A little over a year ago, the news broke: generalized containment. No one moves, we lock ourselves in our home and everything goes virtual. At that time, I was involved in a 6-month training course with 12 trainees and in 3-4 day modules …
The news is difficult for everyone to take and fear dominates. The first challenge was not to lose the motivation of the students and to ensure pedagogical continuity. This period was particularly complicated to manage, especially for long training.
Since then, even if some training sessions have taken place face-to-face, I mostly work remotely and this has disrupted the way in which knowledge is passed on. Here is my assessment of this past year on the screens, both pedagogically and humanly.
1 / Make short sessions spread over time
The transition to virtual classes has completely changed my way of imparting knowledge.
We cannot transfer face-to-face lessons to virtual classrooms. First of all, because 3 hours of online lessons is very long and the attention inevitably decreases (and my energy too!). Then, because we do not see the trainees directly and we have to find new ways to create interactions and make the exchanges natural. The classes are therefore shorter. Learning takes more time online: a technique that would have taken me 2 hours to teach face-to-face will take me at least 3 hours virtually. I therefore plan more time and more segmented courses.
2 / Have a well-established structure and be very precise
I find that my online courses are much more structured, the theory and practice times very well defined. For example, I often ask to do exercises and I give a time frame: “we will meet in the classroom in 10 minutes”. Break times must also be very precise: you can’t go to the break room to call the trainees to come into class… There isn’t really any room for improvisation. I realized that I could very easily branch off and bounce back from a group’s feedback during a face-to-face class, but much less during a virtual class.
3 / Think about new forms of interactions
My slideshow takes into account new forms of interactions. For example, it is interesting to integrate open questions or quizzes directly on the slide show (which I will have done orally in person). There are little tips that keep a fun and interactive side (surveys, raffles, contests, etc.). One of the challenges is not to lose some trainees, so you have to be careful that everyone speaks, speaks and participates in the course. It requires a greater concentration for me than face-to-face where we can immediately see if a person has not understood well or is lost!
Another thing to take into account is that the courses are very static. Usually I like to do icebreakers, play games and put students in action to facilitate learning. The virtual classroom makes it all difficult …
I also thought to myself that there is no longer a “coffee break”, informal times when the trainees exchange with each other and with the trainer, discuss everything and nothing. Over long training sessions, these moments allow you to create links and have a strong impact on the group dynamic. For my 6-month training, we were all delighted and relieved to resume face-to-face training!
4 / Personalize learning as much as possible
Uploading resources, video tutorials, additional content, etc. was an enriching experience. Everyone can move forward at their own pace and have autonomy in learning. Depending on his level and his desire, the trainee consults the appropriate resources. In addition, as I spent less time with the whole group, I set up a personalized tutoring system: I had many exchanges by messages or by phone between the courses with the trainees. This allowed me to identify blockages and misunderstandings that had not been formulated during the group time.
I think online education has some positive points that I will continue to exploit:
- Touching people far away who cannot move;
- The possibility for me to give lessons from anywhere;
- Easy access to educational resources;
- The fact that everyone moves at their own pace and is autonomous in consulting the content.
I use the online courses for small groups or individually and on a short-term basis (sessions of 2 hours maximum, and no more than three sessions per week).
In my eyes, distance education remains an alternative and not a standard. This operation leaves aside people who are far from digital and who lack autonomy in learning (so we risk neglecting the people who need help the most…).
In addition, I am convinced that the human factor is too important in the transmission of knowledge and that nothing can replace the relationships, feelings and dynamics of a “real” class.
And you ? How do you experience everything virtual? What are the advantages and limitations of this system?
Camille Roumazeilles: Coach and trainer in digital communication, I support you to make shine your project, communicate with joy and gain visibility !
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