“COVID-19 has forced schools and universities around the world to adopt online learning,” That is the opening line of the World Economic Forum article “COVID-19: 10 steps for transferring your course online” dated 26 March 2020.
COVID-19 is the big push for everyone to go Collaborate Digitally, for education especially into Digital Transformation 2.0. Just to prove how important this has become: Udemy, one the largest commercial online course platforms, has recently managed to raise US$50m amid an uncertain global market, valuing the company at US$2bn.
Why is education part of Digital Transformation 2.0? People are the key pillar of DX 2.0, with the maxim of “Leaving no one behind”. And education is the very first step of every organisation to engaging its workforce in transformation.
If you, as an educator, are organising online training for the first time. You’ll want to give your students the best experience so that they will always remember you as their best digital teacher/trainer/facilitator.
Here are a some tips to get your online training teleconference off to a roaring start!
I am making this a 4-parter with weekly releases of the Tips covering:
- After the training sessions
Part 1: Preparing
Realtime or On-demand
- Realtime courses can be run on any conferencing platform that allows you to share video and desktop (for slides, whiteboarding, pictures, videos)
- Realtime interactive courses can be existing content but have more breaks (every 20 min or so) and keep checking with the students for understanding
- On-demand course require a platform to store your video and have ability to stop, rewind, replay and if possible speed up or slow down video speed
- On-demand courses should have a platform for students to have Q&A after the course as support. Please let me know if you will need help with such a support platform.
- Do you want the live course to be available as a recording at a later date? Think about sending the link to the students when the recording is available.
- If on-demand, break your course into short modules, each about 3 to 7 minutes long to allow easy access and digestion. The attention span does not last longer that 20 minutes.
- For on-demand courses, please don’t read from slides. Students can read slide by pausing the video. They can also rewind, replay so no need to keep repeating, recapping unless you want to highlight important points.
- For complex or important concepts, put them into separate slides/diagrams/charts. Don’t squeeze too many things into one slide because they cannot be seen in low resolution or on a mobile screen.
- Speak slower so that all trainees can understand even when the audio quality is bad due to connection problems. But don’t keep repeating as students can rewind/replay for on-demand courses.
- You can have online assessments such as multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks using Google Forms.
- Projects can be assigned during the session but done offline and submitted via email or uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive. Students can use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides for free using their Google account.
Technology (video, audio, slides)
- Make sure you check your equipment’s compatibility with the features of the platform (Zoom, Skype, WEBEX…) BEFORE you prepare your course material or go live.
- As trainer, get a good webcam with 720p resolution for your PC, or use a laptop stand to position the camera at your eye level. The worst is a webcam that looks up your nose or looks into the glaring ceiling light with your darkened face in the foreground.
- Ensure that your students are able to have a good audible channel with your microphone, webcam mic. If necessary, use a headset with microphone to give the best quality.
- Check that the video resolution can be viewed on the students’ most widely used devices. No point having high definition video when students are using mobile phones with mobile broadband that have poor connections.
- Lighting is everything in video. Make sure you have adequate light for your video. You can use daylight or warm white LED lights but avoid fluorescent lights because they flicker and make you look green.
The ideal is 3-point lighting but that is a small studio set up if you have time and money. You can also simply invest in a circular LED light that vloggers use.
- Ensure that your slides can be seen on low resolution video, especially text and pictures that make important points
- To be more inclusive for students everywhere, it is good to send the slides as PDF file to students before start of class. Or have them download from Google Drive, Dropbox or similar. This will allow them to follow the material even if connection is bad. They will only need to dial in to the conference to listen. Video is not necessary.
- Finally, have everything running on battery or uninterruptible power as Myanmar is prone to blackouts. You don’t want class to be dismissed due to sudden blackout.
- Finally finally, if it is extremely important to conduct your class in a specific time slot, please plan to have an alternative platform or at least another conference account with same provider in another country AS A BACKUP. Outages DO HAPPEN.
Student skills prerequisite
- State skill and knowledge prerequisites, objectives and content details clearly before enrollment.
- We don’t want them to attend and then ask for refunds or give bad ratings because the course does not meet their needs or is beyond their skill level. It’s different from face-to-face because we cannot have separate discussions or interactions during coffee breaks etc to clarify and take care of individual needs.
- Have a channel (email, Messenger chat, phone call) for students to clarify online before they sign up for course
Student equipment prerequisite
- Make sure students have perquisite equipment (eg broadband internet connection, laptop or tablet if needed, microphones/headsets/webcams)
- If the audio quality or connection cannot be guaranteed for a live event, have a phone number for students to call into (toll free preferred)
Student Q&A at enrollment
- Give them a channel (email, Messenger, phone) to ask questions before enrollment or joining the course
Student interaction during and after course
- Plan this into the sessions. Do they ask questions verbally or using chat? If the group is more than 20, chat is the best. It may become difficult to control too many students speaking together.
- Some platforms allow breakout rooms so the main session attendees can “breakout” into different tracks or project groups for discussions, just like the real world.
- If live remote training, will you only allow audio discussion only or include video or only chat? This will determine the platform you use, if broadband is required, you must mute attendees who have equipment problem or are in a noisy environment.
Next week, we will cover what to do BEFORE the training session starts. Have a good week and stay safe!