Bringing your classes on-line or switching meetups to virtual delivery offers a unique opportunity to engage with a global community of learners, collaborate and get inspired.
My special early morning virtual class (6 AM EST) brought together participants from US, Singapore, Germany, India, Austria and Romania. Yes, if it wasn't for the virtual delivery format, it's unlikely that this group of coaches would've met together in the same place!
However, redesigning a class for virtual delivery is not an easy task. One can't simply take an in-person class and expect it to run smoothly in a on-line instructor-led synchronous format. I've seen a number of failed attempts (including my own) to convert an effective in-person activity literally, bringing the same mechanics and same elements of it from a psysical room into an on-line collaboration tool, or applying the same principle from physical to virtual space.
Here are the few useful things I discovered so far in my experiments:
Even more than in your in-person workshops, allowing some time for connection in your virtual training is key. Connecting participants to each other, the topic of your class, you as an instruction and the tools that you will be asking them to use during the class, all that will go a long way in creating effective learning experience.
Good news - you don't have to do it all during the class.
Offer options to join a special pre-class tools setup calls, design a board with a few small topic-related activities. Ask participants to compete these before the first class and use the data gathered in the class opening.
For someone, who is still new to remote work, or for whom a meeting is mostly about a one-way communication, being on a Zoom video feels awkward. However, adding the video channel to your virtual class allows the group to enhance collaboration, relatedness and psychological safety. We are able to read each other's body language, facial expressions, we tend to reduce multitasking, video allows to bring human interaction, creativity and fun into the virtual classroom. To help set the expectations, include camera in your pre-event tools checklist and add it to your class working agreements.
Virtual backgrounds and snapchat filters can help set the mood and ease transition for the "remote newbies" in your class. You may also consider building-in a few activities into your workshop that ask participants to turn off their camera (or cover it with a post-in note) during reflection time.
Keep it small
From a size of the group to the duration of your workshop, I found that smaller is better online. General "have a break every 90 min" rule does not apply in the virtual space. Even if you class is full of activites and collaboration, 90 min is too long! Offer options to take short breaks every 45 min to one hour.
The same applies to the size of your group. Have you heard that "more than eight don't collaborate"? Online collaboration stops at about 5. Make extensive use of Zoom breakout rooms, vary the sub-groups configuration: pairs, trios, quartets. Use virtual Liberating Structures: 1-2-4-All, Impromptu Networking, Conversation Cafe and others to orchestrate effective group work in your class or even a large meetup (see a blog on recent NYC SUG virtual meetup)
Curious to experience my remote workshops or learn about other tips for effective online training and facilitation? I am running my first Agile Training/Facilitation - Virtual Edition class this week, experimenting with new tools and new ways of facilitating Liberating Structures virtually.
Join me in my upcoming classes and community events:
Community Event at PMI NYC Chapter (May 8, 2020) -
Remote Collaboration Unleashed. Register here
May 12 - May 15, 202
(Australia/New Zealand timezone)
Experiential learning online! Re-imagine your facilitation, workshop delivery and collaboration with brain-based principles and Liberating Structures. Register here
May 16, 2020
Experiential learning online! Learn to facilitate DevOps Culture change with Lego and Chocolate Simulation Game. As seen in 15 countries, 50 conferences and private clients. Register here