Before I tell you about my experiences and learnings from preparing, following up and implementing live-online seminars, I’ll let 1 of the participants of my Train-the-Trainer 1 Live-Online-Trainings Course for the NCP-Academy say a word about it first:
Marie Horniecka, Technology Centre CAS, Czech Republic
“You will definitely not get bored during the TTT1 Live-Online-Training Course as this training goes beyond the usual format of E-learning! It is full of interactive exercises, where participants are asked for opinions, comments or to fill in a quiz. Theoretical parts are interwoven by practical examples in order to imagine easier how the brain works and how to use this knowledge in practice. In addition, you are motivated to do a little home study to complete a teamwork which you later present to other participants. All this in a very simple and effective way. I think this Live-Online-Training Course provided a solid ground for us to challenge the old-fashioned practices of trainings, to implement new training methods and to get some fresh inspiration.”
As you obviously know by now (from the various promo-mailings and the new website I’m now officially in the online training business 🙂
In my last blog, titled “I’m going to go offline!” Really? I already described my thoughts about the ambivalent existence between “being online” and “’switching off’ sometimes.”
So how on earth did I get such an audacious idea? In 2015 I already began toying with the idea, treating myself to a one-to-one training on the topic “Online Moderation” conducted by Bettina Kerschbaumer-Schramek. But the actual trigger was an enquiry by the NCP-Academy, asking if I could online my Train-the-Trainer Seminar. I was a bit sceptical when I started looking for “webinar” courses, but eventually found what I was looking for with Sabine Piarry. And so it came to pass that I completed 9 online sessions in the early summer of 2016, learning the basics, and as “homework” developed the Train-the-Trainer “Live-Online-Training“  for the NCP Academy while at the same time my very own series of interactive live-online training courses “Workshop-Moderation”.
Sabine also recommended Katja Königstein, who introduced me to the possibilities, secrets and subtleties of Adobe Connect and coached me in interactive live-online training design. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, because without them I’d never have had the courage to follow this through.
I also owe much inspiration and confidence to the book 150 Creative Webinar Methods, by Zamyat M. Klein.
Happily, I was able to launch the first trial balloon together with DLR, who handled the technology. What a huge relief! I would have been washed up without the following people, because the content alone was more than enough of a challenge. Many, many thanks, dear friends! There is another special report written by them and how they managed the technical aspects, below.
I don’t even want to think about how many hours I invested in in preparing 4 interactive live-online training modules, each lasting between 1.5 – 2 hours.
But first – read on, it will make your guessing task easier!
So: what are all the things you need to prepare for live-online training courses?
For a start, the slide design is completely different, a factor I totally underestimated. I thought to myself “Hey, no sweat. You still have your neurodidactics slides. All you have to do is adapt them a bit and Bob’s your uncle!” Wishful thinking! In the virtual world, you have to work with more pictures than in on-site seminars, and this fact morphed into a lot of work: looking for pictures (luckily there are many well-stocked, free online image databases) adapting the texts and formulating messages more precisely. Why? In onsite seminars you can naturally present content more easily and vividly because you can unconsciously underscore what is said with your body language. This isn’t possible in online training. Moreover, time constraints are usually not as rigid in onsite seminars, allowing for more flexibility. In online training everything is precisely timed if you want to stay within the timeframe (which I consider recommendable :-)) and this brings us to the next point:
The process in detail: I had refined my planning (which was already detailed) once again for the live-online training courses, because the specific requirements for technical implementation had to be there, including single sentences and/or questions that needed to be prepared by DLR in the online tool. In my case this meant rethinking everything completely because flexibility shrinks to practically nothing. In Onsite-Training I follow the motto “prepare in-depth and in detail so you have the maximum amount of flexibility yourself during the seminar.” I don’t see this kind of flexibility in live-online training courses. But perhaps, after 4 modules, I’m simply not that experienced yet. 🙂
This is where the next point comes in: To really time the 1.5 hours well and stay on schedule, detailed consultation with the technical team was required. You’ll find further details about this directly from DLR
Have I already mentioned that this was an international Train-the-Trainer 1 Live-Online-Training in 4 Modules with 10 participants from 10 European countries?
What I haven’t mentioned is the content of the modules:
You’ll find the details on the homepage of the NCP-Academy.
As already indicated, the whole thing had to be highly interactive. I can hardly talk about neurodidactics and not do any of it myself, right? So the participants received homework to prepare in tandems or small working groups and present in the next module.
By the way, the detailed planning also involved the participants. Approximately 3 weeks prior to the first module they received a plan informing them who they should work with and the deadlines for the homework. This was necessary particularly because of the extremely tight timeframe: The online training sessions took place on Fridays from 11.00 to 12.30 (once until 1pm) and the homework had to be delivered to my mailbox by the following Thursday, 12 o’clock in order for me to have enough time to look at it and fine-tune the programme for the next day and to prepare my feedback.
In the 1st Module their task was to think of questions in tandems concerning the training course, for example about the role and mind-set of trainers, good seminar rooms and equipment, etc. Each tandem then had 3 minutes in the next module to present its results.
I chose a similar approach in the 2nd Module: This time, the tandems were asked to prepare various training methods described in the hand-out and to start thinking about in what types of courses or seminars these could be applied.
They received their last homework assignment in the 3rd Module: This time, there were working groups of 2- 3 participants who created a training design together. I put together the groups based on the training topics they were interested in.
And now – hat’s off to the discipline demonstrated by all participants! The homework assignments were delivered to my mailbox 95 % more than punctually, and not only that, in creative top-quality! Bravo! This was precisely the most difficult issue for the participants, namely finding appointments and actually keeping them.
