Due to the challenges the COVID-19 crisis brought us, a lot of employees have started working from home. As Spring trainers, we of course don’t want this coronavirus to stop us from spreading the good word, so we continued giving these trainings online. Not from the office, but from home. Since there’s a great chance online training courses will become more important in the future, I want to share what I learned while teaching a Core Spring training online for the first time. Here are five tips that will make your online training a success.
1. Ensure a quiet work environment
The internet is a great resource for information regarding working from home. Having a walk in the morning to get into the work mindset, putting on your work outfit instead of your slippers, and being able to shut down your laptop in the evening are of course great tips.
What stuck out for me as a trainer though, is how essential it is to have a quiet place to teach. When you teach in a training centre, you usually won’t be disturbed and distracted often, but that’s not always the case when working from home. Noise from children, neighbours mowing grass, or your housemate cleaning out the dishwasher are not great for your own focus. It’s even worse for the students’ focus.
2. Fresh air and coffee are important, so don’t forget to take breaks!
Now we’re on the topic of being able to focus: make sure to take a break from time to time. Both you and your students need to go through a lot of material, and the days can get pretty long if you don’t have a break from time to time. If possible, try to make a time-schedule in advance that you share with your students.
What also works well, is to agree with your students how long they prefer their breaks — a noon break could take half an hour or an hour depending on the audience — and to share a countdown timer on your screen during the break. Just make sure to be predictable about when you will start again, so you don’t lose any students. Then enjoy a cup of coffee, have some fresh air, and continue with the next chapter or lab when the timer hits zero.
3. Keep your lessons interactive
Because you lose out on the person to person communication, it’s important to stay interactive during the course. Make sure to ask questions regularly, for example about the students’ own experiences with the subject or their opinions. Just make sure you don’t get “out of touch” with them. It would feel a bit bizarre to talk to a screen for an hour without getting any response…
4. Ask for feedback
Of course teaching isn’t only about how the trainer feels, it’s also about how well they convey information to the students. That’s why it’s also important to have a small retrospective with your audience from time to time. Ask them what works well for them in the training, or what they miss to give them an optimal learning experience.
5. Use a good platform with good functionalities
There are a lot of teleconferencing platforms available to facilitate online training courses. Most of them offer quite a bit of interesting functionalities. Make sure that you use them to the best extent possible. For example, enabling students to indicate their lab is done by simply using a “yes” vote flag conveniently shows what the status is for everyone.
Using the group chat to ask questions during a lab can be very useful to help students who get stuck during the lab, without disturbing others. You can even use breakout rooms and screen sharing to enable students who are done with their lab help others.
Hopefully these tips will help you prepare for teaching from home. Perhaps what is most important in the end, is that you’re able to give the students a similar experience to the experience they would have had in a training centre — although unfortunately, without the exquisite lunches.