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7 Habits of Highly Effective Remote Learning Designers

Warren Mara, Martin Tanner, Danny Norcross

Designing training for the virtual environment can feel overwhelming. So many platforms, so much content to get through, so little ability to be there 'in person'. 

The good news is that we’ve been doing it forever and want to share our experience with you. We hope you benefit from this blog post and enjoy designing an awesome remote learning experience.

This is Part Two of a two-part blog on remote learning. See Part One here

We’ve found that effective remote learning designers do the following.

  

1. Design for learner outcomes – not just content delivery

You can create amazing remotely facilitated learning experiences. Taking a human-centred design approach forces you to truly get to the bottom of what your audience needs before you start throwing around solutions. So, let's make it clear: availability does not imply quality. Solid design principles (and being a good listener) does. 


2. Create a remote learner persona

If the initial design was solid, those materials and exercises were based around a traditional learner in a classroom, right? In a remote setting, those things are not the same. Instead, get into the mindset of the remote learner through a persona and begin understanding what their personal environment is like. It’s a sure-fire way to ensure the learner stays front of mind throughout development. 


3. Put the design in a blender  

You’ve unlocked a world of resources for your learners to have creative experiences and develop mastery. Think about engaging learners in the following ways: 

  • Before the session with questions about their expectations and goals plus a small amount of content
  • During the session using a repeatable structure – think-pair-share, for example – and maximise the team work to apply both their own experience as well as the small amount of content they have already come prepared with.

Why lift and shift a whole day of classroom learning when you can break it up, allowing for application on the job, more valuable coaching by the facilitator, and the creation of community of learners with shared resources after the session? See our 1-page Spectrum of Remote Possibility guide to remote learning approaches.


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4. Recognise that they are, in fact, still in a face-to-face classroom 

Don't compromise. We've seen improv theatre being taught remotely and Escape Rooms created using OneNote. You and your learners will forget that you're on a remote session if you do it right. Behind you is a physical space - in case you had forgotten - visible to the camera. Tilt your webcam up and maximise that space like a pro.

See Part One of this blog for some good rules of thumb for attention span, number of attendees and changing the state regularly.

 

5. Facilitators need to be developed too

Your design should be done with maximum creativity – a strong 'how might we?' problem statement will set you off on the right foot. However, what you cannot lose sight of is the need to develop your facilitators too. Line managers often get lumped with being the ones to carry out the delivery, but a line manager ≠ confident facilitator. You have to bring them with you during the design to ensure both their confidence and competence.

 

6. Consider the logistics

  • Devices and Connectivity: do your learners have these?
  • Security Access: not all apps/platforms are made equal here
  • Accessibility: design for all
  • Breaks: put them in!
  • Application after the session: training without application is just a nice chat
  • Measurement: how are you measuring mastery? Observed behaviour? 

  

7. Maximise the agency 

Unlike in a classroom, every single attendee can have equal (and enormous) agency in the learning experience. Think about your learning in terms of 'mastery' and look to Kolb’s theory of experiential learning. Who doesn't normally get a voice in your sessions? Design ‘inclusion’ in and design out ‘only the loudest voice’. 


If you want help moving your training to a remote or blended delivery model, or feel like your trainers could benefit from a short session with our experts to sharpen their remote delivery skills, get in touch with us.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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