During training phase to learn and experience transformation or agility, it is important to work with experiences, interactions and social dynamics. This is why we work with several face-to-face training formats. It transfers the acquired knowledge and questions of the participants into a certain way of understanding and experience. But what shall we do now during the Corona crisis? Well, virtual trainings, of course!
Wind has massively changed, folks! Corona has not only changed the course of “training ships”. Therefore, we would like to share our experience and knowledge of a methodic-didactic maneuver change with you. Of course, we could directly change the ship and think about basically different formats of virtual trainings such as shorter intervals, time reduction or more self-study – we didn’t do that on purpose. We decided to share our experience with you for one to two days of virtual trainings with 8-12 persons. We would be really happy to receive your own impression and perspective:
Copy & Paste – well, that would be far too easy.
Simply copying the methodic-didactic red thread of a training would be possible, but not useful at all. For instance, in our ACT-Training (Agile Coach TEAMWILLE) a focus on content and the reasons for change is necessary more than ever. What kind of virtual maneuvers are useful to achieve this goal together with our participants?
We made the decision to change the face-to-face training format into a virtual format established in Microsoft Teams, since it is still important for the quality of learning experience to focus on interacting. Due to different sub-channels in Teams it is possible to open virtual breakout rooms. Feel free to have a look at our article: “Tools for virtual meetings”.
Preparation – the devil is in the details
To avoid a focus on everything that goes wrong during a training, e.g. technical aspects, it is important to plan enough time for preparation prior to a virtual meeting. Communicate technical onboarding incl. all advices, tips and tricks at least 1,5 weeks prior to the virtual training. So all participants have enough time to be well-prepared:
- Provide your participants a technical onboarding (incl. different firewalls and access restrictions)
- Advice your participants to carry out a sound and video test at an early stage
- Equip your agenda with exact time schedule
- Send a brief check list to all participants (please find more information below)
All items on our checklist for participants might, in parts, sound quite simple and trivial, but have turned out to be necessary and very valuable:
- Quite room
- Stable internet connection
- Access to virtual rooms (laptop and mobile phone)
- Power for laptop and technical equipment
- Test your video function and microphone
- Have pen and paper at hand
- Just one focus, no parallel activities at all or any other potential distractions (e.g. other chats, emails, …)
- Enough water, tea, healthy snacks etc.
- Coat, shoes and headphones for a walk
A methodic-didactic preparation for a maneuver change requires far more preparation prior to trainings in addition to the usual preparation when it comes to non-moderated small-group discussions or tasks for self-reflection. Therefore, please feel free to use our orientation guideline:
- What material (e.g. texts, videos) must be available exactly where?
- Where shall the result be compiled?
- What acceptance criteria will be the basis for a result presentation? For instance: a picture or drawing, answering key questions, documenting discussion results in a symbol
- When are breaks usefully integrated? For instance: in total more breaks, ½ hour per each half day and 1½-2 hours lunch break are for sure recommended and useful
Establishing a virtual room – less is more, as it is often the case
A room for virtual trainings and the tools shall, of course, serve and support a methodic-didactic setup: Keep it simple! Each tool must be tested in advance with respect to its performance. Nothing affects content and interaction within trainings more than a group which must concentrate on and deal with technical challenges and orientation. Okay, since we are already talking about “orientation”: recurring signs or any information from you as a trainer are far more valuable and important than technically clever features. So do not overengineer.
Furthermore, we recommend to use one clear slide during every break, discussion or task in your presentation. This assures a red thread and makes it easier for the participants to read through the agenda and the basic conditions of the training. This is how participants can organize themselves within their own four walls during a virtual training.
Whenever it is possible, divide the role of moderator and organizer between two people. Especially within the phases of our training Agile Coach TEAMWILLE (ACT) we work with two trainers – due to quality reason both in virtual and face-to-face trainings. Above all in a virtual context with the same number of participants, a division of roles creates focus and mutual flow.
The moderator is responsible to follow the red thread, to manage content, ad-hoc statements and input of participants and the moderation of group discussions. The organizer manages the virtual training from the technical perspective, explains virtual to-do’s, shares the presentation slides, documents any input by participants and develops responses.
What can be expected – simply not just copy & paste
Clarify the participants’ expectations in the beginning and query them regularly during the training. It massively increases the probability that a training is going to be successful and that participants are satisfied and happy. A virtual training requires far more self-responsibility from the participants, e.g. with respect to the available time within group discussions or when participants proactively share their thoughts and questions. A maneuver change will be successful not only due to the trainers but also through a clear communication of expectations and an assumption of responsibility by the participants themselves.
We ask our participants for instance, to be actively involved in each thematic block or at least once during the first or second half of the day. This is how everyone contributes a little bit to an interactive training in a virtual environment.
Group Dynamics – also virtually
To achieve productive and vibrant group dynamics in a virtual training, the above-mentioned items are in any case supportive and create a good learning atmosphere. But let us also have a profound look at aspects that positively strengthen group dynamics:
- Encourage your participants to switch on their videos during a training. It is important that you set a good example.
- Integrate and strengthen your body language
- Actively ask questions, i.e. to a far greater extent compared to a normal moderation. Integrate your participants far more consciously. What irritates? Where have you already experienced this? What is your opinion?
- Stick exactly to your time management and plan longer breaks. You are welcome to go for a walk during the breaks or combine it with processing smaller single tasks.
- Don’t forget to focus. Do not use too many slides. Think about integrating scribbled images, photos or videos.
- Pay attention to your own gestures as a moderator. Use them consciously. This increases the attention of your participants and provides a great training atmosphere.
Have you already gained experience in this field? Maybe you want to share your experience or exchange your views about it? Do not hesitate to get in touch with us or leave a comment below in the comment field. We are looking forward to receiving your active contribution in this currently windy maneuver change.
Credit: TEAMWILLE/Anna Münzhuber