From the classroom to Zoom

When I wrote my last article on March 3rd about my journey from an e-learning instructional designer to a facilitator and instructional designer of in-person workshops, I had no idea that I would go through a new journey in 2020. Covid-19 forced a lot of companies to shut down their offices and sent many employees home; quickly, the decision was made to convert all workshops to virtual.

I had planned to deliver a few sessions of Communicating for Leadership Success (a DDI workshop) and Crucial Accountability (a VitalSmarts workshop). While I had delivered CLS multiple times in person, it was my first year delivering Crucial Accountability. As I cancelled the workshops scheduled in the spring, many AbbVie colleagues asked me when I was planning to offer the workshops and were eager to attend. I realized that I would have to make the jump to virtual workshops. To be honest, I think I was a bit scared at first. I had never delivered these types of workshops virtually, and had limited knowledge about the features available for virtual training in WebEx, Zoom or Teams. I also had limited time since I am now working mainly as a HR Business Partner. So I planned for a progressive approach:

• First, I signed up for a virtual workshop. My goal, in addition to learning new skills, was also to learn from our amazing facilitator Mike Delgado, watching how he was using Zoom features for interactive activities. I learned a lot about using polls, breakrooms, and the annotation tool!

• Then, I scheduled a Communicating for Leadership Success workshop, since I know the content very well, so the only challenge was to adapt it to virtual. DDI provided me with an adapted slide deck for virtual delivery, and I customized it a bit more, trying to leverage Zoom features in the best way. I delivered the workshop in September, and despite a few technical challenges, it went well and I was able to learn a few extra tips and tricks about Zoom and what types of activities work well (or not so much).

• After a successful delivery of CLS, I now feel ready to deliver Crucial Accountability. It will be my first time delivering the workshop, and it will be virtual. I have worked with VirtualSmarts to get an adapted slide deck for virtual delivery, and reviewed the deck multiple times, preparing my activities, preparing my polls in Zoom, testing a few features in advance to ensure it will work well the day of the workshop.

If you are in the same situation and wondering how you can switch to virtual, that is an approach I would definitely recommend. First, watch another facilitator deliver a virtual workshop using the software you’re planning to use. Next, plan for a virtual workshop for some content you already master. Finally, when you are comfortable with the tool and with instructional design for virtual workshops, you will likely be able to deliver new content virtually.

Covid-19 has definitely changed the landscape for learning and development, and while I can’t wait to get back to the classroom (hopefully in 2021), I also hope I will be able to keep offering some workshops virtually for our remote and virtual colleagues, so everybody, no matter what their location is, can attend the same workshops and collaborate with colleagues from all around the world.

I also want to give a special shout-out to DDI, VitalSmarts and all the companies who had to adapt very fast during the pandemic, and did a great job a providing the resources and tools needed to facilitators like myself to help us deliver virtual workshops successfully.