5 Common Virtual Learning Issues and Solutions

COVID-19 notwithstanding, there are many benefits to consider when making the shift to a virtual learning platform from traditional instructor-led delivery. Consider advanced flexibility, productivity savings, and the ability to make your virtual learning programs part of a blended solution. However, organizations encounter challenges that prevent employees from experiencing the best that virtual learning can deliver. Here are 5 of the most common virtual learning issues faced by people in the workplace and some suggestions on how to address them head-on.

Issue #1: Virtual Zombies

Many virtual learning issues begin with the never-ending text slides that feel more like a talking head than actual virtual engagement.

Unfortunately, this means participants come into the session with the expectation of having a lack of engagement which is the main reason virtual learning programs fail, lack of motivation. People are simply not interested in participating in training that is boring.

Solution: Turning your instructor-led programs into virtual learning means taking extra time to include dynamic, fun and interactive engagements. Consider adding challenges, storytelling opportunities, the opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate.  See this post with 22 virtual learning tips.

Issue #2: Technical Difficulties

By their very nature, virtual learning environments and platforms are subject to technical issues, such as security, network, and bandwidth glitches. When it comes to virtual learning issues, technical problems are one of the main stumbling blocks for virtual sessions. There are compatibility issues with operating systems, browsers or equipment. All this adds to a frustrating experience and reduces overall engagement and creating disruption.

Solution: The 2 P’s! Practice and planning. Make sure you’re aware of the types of issues your virtual training platform is most likely to experience so that you can prevent them from happening or if they do happen, how to quickly react to them. As you begin to implement virtual training, the need for practicing with your tool of choice becomes critical. Be sure to create a troubleshooting checklist for participants to follow before they go online and send it to participants ahead of time. This may be a simple checklist document of a short screencast video walking them through the virtual program.

Problem 3: People Have Trouble Connecting

The time for your virtual learning session is now, but you’re all alone? People may have issues connecting to the virtual platform.

Solution: Before the virtual program starts, email a troubleshooting checklist to the participants just in case these issues arise. Start with these basic items:

  1. Check for the correct URL.
  2. Check for the correct time zone.
  3. Re-enter the password.
  4. Check for browser compatibility. Try using a different browser.
  5. Close all applications, clear cache, delete temp files and cookies

Here is a more complete list from Cisco to help you troubleshoot your technology.

Problem 4: Participants Want to Talk to People

Virtual Learning programs have many advantages, but participants still want human interaction, with the ability to have conversations with their facilitator and peers. The virtual learning issue becomes larger when virtual learning is taken too seriously by the designer and facilitator and they fail to incorporate elements of fun, enjoyment or discovery.

Solution: Create collaboration and group meeting spaces. One solution to encourage personal interaction is to incorporate collaboration tools to promote group work and cohorts where participants can share their work and promote the exchange of knowledge. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Skype can be embedded as part of your virtual delivery.

Problem 5: Distracted Learners

Participating in a virtual learning session from home is AWESOME, people can stay in their jammies with their favorite munchies and participate from the comfort of their favorite chair. That said, it does require self-discipline. At home, people are surrounded by a host of distracting things: Dogs, cats, baby goats on the internet…we know some people take personal calls, go to the kitchen to refill their coffee, check emails etc. while the session is in progress. The level of distraction increases the longer the session goes.

Solution: To remedy this problem, set the expectation. In your pre-session communications, alert people to the fact that the expectations are for full engagement. Give them examples of how the activities will work and how people are expected to respond. Then turn theory-based content into fun, engaging and interactive sessions by using virtual breakrooms, pair, and shares with smaller groups, conduct polls, ask a variety of open-ended questions. Use the chat feature, and call on people by name to bring wallflowers into the conversation.

To Wrap This Up

Virtual learning delivery is quickly becoming the new norm, but at this stage, the unknown can cause confusion and disconnection with participants. Creating a communication plan to help build expectations and technology literacy will help participants gain confidence in order to succeed in their new adventure.

Let Learning Rebels help you. If you need to move your ILT training into a virtual setting, but don’t have the time and bandwidth to create quality content. Learning Rebels can help. We take your ILT curriculum and convert it into an engaging virtual program. We also include facilitator notes and tips with a participant guidebook. Contact us now!

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Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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