Our DiSC Training Virtual Classroom is Live!

Think virtual training is, be default, boring and terrible? Here is what two of our recent participants had to say:

...thanks for an amazing experience. - N. Hernandez

Thank you for a great class, packed with information! Would you be able to send me the link and code for the class evaluation? - D. Kamp

Virtual training done right. Who asks to take the evaluation???

In December, 2019 we began upgrading our video studio to offer top-notch online virtual DiSC training. Little did we know, just a few months later, that virtual training would be the only option as group meetings were canceled and banned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Virtual Training Classroom-Studio

Our virtual training classroom was built on top of our video studio, which provides a high level of production quality. While decent results can be had by using a higher-end s, we weren't satisfied with those results. Instead, we use a cinema camera with a boom microphone (specifically tuned to the facilitator's voice) and professional lighting. A wired, high-speed Internet connection provides a stable connection with 5G wireless service as a backup. Our video switcher allows us to choose among multiple video sources as our primary feed.

It's All About Engagement

The knock against virtual training was always that it was tedious and boring. The truth is that bad training has always been tedious and boring! In any training program, if the material and instructor aren't interesting, we human beings just tune out. We don't even have to try--it just happens.

The trick, then, is to keep the learners engaged. Admittedly, getting and keeping that engagement is much harder in a virtual setting. Harder, but not impossible.

The Classroom Setup

The first thing to do is ensure that the virtual classroom is not distracting. A learner can still focus through a bad picture, poor lighting or muffled or jittery sound. But overcoming those seemingly minor issues requires additional mental work. That work has to be done by the same brain that is trying to learn something new from the material. This is why we have gone to such trouble to maximize our setup.

Engagement suffers when you can't see the trainer, so they need to be visible at all times. This wasn't the norm before COVID-19, but all of those suddenly-virtual meetings changed everyone's expectations. We primarily use Zoom as our virtual training platform, and it allows the facilitator to be visible along with screen shares. Our setup allows the facilitator to be visible at all times, even on platforms that don't support that natively.

Eye contact is another important component of engagement. There is quite a lot for a facilitator to monitor during a session and the idea setup requires three screens. The bigger and farther apart those screens are, the farther away the facilitator has to look to see the material, the participant's videos and the meeting controls. Our setup to minimizes the area the trainer has to visually scan, greatly reducing distracting glances and off-camera gazes.

The Classroom Platform

Once the classroom is set up optimally, the next component of engagement is leveraging the platform to require almost-constant interaction. While traditional call-and-response as used during in-person training has its place, it can be cumbersome with larger groups. Chat, whiteboards (or other annotations), visual responses, polls and breakout rooms should all be used consistently and with high frequency to keep learners participating. We primarily use Zoom, but the leading platforms have very similar capabilities.

One of the reasons we settled on Zoom was that it allows the trainer to see up to 49 videos in a gallery view. We limit our class sizes to 12-18, so we'll never approach that limit, but some platforms allow only 9 videos to be visible at a time. Without a view of participants, it is hard to monitor engagement and impossible to use a simple interaction like, "give me a thumbs up".

The Virtual Training Curriculum

So far we seem pretty focused on "the hardware", but even the best setup is nothing without good curriculum, i.e., "the software". We've adapted in-person curriculum for several programs now and we've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. With the advent of Catalyst, we now have virtual-ready curriculum built into the Workplace Facilitation Kit and the Agile EQ Catalyst curriculum is days away. For the remaining applications, we are updating the curriculum to take full advantage of the virtual classroom platform.

If you're interested in having us conduct virtual training for your organization or if you're interested in hosting it yourself, use our online calendar to schedule a meeting. We'd love to talk to you about virtual DiSC training!

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