The Move from Face-to-Face to Online Learning

Lately there’s been a real push at work to consider alternatives to delivering facilitator-led programs into online formats.  There’s various reasons for doing so but the main ones are to make our content accessible to our interstate colleagues.

Another reason is that an impending move to new building does not guarantee that we’ll have our sophisticated classrooms  anymore. Fortunately, this ensures that we don’t become complacent and offer an immediate learning solution as being facilitator-led classrooms – because there won’t be any.

Last year, I developed a blended Instructional Skills Coaching program that provided skills to subject matter expert coaches to instructionally coach a skill, task or work process on-the-job taking into account adult learning principles.  One component of this program was where I facilitated a “demonstration the skills coaching” so that the participants could watch, observe and learn the process and then have an opportunity to practice this on a work process on a colleague under workplace conditions.

I’m now in the process of developing this program into a fully blended program (minus the faciliator-led workshop) that uses:

  • Pre-virtual classroom activities;
  • A “Learn How to Learn Online” Course [for those participants who have never used Webex or any virtual classroom technology so that they are comfortable with the tools];
  • Virtual Classroom using Webex to teach the theory of Instructional Coaching;
  • Video Conferencing (where participants will view a facilitator demonstrating the coaching process in real time on a volunteer and will allow for two-way communication);
  • Supplementary video podcasts of each phase of the Coaching model that can be viewed at any time as a memory jogger;
  • Post-workshop activities that involve practice coaching sessions with real life work processes on the job conducted as peer reviews;
  • Observation by a Team Leader with a debrief using an On-the-Job Checklist and finally,
  • Create a Coaching Schedule Plan where the participant (in conjunction with their team leader) create a plan of how and what they will coach on-the-job.

In effect, any SME across the organisation will receive a “Pathway” where all the above activities are undertaken in order to reach a level of proficiency for on-the-job coaching.

In the future, I’m also contemplating of including a ‘Social’ element to it to create a body of SMEs who can share their experiences and learning through a social site such as Yammer.

But one step at a time…

The program was implemented across one business unit for a Transformation Project of the company I am currently working for as a solution that many teams were not cross-specialised.

Although this is not a ‘quick fix’ solution (and I have to continually remind Team Leaders that this course does not make their team members instant experts in work processes overnight and that there is a level of commitment, on-the-job coaching and performance support required), the results were that within three months, many of the teams had substantially cross specialised within their teams to the point where team members were all at the same knowledge and skills as each other.

One of the unexpected benefits was that team members started talking, collaborating, sharing ideas with each other because not only was their job role expanded but they saw their work in context to the ‘bigger picture’ of the work flow.

The program was successful so now it will be rolled out across the entire enterprise as part of the Specialist Coaching curriculum.

But I can’t leave well enough alone and I’ve started tinkering.

Over the last few days, I have been creating the fully blended program and admittedly enjoying the design of this course into a virtual classroom.

The slides of the Coaching Course

The slides of the Coaching Course

Usually in this case, my process is use the existing material from the Facilitator-Led workshop and redesign for online.  The objectives and requirements are still the same but although it involves a lot more co-ordination to create the blend, I believe it has a real mix of activities but more importantly, lots of on-the-job performance practice and support tools.

The e-Facilitator Guide

The e-Facilitator Guide

I have completed the e-Facilitator Guide (I start from here first); then designed my slides in Powerpoint and now, I am creating the Participant Workbook.  Afterwards, I go back to my e-Facilitator Guide and finalise it by inserting page number references and doing a final check over the whole lot.

My plan is to run this virtual classroom with my fellow L&D colleagues pretending to be participants as my pilot who can provide me with some comments.  It’s also an opportunity to inspire them to learn more about the virtual classroom tools and to get them to undertake a virtual classroom design course so that they can consider how interactive and engaging they can make their own facilitator-led content.

Virtual classrooms are going to be a stretch for this particular business unit who has only had facilitator-led workshops for training in the past; and at best, despise e-learning as their only experience is completing mandatory online compliance courses.   This will be one step towards dispelling the myth that ‘online’ learning is bad and that they are page turners only.

