5 Tips for Transitioning In-Person Training to Blended Online Learning

April 28, 2020

5 Tips for Transitioning In-Person Training to  Blended Online Learning

Given the current situation, most talent developers globally are quickly transitioning in-person training to virtual environments. From what we’re hearing from L&D leaders such as yourself, navigating that pivot has brought a new set of opportunities and challenges. 

On one hand, learning has been elevated to a new, more strategic partner in the business—helping remote workers adapt and stay productive while helping the entire workforce become more resilient in the face of tectonic change. 

On the other hand, it’s challenging to decide which in-person training should be delivered in a ‘live’ virtual classroom and which ones should be converted into ‘out of the box’ on-demand courses, available to employees anytime and anywhere.

At its core, this is a transition from the traditional blended learning model to a new, fully virtual one, which we’re calling,blended online learning. Blended online learning is a mix of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and on-demand online learning.

Finding the right blend of virtual classrooms and online learning to meet learner needs

I spoke with Daniel Brigham, a long-time LinkedIn Learning instructor who is currently working on a course about converting instructor-led training (ILT) to digital learning set to release at the end of May, about this topic. He said, “Right now, it’s easy to assume that virtual learning is just a carbon copy of in-person training—just online. But, it’s really about creating the right blend of both online learning content, like LinkedIn Learning or your own organization’s learning content, and a webinar-type classroom experience.”

“To help strike the right balance, it’s important to think about what content can be learned independently and how that learning is reinforced with live experiences such as workshops, feedback sessions, onboarding, or role-playing. On the positive side, the more that is transferred to online learning content, the more scalable, accessible, and cost-effective it is,” said Brigham.

The other big challenge is the steep learning curve about how these virtual environments work. As a facilitator of VILT, you must be conversant with how virtual tools work is critical if you want to create an experience that is as—if not more—interactive than being face-to-face. It’s a space where everyone can join in the chat discussions, ask questions, take polls, split up into breakout groups for smaller discussions, and make virtual eye contact when participants share their video feed.

I asked our Customer Support Manager (CSM) team about how they are helping customers get up-to-speed on new tools and they had a wealth of information to share. 

  1. Get to know your video conferencing tools: Each of the popular video conferencing tools have their own unique pros and cons. It’s worth getting to know them and then evaluating which one is best for your organization. We have unlocked courses on each of the top ones that you may want to take advantage of including Zoom, Bluejeans, Webex, Skype, and Microsoft Teams

  2. Find the length of the virtual training sweet spot: It is unlikely that your learners will stay engaged in an all day session, like in many in-person sessions. Our L&D team recommends that you limit the virtual classroom time to 90-minutes per day. 

  3. Show up on camera like a pro: A lot of us are new to the presenting on camera in a virtual meeting, so it never hurts to learn a few tips. This course on Executive Presence on Video Conference Calls is well worth the 34 minutes. 

  4. Ask for participation in a variety of ways: One of the advantages of virtual environments is that everyone—particularly introverts—have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in new ways. Intersperse your presentation by encouraging your participants to ask questions in the Q&A feed. We recommend asking your attendees 1-2 key questions every 20 minutes of content. Ask for feedback using the check yes/no or thumbs up/thumbs down feature. And, encouraging a round of emoticons in chat is always a crowd pleaser.

  5. Make it even more interactive with polling and discussion groups: If your virtual meeting technology doesn’t have a polling feature, then set up a Sli.do or Kahoot for real-time polling. Or, set up a Microsoft Teams discussion group for use before, during or after a virtual training session.

How LinkedIn is finding the right blend 

Just like you, Kevin Delaney, LinkedIn’s VP of L&D, has been working through these challenges and finding new ways to adapt. “We’re trying to set the table with a rich set of learning offerings. We’re doubling down with LinkedIn Learning, creating curation paths, and then obviously shifting to live virtual as well. People want something constructive to do with their time, and if you can give them learning as something to engage themselves with and occupy their minds, then it benefits themselves and it benefits the company,” Delaney said. To learn more about how he and his team are approaching talent development now, check out this webcast replay.

Join the L&D Connect LinkedIn Learning Group to discuss blended online learning

We would love to hear how you are approaching the balance between VILT and online learning, what tools you recommend, and any best practices you would like to share with your peers. Join L&D Connect today and let’s continue the conversation.