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Teamwork and collaboration are easy to implement and nurture in the classroom setting. The natural energy between you as a trainer with your learners and learners being with other learners creates a dynamic learning environment that leads to effective communication, conflict resolution, and creative thinking skills.
The move to virtual training has no doubt been challenging and has put a bit of a damper on the otherwise normal in-classroom teamwork buzz. But believe it or not, encouraging teamwork in an e-learning environment can be just as effective and enjoyable for the trainer and learners!
Here are five ways you can boost collaboration and teamwork in your own e-learning sessions while focusing on participant-centered training methods.
First and foremost, as the trainer make sure you foster collaboration in your e-learning session by setting up standards that everyone must follow. When face-to-face contact is absent from learning or class settings, communication comfort levels change. Learners might feel more comfortable to say things on the online chat window that they wouldn’t say in person. While it can be helpful for otherwise introverted learners, it can also lead to sharing rude comments or not communicating mindfully by some. All learners must feel safe and comfortable to share questions and thoughts online without a fear of being bullied by others. If you set standards ahead of time, leaners will be more likely to contribute in authentic ways.
Learners require the chance to share feedback, ask questions, address their concerns, and talk about their own experiences both during and after an e-learning session. With no physical meeting space, this can be a challenge. The good news is there are many platforms that learners can use to spark discussions online, including social media, forums, or even blogs. As the trainer, you can create a LinkedIn or Facebook group prior to an e-learning session and invite learners to join. As you kick off the session, make sure learners sign in and continue to access it after.
Develop projects or assignments that encourage learners to chat with one another, either through video discussions or instant messaging after the session. You can even make it a class requirement to boost participation. This is a great way to get learners talking and interacting with one another to make the learning process engaging and more exciting. Plus, it can help them build or grow their own career networks and connections!
Remember the good old days of completing group projects in school? Collaborative group activities in the professional world still offer a great way for class participants to work together to reach a common goal or better understand the course material. Not only do learners have the chance to share their creativity, but they can use their collective brain power to show their understanding of the course content. Collaborative group activities allow participants to benefit from the experience and skills of their peers while building communication and teamwork skills in an online training setting. A couple ideas include having small groups create a blog focused on a specific topic or create a PowerPoint presentation diving into one piece of related course content – both of which can later be shared out to the entire class.
It's smart to include scenarios into group collaboration exercises during e-learning training, because they allow learners to connect what they are learning back to the real world. It offers a low-risk way to help learners develop soft or hard skills with each other, and they will find it engaging while providing the freedom to explore real world consequences without the risk. For example, if conflict resolution is the topic, create a virtual scenario that features characters and various decisions learners must make to resolve a common business issue. By working with others in real time, they can get a firm grasp on how their reactions and behaviors impact others without worry of real-life repercussions. From there, they can work to alter undesirable behaviors and build skills for successful conflict resolution while dealing with others in the real world. Gamification, role-playing, and “choose your own adventure” are other ways to add scenarios into your e-learning training.
Virtual training and e-learning isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s key to make the best use of technology to ensure trainers and learners alike succeed! Fostering collaboration in online learning environments can be done with just a bit of effort, work, and innovation. Visit The Bob Pike Group’s virtual training page for a lot more tips, tricks, workshops, and free content around everything virtual training.