learning Manager at Great Western Railway (GWR).

Adapting training at Great Western Railway

Peter has been instrumental in transforming GWR's online training capabilities. Previously, the majority of their trainings were held in-person and their learning management system was primarily used for hosting PowerPoints. The pandemic, however, necessitated a rapid shift to virtual training. After initially using traditional web conferencing platforms that weren't purpose-built for facilitation or instruction, GWR found that Class significantly enhanced their virtual training experience and delivery.

"When we were using [traditional web conferencing], it was very clunky," shares Peter. "You might have gaps where people are feeling a little bit awkward from the silence because they're trying to find where their screen is and their webpage...Whereas when I started first using Class, it was definitely a lot easier to find your websites, your tools, your PowerPoints, and just have all of that in one place."

Post-pandemic, as travel restrictions were no longer a factor in quite the same way, Peter recognized the need to find a balance between in-person opportunities and online training, developing a blended approach to meet diverse preferences and learning objectives. Looking forward, the team at GWR is now focused on developing a learning approach that leverages both modalities thoughtfully. "I'm a traditional trainer by heart," starts Peter. "So I understand the concept of delivering to the classroom...Online delivery is very different to classroom-based delivery. However, there are some similarities. And that's down to people like myself as digital learning managers."

Here are Peter's helpful tips and tricks for using Class to replicate—and even improve upon—the in-person training experience in a better, blended format.

Engage learners with purpose

“If I was to pick maybe two or three tips, tip number one is if you're going to use breakout rooms, make sure you've got a task," advises Peter. "Don't just chuck them in there to talk, because invariably, people don't talk about what you expect them to talk about." Peter emphasizes the importance of providing clear instructions and objectives to keep discussions focused and productive.

Empower participants to take ownership

“Again, interactivity for the videos, I would personally move away from as the facilitator, pressing the play button," Peter explains. "Let them do it every single time." Allowing participants to start, stop, and interact with videos on their own fosters a sense of ownership and active participation.

Recreate familiar in-person moments online

“As a live classroom trainer, we always have flip charts available or pens and papers," Peter shares. "So the best way to get people on board with using the online electronic whiteboard is just tell them it's a flip chart." By framing the electronic whiteboard as a familiar tool and providing a brief opportunity for participants to explore its features, trainers can alleviate apprehension and promote confidence in using new technologies.

Transition from trainer to facilitator

“People are going to need to transition from being a traditional trainer to a facilitator,” begins Peter. “The difference is that a facilitator doesn't have to give all the answers. In fact, if you're talking, they're not doing anything, they're not learning. So my advice to everybody is get your facilitator head on. If you become facilitators and stay quiet, silence is actually quite a good thing because it lets them work it out, because someone somewhere will talk.”

“In terms of the facilitation then, the breakout rooms in Class are your best friend online,” shares Peter. “You can just chuck people in there. But when you bring them back, don't say anything or just ask one question. Say, ‘Talk to me’. Leave it at that. ‘What did you discuss?’ Leave it at that. Whereas a lot of traditional trainers, they won't stay quiet after a breakout room live online. They'll just carry on and ignore what the people have done in the room. Again, that doesn't make people feel online like they're part of this learning process.

Impressive results after implementation

GWR’s adoption of Class has revolutionized their training programs, bringing numerous benefits and setting a path for future enhancements. “The biggest feedback was that participants really enjoyed how much control they had over the tool. Even the less tech-savvy could truly engage and interact with it,” Peter shares.

“With Class, we're not just face-to-face; we're not just online. We do both, and this gives us incredible flexibility in our courses and provides options for our employees. And once we completely bring our full vision for this blended model to life, that will save on hotel and taxi costs. It will save people’s time, and it will keep people actually going home every day rather than having to stay overnight,” concludes Peter.

Check out our customer story hub to learn more about how customers are using Class to improve their virtual instruction. Ready to see Class in action for yourself? Reach out to a team member today!

Kelvyn Hicks
Kelvyn Hicks

With over 20 years in education software, an aerospace engineer and pilot, Kelvyn founded an LMS company, led education solutions at Microsoft, Middle East and Africa and built a joint venture start-up with the UK Government. Now, as Head of UK&I at Class, he continues to drive innovation in hybrid and online learning. Explore articles authored by Kelvyn.

Kelvyn Hicks
Kelvyn Hicks

With over 20 years in education software, an aerospace engineer and pilot, Kelvyn founded an LMS company, led education solutions at Microsoft, Middle East and Africa and built a joint venture start-up with the UK Government. Now, as Head of UK&I at Class, he continues to drive innovation in hybrid and online learning. Explore articles authored by Kelvyn.

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