For our interstate colleagues, I know that they will enjoy this learning because they don’t have to feel neglected or forgotten anymore.

Back to work now…

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 23 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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6 Responses to The Move from Face-to-Face to Online Learning

  1. Hi Helen, Thanks for you reply, and glad you found the post on ‘What not to Do’ helpful. Sounds like you have done some great work with your client, and flattering that they wanted to use your F2F content for a virtual presentation even if it wasn’t completely formatted for the venue. All the best to you as you finish up your project. I look forward to your next posts. Debbie :)

  2. Thanks for your comment Debbie, your blog post was brilliant and I had to tweet it. I liked the ‘what not to do’ and it gave me tips that I hadn’t considered around the assessment. In response to your question about the video, no, I hadn’t considered mobile learning but the videos themselves wouldn’t be too hard to access through tablets. In our business, the majority of staff are in offices and only a select team (valuers) are out on the road who have iPads. They can access the videos through accessing their organisation profile but I reckon they’d have same issues as when you’re on the road trying to access content from a website that is behind a firewall.However, as the program will be rolled out across the enterprise we do have mobile bankers out on the road and other teams who would require a mobile solution. There’s so many possibilities I see to develop so much but I can only do so much until my contract ends in March. That’s why I’d like to leave the organisation with this program.

    I had to chuckle with what you wrote in your post about not using the same F2F content for online. Last week I find out that a colleague is running this coaching program but via a virtual classroom to a pilot group in our business. I hadn’t completed the design and development but due to time pressures, they couldn’t attend the facilitator-led program so a virtual classroom was offered. When I asked what material he was using for the VC, he said, “the slides of your facilitator led SME coaching course and nothing else”. So unfortunately, this pilot is going to be lectured at with slides – so it becomes a webinar.

    So in one way, it’s good that there’s a need out there for it. But bad in another way as a pilot group that is going through it via VC without my content is going to experience it as if a F2F course is just lectured at via a VC. However, I did provide my slides and script and whatever I had so that they may be used in some format until I complete them. I also offered to be the facilitator and/or producer so that I can have some involvement in the pilot group. Unfortunately sometimes as a contractor, you have to ‘let go’ of your ‘baby’ and let others take it on, foster it and let it grow.

    I finish the design and development early next week so my plan is to then do a train the virtual trainer in it to teach my colleagues how to run it virtually via webex and how all the pieces of this blended program fit in. It requires a lot more co-ordination on their part to ensure all the pieces work together (it’s not as simple as just rock up to a class; train; give them an evaluation; close up classroom) this is going to require an ongoing relationship with their learners and team leaders….

    We’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks again for your post, much appreciated! :-)

  3. Hi Helen,
    This is a tremendous program. I like how you are approaching the design, you are acknowledging that the online component needs to be designed and customized specifically for the online environment so that it is engaging and embraces the tools. I have had similar challenges converting face-to-face under graduate credit courses to the online environment. I have had to work closely with faculty (who are at times very resistant to online) to adapt their class. I wrote a post about it here:

    http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/how-not-to-design-an-online-course/

    Now back to you. It seems in some way that in the business settings it is even more challenging to incorporate online learning, as you said this is likely because of the compliance training (often viewed as BORING), that most employees are familiar with. I like you idea of the video podcasts that serve as memory joggers. Are you able to make these in a mobile format so managers can view them on a smart phone? It seems that mobile is a great technology for busy employees and managers who could access ‘training’ on the go. I have read that Harvard Business Review programs offers mobile learning formats for their enrichment programs. Here’s the link, maybe you can get some ideas? http://hbr.org/hbr-learning

    Have a great weekend Helen! I enjoy reading your posts very much! I used to work as a training and development manager in a large company years ago, before I moved into higher ed, which is why I find your posts so interesting! :) Debbie

  4. Thanks Karin, much appreciated. I’m looking forward to seeing how the virtual classroom blend turns out!

  5. kgitch says:

    This is excellent, I’ve been looking at other similar models. Kudos on this. ~Karin (@kgitchel)

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