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In today’s episode of the SAP Education NewsCast, we are happy to have Mark Green from SAP UK as a guest. Mark is an experienced trainer and learning community moderator for many years and is always trying out new ways to teach online. Together with Thomas Jenewein, they look at actionable tips for virtual learning & training from warm-ups/intros up to keeping the attention and motivation span.


Challenges in virtual training

There are a lot of different challenges that come with the virtual classroom setting, compared to the traditional classroom.

One of the biggest issues that trainers face is the maintenance of attention over a longer period of time. When you are sitting at home, you are basically confronted with a lot of distractors – like your smartphone, applications that run on your computer, noise that comes from the background. You do not have to deal with these things in a classroom usually.

But when sitting at home or in the office, you cannot fully control the environment and you get distracted more easily.

This is why it is important to surround yourself with things that are linked to the topic you are dealing with and create an environment that contains only healthy distractions, like having the browser opened in order to deep dive into a certain topic that is being covered in the course of the class.

Also, activating the webcam is also a good tool in most of the cases and can help trainers to encourage engagement.

Is virtual training as interactive as classroom training?

Virtual setups can be as interactive as classroom trainings. But it is important to support this by engaging with the community from the very beginning and raising the interaction level with simple tools like polls or by simply asking questions. It is very important to enable participation – but it is also required that the students do want to participate actively as well. In the end of the day it is common that those who participate also get the most out of the trainings and generate a better experience than those who do not participate.

Technical issues in virtual training – a major problem?

Of course, this topic is amplified in the virtual context compared to classroom trainings. In traditional classrooms, the equipment is already delivered, and everything is set up correctly, while in the virtual classroom setting there is of course a risk that technical issues may arise. Therefore, it is important that the students set up their environment in advance and test their technical set up. Of course, SAP for example also provides the students with helpful links and tutorials on how to set up everything accordingly.

Lack of personal support in virtual training?

A virtual classroom can vary in size. When there are like 200 participants, of course it becomes hard to connect with the instructor individually. But SAP Live Class is much more intimate and there are no large groups. Having such a format, the students can interact with the instructors at any time, while it is also possible to make use of functions like the screen sharing when discussing a certain topic or problem.

Furthermore, a good instructor also should check on the progress of the students on a regular basis and also must make sure that the student makes some progress. Mark e.g. uses a seperate break-out room as private clinic where he can meet students who have issues - so others are not that distracted.

All in all, it can be said that interaction may be more difficult in a virtual setting of course, but the technical prerequisites for a deep interaction are already there.

Tipps for students and learners in online learning

It is important to prepare the set up early before the training and not on the day of the training itself. As already mentioned, it is possible that technical issues may arise and thus it is necessary to have some time in-between to fix them.

Furthermore, it is beneficial to invest in a good set up in general! Do not buy a cheap headset with a poor audio quality. Make sure that your monitor has a decent size or even get a second monitor in addition. It is important to understand that these factors influence the overall experience! The equipment should not interrupt the learning process at any point of time.

Furthermore, students also should participate from the very beginning, answer questions, interact with the community instead of just sitting and watching. Make the effort to participate! Make it a habit to answer questions! It will be totally worth it!

And one of the most important tips: Do not forget to take a break from time to time! Get up and go for a short walk, stretch, grab a coffee or something to eat.

Tipps for virtual instructors

Not only the students need to prepare for the virtual classroom, but it is also advisable for the instructors to do some preparation!

For example, it is very helpful to have a second monitor looking at the videocameras in order to have an overview over the class. Also make sure that you have some good lighting and maybe also a virtual background in order to minimize distractions. Of course, having a good camera and a headset with a good audio quality are mandatory artifacts as well!

Take into consideration other tools that may help improve the learning experience, such as using an iPad as a white board or a camera for a pysical whiteboard for example. Find out more as always by listening to the podcast.

Shownotes: Here are a few more interesting links:
SAP Training resources

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