Key similarities and differences between in-person and webinar training

They’re like apples and oranges.

They couldn’t be more different.

And yet, there are ways in which they’re more similar than you think.

How is this the case? And how does this impact the way we approach in-person training vs. webinar training?

In this blog, we’ll discuss our key observations about the differences and similarities between the two…

Unique aspects of in-person training:

In a physical classroom, we need to be mindful of how we’re setting up the room in order to maximize engagement and interaction.

How many tables will we need? What supplies belong on the tables? What supplies should I wait to introduce until it’s time for a certain activity? How will I display/project my slides and other media?

In terms of how often we involve participants in learning activities, research shows that we need to do so at least every 10 minutes in a classroom.

Unique aspects of virtual training:

In a webinar context, we need to be more mindful of how we’re using technology to engage our participants.

Are we using annotation tools? Stamping? Typing on the screen? Drawing? Chat box? Breakout rooms? Polling? How often will we invite participants to unmute their mics? What role will a producer play in assisting with the technical aspect?

And we also need to be especially mindful of how we’re monitoring engagement, given that it’s not always as easy to read people’s body language and gauge their understanding.

While we don’t need to set up a physical classroom, we still need to consider what supplies we’ll ship to our learners in order to make the webinar more interactive.

And in a webinar, we can’t afford to wait every 10 minutes to involve learners. They’ll get distracted more easily. Instead, we need to involve them every 5 minutes.

Similarities between in-person and virtual training:

Regardless of the medium, we need to utilize instructor-led participant-centered training strategies that involve our learners and help them take ownership of their learning process.

Always give learners a physical break every 90 minutes (of 11 to 16 minutes), and a mental break every 20 minutes (move on to a new subtopic).

Both contexts will require the use of royalty-free music that fits the mood of each activity, whether it’s during upbeat games or silent reflections.

End all activity instructions with, “What may I clarify?” This ensures that learners feel comfortable asking their clarifying questions, so that they can be as confident and engaged as possible during the activity.

Offer a feedback form that learners can fill out, so that you can serve them and learners like them better in the future.

Be intentional about how you’re using slides to simply reinforce your content visually and create opportunities for interaction.

Put complex content in a handout (not in the slides), and utilize the handout to foster interaction (taking notes, drawing, filling in blanks, etc.)

And lastly, regardless of what supplies or snacks you’re putting out or shipping to your learners, what is your budget for items like that?

Which similarity or difference was most eye-opening for you?

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