Improving Virtual Education

Improving Virtual Education

November 18, 2020
Shari Steinbach

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

From webinars, to on-line demos and cooking classes, retail dietitians have had to go digital when providing educational programming during the pandemic.  To be effective and truly engage on-line audiences it is important to identify techniques that can strengthen learning. The following guidelines can help you, the virtual trainer, improve your success when facilitating virtual educational outreach:

  • Get off to an engaging start. Think about providing an interesting icebreaker to lead off. Use the chat feature to start a conversation based on a trivia question related to the content for example. Or, provide some pre-event reading and ask about what was learned as participants log on.
  • Provide exceptional content. As with other mediums, great content is a must. For virtual learning it is vital that speakers be energetic and passionate about their topic while connecting with viewers.
  • Use different learning formats. Think about live chat discussions, recorded videos, and downloadable resources. You can also provide a recipe and shopping list ahead of time if you’re doing a food demo and invite your audience to cook along with you. Ask participants to share a photo of their prepared dish.
  • Be prepared for tech issues. Have solutions at hand if your live stream fails or if you get too many or too little attendees. Troubleshoot these issues ahead of time and have a backup plan ready to execute if needed.
  • Keep viewer interest. Involve participants early and often. For example, offer polls or quiz questions throughout the online event and provide prizes to those who answer questions correctly. Try not to go longer than 10 minutes or so without audience interaction to keep interest high.
  • Push for participation in chat and Q and A. It’s important to manage your group interaction online, so remind participants often to ask questions or add comments in chat.
  • Be bright and brief. When learning isn’t face-to-face it is easier to lose your audience to all the other things going on in their world and on their screen. Try to keep your program to a max of 60 “engaging” minutes or less.
  • Get participant feedback. Survey your audience within a day or two to obtain information on what worked and what didn’t while it is still fresh in their mind. Use feedback to help you plan your next event or to determine if the platform you used worked well for your participants.