With increasing virtualization of learning programs, ensuring effective learning assimilation in such programs becomes even more critical.

With our experience of running Virtual Learning Programs in the last two years, we believe the following elements become critical:

1. Clear communication of the expected learning outcomes to participants and its relevance to their roles and responsibilities is always important for participant engagement. However, in a virtual program, it is useful to conduct an orientation webinar or session which can be used as a good forum to conduct a conversation around the learning outcomes.

2. A webinar or e-learning module is not a virtual program, although they can be important modules. A virtual program needs to be looked at as a process of engagement with the participants over a period of time around the key learning issues. This is better achieved when the participants have a number of forums for engagement with the facilitator – webinars, online socialization platform, small group coaching sessions etc.

3. The content for these virtual programs needs to be packaged & delivered differently. These packages need to be shorter, designed to be more engaging and must be available for consumption anytime & anywhere. Combining short quizzes & tests with these learning packages is an effective way to further engage participants with the content.

4. Video seems to be an effective tool to drive up learner engagement. With various online video conferencing tools, the participant experience of virtual interactions has improved radically and is now far more effective than the traditional one to many connection tools like conference calls and recorded videos.

5. Group project assignments supported by regular group coaching have emerged as a good tool to ensure effective assimilation of learning in virtual programs. The traditional success factors in effective project-based learning like executive sponsorship, carefully selected projects etc. apply even in virtually-delivered projects. However, providing a group learning platform environment where the groups can share & collaborate together helps greatly improve collaboration quality.

As with traditional face-to-face learning programs, the content quality, facilitator’s knowledge and ability to connect with participants remain key factors affecting program success. However, program leaders must learn to view virtual learning programs as a different intervention and not just a physical learning program being delivered virtually.

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