Look at each of the questions in turn and think carefully about how they relate to your own training experiences. Then click on each box to see tips, advice, guidance and further information.
Use synchronous and asynchronous tools and platforms to support remote learning
1. Think about any online training sessions which you have attended. Which did you enjoy the most? Why? Which did you enjoy the least? Why?
Any good training sessions, whether online or face-to-face, should encourage active learning and develop a good trainer–trainee relationship. Online training sessions need a balance between ‘synchronous work’ (in real time) and ‘asynchronous work’ (in your own time).
Some teachers prefer the personal nature of working with an online class. Others prefer the freedom of working on their own and submitting work in their own time. You may have enjoyed both types of interaction. The important point to remember is that online training must also be interactive and participant focused.
2. What type of online training do you think is most relevant for the teachers you are working with? Why?
The type of session you choose can depend on a number of factors.
- What access to devices do the teachers have?
- How much data is required, and how much will it cost?
- Is there a need for people to work with a group?
- Do teachers have many assignments to complete?
- Is there a lot of reading to do?
You can use both synchronous and asynchronous sessions to communicate with the teachers, and to get them to interact with each other. However, if most of the work is reading and completing writing tasks or assignments, you might include more asynchronous sessions. If you want teachers to form a group and develop relationships with you and the other participants, include more synchronous sessions.
If access to devices and data is limited, you would have to balance synchronous and asynchronous tasks. Cell phones are good for chats and viewing videos, but less so for reading long documents. Computers are better for reading and writing tasks. Look carefully at the context of the teachers before making decisions, and where possible involve them in the decision-making process.
3. Think about the context of your trainees. What online platforms can they use? How will you use these within the training?
The training context will influence which online platforms they can use. Before the training, try to get profiles of individual teachers and the whole group so that your training model works as well as possible.
Here are some of the things to consider.
- What level of technology knowledge do they have?
- How much access to the internet do they have?
- What devices do they have, e.g. laptop, tablet, phone?
- How much data volume and bandwidth do they have available?
- Do they use any social media platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? If so, which ones?
- Do they use any messenger apps, e.g. WhatsApp, Telegram?
- What type of content do you think they will be able to access, e.g. videoconferencing, online courses, messenger apps, social media?
4. What kind of content should you share when training online? How can you do this effectively?
When doing face-to-face training, you may often distribute handouts or present audio/video. In online training, you may want to do something similar, and you need to know the best ways in which to do this.
Email is an easy way to share documents which can be used in both synchronous and asynchronous tasks. You can send a very large document using a file-transfer programme such as WeTransfer. You can also upload a document to a file-sharing website like Google Drive. Both these sites are free. However, teachers may not read documents that are too long, so keep the information to a shorter format.
If you are using a messenger service like WhatsApp to send a document, make sure it is in a PDF format so that it can be viewed on any device. PDF documents also cannot be changed accidentally by participants.
Pictures or videos can be shared on any platform. However, anything that is too big or uses too much data to download may be a problem. Use short clips and save pictures as JPEGs.
Sharing information in synchronous sessions using live lessons on WhatsApp or Telegram can be done via text or voice note. On Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you can give information by speaking – the same way you would in a face-to-face session. The difference between speaking to participants face-to-face and on videoconferencing is that it’s more difficult to see the teachers and their reactions.
5. What challenges might you face in making online training interactive? How could you minimise these?
Online training may have many challenges. It’s important that you have the right mental attitude to dealing with these challenges, so that the training is as effective as possible. Synchronous training often provides the most challenges.
Here are some typical examples and what you could do.
- ‘No one is participating – I feel as though I am talking into an empty space’: This is very common at the beginning of synchronous training – just be patient and encouraging, and teachers will eventually join in. People may be afraid to contribute orally – if so, a good starting point may be for them to write in the chat box.
- ‘I don’t have enough data for online training’: Where possible, use a low-data platform, such as WhatsApp or Telegram, to teach live sessions. You can make these sessions personal and informative by using emojis and making comments which encourage the teachers. Save live videoconference sessions for groups that have access to data.
- ‘We had a power cut at the time of the lesson’: Always offer a follow-up option so that people who miss a session can catch up. If they have missed a videoconference session, offer them a recording of the session.
- ‘My connection is poor’: This is a common problem in many areas. Schedule short lessons and offer catch-up sessions when the connection is better. Don’t feel you have to do your sessions with the video on, if this is the situation. In areas where poor connection is common, schedule more asynchronous sessions.
- ‘I can’t hear/see what is being said in the videoconference session. Please help me now’: Troubleshooting at the same time as running a session is difficult. If possible, get the help of a colleague (or one of the participants who understands technology) who can address problems while you run the session. Provide guidelines ahead of time on how to check the settings on the computer.
- ‘I lost the documents you sent so I can’t do the work’: Take time at the beginning to instruct the teachers on how to save documents in a folder. Good planning and preparation helps.
- ‘I haven’t got time to do all this asynchronous work’: At times you will need to set and meet deadlines. If teachers can’t meet these deadlines, for whatever reason, see if there is a way in which you can help them. If there isn’t, they may need to do the course at a later date.
What changes are you going to make in your training sessions to make them more interactive?
This is up to you. Being well prepared before the course, and being flexible during the training, helps develop the confidence of both you and your teachers.