Small Group Learning – Part III – How to Implement Small Group Instruction in Virtual Training Environments

So far in this series, we have covered a good bit of information regarding small group learning in virtual environments. Now, let’s dive into its associated costs and how to set your company up for success as you consider utilizing a virtual solution that gives you full flexibility and analytics around training success.

Virtual training saves money in terms of travel, food, lodging, and facility rentals.  Using solutions like Jigsaw Interactive, the opportunity for continuous and concurrent training programs saves time and offers the ability to design and hold more trainings.  Without the need to travel, along with the ability to hold the same training more than once, helps open training calendars for easier scheduling and more consistent training programs. 

It also means that team members are more likely to be available because the time out of their day is the actual time of the training.  They no longer lose travel time or time away from family to participate in training.  For sales people, this means they are not out of pocket which means training is no longer negatively impacting their earning opportunities.

The Dos and Don’ts

Once you have found a robust platform, such as Jigsaw Interactive, that offers all levels of engagement tools necessary to provide a virtual learning experience,  the following dos and don’ts  might be helpful.

Have a Clear Objective–Make sure the small group session clearly meets a learning objective like completing a task, team building, learning or practicing a skill, or solving a specific problem (Learning Solutions).

Provide Detailed Directions– Be as clear with your expectations as possible, as virtual training is still a new venue for many people and leaving the main group can cause them some confusion and even anxiety (Forbes).

Consider Pre-Selecting Group Members– To ensure a good mix of skillsets, ideas, and personalities, be mindful about how you split your teams up for small-group instruction (Bizbash).

Allow Ample Time – To be effective, virtual small groups need to have enough time for technical setup (and possibly troubleshooting), instruction, activities, and discussion (Learning Solutions). 

Assign a Group Leader – Having one person in charge removes the confusion and helps focus the group on the task at hand.

Have Content in the Room – Being able to review information on the project while working together helps solidify the teamwork. 

Build Different Projects in Each Room – Being able to have different projects, based on the skills and knowledge of the group, ensures learning for everyone. 

Provide Enough Time for Review – Ensure at least 1 or 2 groups get a chance to describe their project and results.  Knowing the group will discuss what they’ve done will ensure they take the project seriously and work toward a solid resolution.

Don’t Put Too Many People in a Group – Small groups should be just that—small. In virtual environments these groups should be smaller than they would be in face-to-face meetings. The ideal number for a virtual breakout session is six (Forbes).

Choosing the right technology for the job is over half the battle.  The virtual training solution should provide easy to use, fully functioning and customizable break out rooms.  Everything should be easy so you don’t spend your time working the technology.  The technology should work for you.