Virtual classrooms are increasingly popular, specifically among learning and development professionals who can use the platform to upskill and reskill workers. As these online learning platforms become more ubiquitous in professional settings, there are many ways that trainers can leverage education best practices to ensure workers are getting the most out of their experience while retaining necessary knowledge and improving incrementally over time.

Recently, Class partnered with ATD for a webinar to discuss upskilling, reskilling, virtual classrooms, learner engagement, technological impact, and more. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best practices and essential insights provided by our expert panelists.

Tap into best practices

Just like academic learning, training in a professional setting has its greatest success when it’s tied back to what we know about learning and knowledge retention. Best practices encourage learning and development professionals to ensure they’re creating modules and training programs that tap into these fundamentals and put workers in the best place to succeed.

Marsha Nuffer, Founder of BlueShore Talent and Leadership Development and former CLO of McKinsey & Company, expounds on this: “The NeuroLeadership Institute has come up with a model of learning that gets us out of the ‘show, do, tell, practice, reflect,’ and says there's there are four components that have to be present for somebody to learn and for brain to begin to change. 1. Attention—We get distracted once every few minutes. When you lose attention, you're not taking in knowledge or the [new] skill. 2. Generation—How we learn, and these are all the best practice techniques we know: role-play practice and sharing ideas. [Sparking connection] is what we already do with multimodal and reinforcement. 3. Emotion—It's good for attention, but it's also good for solidifying memories. If you think back to your own past, the moments that have positive or negative emotions are the ones that stick with you. 4. Spacing—The reinforcement, spacing learning, coming back to it over and over again.”

Don’t pick just one lane

Virtual classroom platforms open a new world for learning and development professionals, allowing them to reach workers outside their geographic location, transcend time zones, leverage collaboration tools, and tap into new-level data analytics to understand engagement and impact. Often, when organizations think of online training, they think exclusively of pre-recorded, asynchronous modules made available for workers to complete on their own schedule for necessary security updates, policy changes, and more; however, mixing up training with synchronous and asynchronous opportunities can expand the overall engagement experience.

Ed Miller, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Class, reinforces this by adding, “The contrast of asynchronous to synchronous [is vital]. Nothing is more flexible than asynchronous. People can do their learning at home at three in the morning in their pajamas, but it's generally not a collaborative, team-based experience. Some of the richest learning is peer-to-peer feedback. You go to your breakout rooms, and you get to exchange, discuss, and learn from each other and have that reflection time together. One thing that we've done at Class is track engagement and that does two things: 1) At the end of a session or the end of a course, you can actually measure engagement based upon things like talk time, chat time, feedback through emojis, how much time people stayed in the learning environment. And all that is great feedback to the instructor, as well as in real-time knowing that you've gotta bring people back in and engage them. 2) One of the side effects is that if you're transparent and people know you're tracking engagement, [engagement increases].”

Choose when to leverage tools valuably

By utilizing a thorough understanding of when and how to make use of synchronous versus asynchronous modules, lecture versus breakout sessions, and more, learning and development professionals can craft a more engaging and rewarding upskilling or reskilling program.

Nuffer illustrates this with a personal example, “Definitely, the pulling out of content and doing pre-work and post-work asynchronously [was time-saving]. At McKinsey, we did that particularly when we first needed to move programs online during COVID. We really doubled down on ‘How do you do those collaborative role plays?’ I mean, not fancy stuff. Sending people to breakouts. We would put a faculty member in there and structure role plays, give each other feedback, come back to the main room, and debrief.”

Miller adds, “I realized that most asynchronous solutions were really two things: 1) They're a content management system and 2) a way of delivering those materials asynchronously. The third piece is really the synchronous piece. And it's really together that you get a complete solution…If, on the technology side, we can deliver an environment that makes it easier for practitioners to teach and train rather than become experts in technology, I believe that's a lot of the battle. We've gotta make it just work intuitively and be easy to use so that everybody can get their job done and deliver these engaging experiences.”

Evidence of effectiveness

By leveraging the power of virtual classroom platforms, learning and development professionals can not only enhance the experience of their upskilling and reskilling training but also uncover actual data that demonstrates just how effectively and engagingly the programs are impacting the organization.

Are you ready to take your organization’s learning and development programs to the next level? Reach out to a Class team member today, and let’s empower your workers with training built on best practices. Want to check out the webinar in its entirety? You can find it here.

Mike Lovell

Mike Lovell is the SVP of Marketing at Class. He has dedicated his career to technology and the applications that can innovate the way people live and learn.

Mike Lovell

Mike Lovell is the SVP of Marketing at Class. He has dedicated his career to technology and the applications that can innovate the way people live and learn.

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