Delivering training from home – selecting the platform

As most of us are staying at home and distancing ourselves physically, organisations are evaluating the best way to offer education programs. Cavell has significant experience in instructor led on-line classes so we wanted to share our experience and thoughts.

If you decide instructor led courses online are your best option, there are a few areas to consider:

  1. What platform to use for the remote classroom
  2. How to structure the course
  3. Instructor preparedness for mastering an on-line environment

In this first installment we will look at assessing what tool to use for the remote classroom.

There are a wide variety of solutions that can be used to teach remotely. Cavell has held classes on solutions ranging from consumer Skype to Zoom to Webex / Teams. All the tools work well enough that you can conduct a meaningful class. The primary deciding factor is often what your company or client has chosen as a meeting and collaboration tool and your level of need for security. That said if you have a significant program of training to move on-line, it might be appropriate to choose a tool specifically to match training needs.

When we selected a tool seven years ago for online teaching, we chose Adobe Connect and still use it today for one of our clients. I will summarize a few of our needs in the hope that they will trigger your own thoughts on selection criteria:

Student lists, security and communication

  • Registration lists for each course normally arrive as excel files, we needed an easy way to enter the student list to the course, while not losing the ability to track the student across multiple courses.
    • Adobe has a nice way to create groups that can be added easily to a course. You can upload a new list to the group as often as you want, and it identifies whether the person is already in student database or not based on login ID.
  • Depending on the course, we were more or less concerned about secure access (e.g. the student had to be pre-registered and using passwords).
    • Adobe allows access to be either by login and password or open access. It also supported an intermediate solution of the host approving the guest (not pre-registered or forgot credentials) on a case by case basis as they attempted to enter.
  • In addition to chat streams we needed to be able to email student’s information about the course in a simple fashion.
    • Adobe allows emails to be set-up and sent to specific groups within the course or to all course attendees. This allows our administrators to easily send reminders, special communications on logistics or even emergency changes if, for example, an instructor’s internet is down.

Look and feel of the classroom

  • We often run courses on behalf of another company. Being able to pre-setup rooms with appropriate backgrounds, lobby messages helps us look more professional.
  • Making sure that the screen (or ‘room’) the student sees is what the instructor intends and making various types of information available.
    • Adobe had some nice functions allowing you to construct rooms with pre-defined layouts of various sub elements (shared presentation, white board, pdf download links, video stream of instructor and or participants, chat window, participant list, on-line quizzes….).
    • We often had several different rooms set-up inside a course that an instructor could flip between depending on focus of the agenda topic. During feedback phase a room might have some survey questions pre-set up with a big chat area, during formal instruction the presentation was front and centre with small boxes for the instructor video and a smaller chat box.

Reporting and recording

  • We had to report on who attended and whether the student followed the entire course – Adobe had more than adequate reporting functions.
  • We also wanted to make recordings of the class available to the students that were registered, for make-up sessions or because they needed to review some material.
    • Adobe stores recordings centrally and you can use the same class lists to determine access. It is easy to enable and then take down access on the schedule you determine.

Good luck in thinking through your on-line education approach. In the next blog post we will look at how to structure the course. Please share your own experiences with us – you are always welcome to contact us at [email protected]

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