Friday, July 10, 2009

Lessons Learned

The Personal Rewards of Training in the Virtual Classroom

Bob and I just finished teaching our new course: High Yield Training in the Virtual Classroom. During this virtual Instructor led training (VILT) course we employed our GEAR design and development process.

For those readers, not aware of the GEAR methodology, here’s a brief description:

The GEAR™ model consists of a spaced learning that includes a series of virtual training/coaching cycles that allow participants to apply immediately what they learn to their own work requirements.

When most people gather virtually, they merely meet online and then disperse. That’s it. With the GEAR training/coaching model, gathering online is only part of the learning journey. Following every session, participants expand and personalize their understanding of what they have learned and then take steps to apply concepts and tools into their work streams. The final step in the GEAR cycle is to report progress and receive personalized feedback from the trainer and peer participants. (For more detailed information about this model view the following recording:

Bob and I have marveled at what we experienced, as trainers, during this virtual course approach. We have previously participated in the development of courses using our GEAR model and observed remarkable results in learning outcomes for our clients including the exhilaration it was for the trainers. But this was the first time we have developed and delivered a course of our own employing GEAR.

The result? In our combined experience of training adults, we have not experienced greater personal satisfaction as trainers—ever! This wasn’t just “High Yield Training” for those who participated as learners, it was “High Yield training” for us as trainers. We finally spent most of our training time doing what no other training delivery system can do as well. We orchestrated adaptive learning embedded directly in the work-stream where we were able to provide individual attention to students with tailored feedback – and it was GREAT!

In addition, the lines between formal and informal learning blurred – as it should. We built a performance support broker that provided a bridge from the virtual classroom into the on-the-job independent learning process of participants. Fundamental to the GEAR approach is intentional informal “Expand and Apply” learning assignments.

Now, lest those who took the course and are now reading this blog wonder about these comments – we’re not saying that the course couldn’t have been better or that it won’t get better. It could and will. But, that’s the learner side of things. For a few of our learners, the transition from the traditional classroom to the virtual classroom was a bit difficult, because, frankly, we failed to help them reset their expectations from a traditional classroom mindset. The GEAR model requires learners to engage and own their own learning journey and it is impossible for any learner to hide from it.

What we found as trainers is that we knew where everyone was at every point of their learning journey to competence with greater precision than we have ever known during traditional ILT.
For the majority of participants, who jumped in and embraced the GEAR learning approach, it was transformational. Here are a few excerpts from learner comments to illustrate:

“Thank you so much for this excellent opportunity for growth. This was a fantastic program that has taken my teaching to a whole new level.”

“The VILT workshop taught me how to properly use technology to actively engage learners in a virtual learning environment. The opportunity to use the virtual classroom first hand, from my own office, gave me a true appreciation for the effectiveness of the VILT techniques. The month of the workshop flew by, and by the end I had the knowledge, resources and tools I needed to move my learning project forward, by leaps and bounds.”

“It was great to see a Virtual Classroom firsthand., This class not only helps you design for Virtual Classroom; it helped me improve my design process for all delivery methods.”

“The GEAR model provides us with a practical, proven approach to designing and delivering training that helps our learners go from just “knowing” to “doing.” In fact, the principles we learned in the Virtual Classroom training will make all of our instructor-led trainings better!”

From these comments you can see that participants emerged from their learning experience with an understanding of how to improve training in the traditional classroom setting as well. But what we want to celebrate with you in this blog article is the absolutely rewarding experience training in the virtual classroom can be for trainers. This course wasn’t a webcast. It was rigorous training that pushed learners to work to learn. And they worked, they learned, and they performed!'

Certainly the solid performance outcomes from this kind of training is rewarding to us. But our journey through the teaching process was even more rewarding. We worked more closely with our learners than ever before. They made greater progress in their learning than we have ever seen in traditional Instructor Led Training. We were able to coach learners through the fundamental learning moment of need—the moment of Apply. We were able to draw upon our experience to provide feedback that connected to improvements in the learner’s skill-sets, thereby manifesting the benefits of that feedback in the quality of participants on-the-job work projects.

We found exhilaration and intrinsic reward every step of the way. Training adults was the best it has ever been.

No comments:

Post a Comment