In addition, the Train-the-Trainer 1 Live-Online-Training Sessions included the following interactive elements:
- Drawing on a whiteboard to distinguish the position of trainers as opposed to moderators
- Quiz on how the human brain works
- Working for a short time in group rooms
- Chats, chats, chats, e.g. to answer participants’ questions as to how they could transfer the theory into practice
- Short yoga exercises to relax
All in all it was an exciting experience. But to be honest, I was quite glad when the 4 modules were over. The modules’ scheduling was extremely tight for me, too, and I was completely knackered after each one (to say the very least.) Maybe next time will already be easier and more relaxed 🙂
And now you can read how DLR regarded the technical aspects:
We organised the training course for the NCP Academy, a large EU network project. Why did we opt for the online version of the training course? On paper, at least, online training has the advantage of saving both trainers and participants time and money. And it gives participants from far away an opportunity to take part, which they may otherwise not be able to do if it were onsite. It is expected that more and more training courses will take place online. For this reason we’re excited to obtain more expertise in the field.
We have accumulated a lot of experience with webinars over the past few years. But an online training course consisting of several modules was a new “arena” for us, too. Our task was participant management, and all the technical aspects of the online training course.
Therefore we initially only allowed 10 participants, actually rather a small group. However, at the end we saw that the technical and organisational effort was quite huge and would surely have been huger if the group had been larger.
The fact is that an interactive online training course consisting of several modules is different from a simple webinar. For example because the participants are given speaking rights and use the software’s capabilities more intensively.
We used Adobe Connect to implement this course. Six people were involved in the technical monitoring of the four appointments. We split the work in such a way that there were always two of us supporting each module.
In online training it’s important that all participants have working microphones and headsets. This may sound trivial, but isn’t always the case. It should be obvious that all participants work with good headsets; however, good online meeting etiquette is still not practised everywhere. That’s why we offered to perform a tech-check with each participant first. The check included testing the headset settings and an introduction to the software functions. Despite this, things didn’t always work smoothly during the training sessions with respect to the acoustics. This is why it’s worthwhile investing a lot of time in this issue and, in addition to the individual tech-check, definitely plan on spending at least 15 minutes prior to every session to ensure that the technology and sound are working.
Birgit‘s detailed planning for every module was very helpful for us as well. We discussed the planning in advance with her and discussed when which tool, presentation, questionnaire, whiteboard, breakout room will be required. And we defined who will speak when, and what rights the participants will receive and when (e.g. presenting, activating the camera and microphone.) The whole thing resembled a filming schedule with precise timing. The participants said the training modules made a very professional impression, so the intensive preparation obviously paid off.
When you consider all the costs (including the participants’ travel expenses) online courses are still cheaper than onsite courses or seminars. However, the difference isn’t as enormous as with a simple online meeting or a webinar. On the other hand, the participants reported that they were able to reflect on the learnings in the time between the modules and repeat the content before the next module. In total, then, at least this learning effect is more intense than in an onsite seminar. We will continue to offer online training and experiment with the amazing possibilities. Next time will almost certainly require less effort, too.
Many thanks again for your support and feedback!
Finally, two more testimonials from two other participants who also attended the Onsite Train-the-Trainer 1 Seminars a short time later:
Vanja Malašić from the „Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes in Croatia“ acompleted the TTT1 Seminar in Dubrovnik (7/8 April 2017) soon afterwards and describes the difference in her testimonial:
“I had an excellent opportunity to attend both Train the Trainer 1 Live-Online-Training course and shortly afterwards the Train the Trainer on-site seminar by Birgit Baumann. The Live-Online-Training was a great introduction to the on-site seminar and as a 4 weeks course it gave participants plenty of time for more in depth preparation of homework and reflection between sessions. On the other hand, the on-site training allowed for inspiring group work and discussions, immediate testing of methods and fast retention of knowledge thanks to Birgit’s outstanding interactive and fun training style. Both trainings gave me greater confidence in training courses design and wonderful ideas for my future training sessions.”
Edita Bagdonaite from the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology Latvia also shares her experiences with online and onsite Train-the-Trainer 1 Seminars:
“I attended two training courses of Birgit Baumann, both 4-module live online and on-site at FFG, Vienna. Well-organised and very useful Train-the-Trainer 1 seminars for Health NCPs (National Contact Points). Excellent content and very knowledgeable trainer. I really liked Birgit Baumann’s approach. A lot of practical work and interactivity kept things interesting. The trainer made everyone feel very comfortable, able to contribute and take something away. I felt I have become more confident about making good presentations, training design and the exercises, ‘seminar games’ really helped me to improve.
Very useful – I achieved a lot and gained much from these TTT1 seminars. Great to have a trainer with such energy. Would highly recommend!”
Thanks very much for your feedback, dear Vanja and Edita!
So, that’s about all! But don’t forget: Well, how many hours did I fritter away? Send an email with your guess to email@example.com deadline 24 May!
Feel like trying it out for yourself now? Or have you already tried it out and would like to share your experiences with us? Send me your comment, I look forward to hearing from you!
After reading this, I hope you’ve gained some insight into what you can expect in my Live-Online-Training Course “Workshop Moderation” and also why the 7-part course isn’t offered free of charge. 🙂
If you’re interested or have any questions, please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message here!
Sunny spring greetings, Birgit
 To me there really is a big difference between webinars and live-online training. I have mainly found webinars to be one-way communication in which the only interaction is chatting. Live-online training, on the other hand, should offer more in my opinion, namely real interaction in which the participants are truly and actively involved.