8 Steps to Make Online Training Effective

As online learning becomes the norm for the foreseeable future, I am busy conducting sessions on creating online learning modules or helping organizations roll out online training sessions.

As a learning experience designer, I am constantly asking myself these questions: what makes an online training session effective? How can we increase retention and recall?

To experience sessions as a ‘learner’, I’ve also sat through many webinars and online training sessions. I must say, this has greatly helped me get a much better idea on what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some of my ideas to answer these questions:

1. Slow and simple: This is more true if you are creating an online module from a classroom session. The activities, tasks, role plays, etc. you typically do in a class will need to be thought through. You will have to simplify – reduce concepts, use videos, plan for group work, assessments based on your topic.

2. Shorten and lighten: Considering the average attention span of human beings is shorter than ever before, conducting sessions in multiples of 45 minutes works best. Keeping the sessions light, with some informal interaction will also help ease the burden of learning.

3. Interact and encourage participation: As a learner, sitting in a session where trainer who drones on for 15 minutes or more without a pause makes me sleepy or restless. I like interactive sessions that allow me ask questions – or at the very least type a question. And sometimes, a peer learner’s question may help me understand something better.

4. Open line of communication: I’ve been in sessions that allow learners to speak and some others who ask them to use chat to communicate. As you can figure out, both have pros and cons. But in either case, keeping an open line of communication is important so learners can feel connected.

5. Consider having a moderator: Most participants like asking questions as a session progresses. However, a trainer won’t have the luxury of reading each comment as a session unfolds. In such cases, it makes a lot of sense to have a moderator who can ensure nothing is lost in the flow of the session.

7. Go easy with on-screen text: All video conferencing tools allow screen share. However, no matter what content you share, the learner’s screen will include shared content, chat, and participant lists. Given the relatively small real estate on the screen, it makes more sense to reduce text and probably increase image on screen, and add videos.

8. Go tech: To make your session stand out (and reduce learner fatigue), use features like reactions, polling, breakout groups, etc. to improve the learning experience. Adding pre-reading material by email, assessments, forms, surveys on Survey Monkey, will definitely improve a session. 

That’s all I have for now. What would you add to this?

Reset Routines

In the first week of the lock down, I slept a whole lot. It looked like my body was shutting down in response to the fear, anxiety and stress. By day 10, I started to worry that I would never get back on the saddle.

But I found out that it wasn’t so bad after all. I fell back to my routine developed as a freelancer – I have been waking up, exercising, freshening up, eating breakfast, and starting my day by 9.30 am.

I started by resetting the time I woke up every morning. It didn’t happen in one day, but a determined effort every day, I slipped a few times, but that was okay. A month on, I am glad I am back to my typical day, though making more time for personal phone calls, family time, and even some art and craft projects with my sister.

Once you feel ready, here are some strategies that may be helpful.

  1. Create your morning routine and stick to it like your life depends on it!
  2. For the rest of the day, create a schedule closest to your typical routine.
  3. Set aside time every day for fun, learning, family time, phone calls, fun, entertainment.
  4. Create dedicated place in your house for the important tasks and activities. For example, workouts can be in a balcony, while planning/ analysing can be a desk. In my experience I have found that trying to work from the dining table isn’t a great idea – there are too many distractions there.
  5. Connect with your peer group, if you have one and probably learn how they are managing their schedules. Who knows, you may end up learning something or  better teach others something!
  6. Take regular break and power naps if you like.
  7. Try to get some fresh air if it’s possible.
  8. In training related to time management and prioritization, we refer to Stephen Covey’s theory on Putting the Big rocks in first. This theory essentially looks at assigning tasks to 4 quadrants as shown below.

We always always focus on being more productive, and so ask participants to do more of Q1 tasks, manage Q2, avoid Q3 and do some Q4.

If you think about it, the lock down period is a perfect time to do more of Q4 and also spend time analysing, rethinking ideas, and planning – Q2 – for the future. Do you agree?

A note of caution: please let athletes enjoy themselves with their family and ‘their’ time, like you can also enjoy your ‘me’ time. It is not necessary to jump into any of these in a hurry!

Overcome Boredom

Almost every sportsperson/ coach talks about feeling bored. I get it. You are used to being out of the house by 5 am. By 10 am, you probably finish your morning exercise and practise. The rest of your day is usually mapped out, down to the last minute, and you know what exactly you will be doing. From that kind of schedule to counting minutes in each hour/ each passing day is difficult.

With the lockdown, you are forced to do everything within your home or apartment. Your workouts and exercise last only a couple of hours and your work with athlete assignments / follows up takes a couple more hours. Adding time on social media, watching TV, catching up with family, sleeping, etc, the day still seems excruciatingly long and boring.

1. Pick challenges that can be fun and interesting.

  • Follow challenges by national and international champions. A good example is https://www.instagram.com/p/B-1bJrPAzn8. Host a video-based competition for athletes of a similar age group.
  • Host a challenge on creating the best indoor court/ shooting target, etc. Give your athletes a day to prepare.
  • Create a video series to help athletes improve form/ agility, stamina, strength
  • With elite athletes, set time to analyse their past games and walk them through solutions
  • Prepare a 3-month plan you can put into action once academies open up

2. Make time for other fun stuff

  • Have a dance party at home
  • Make art, draw, paint, sew, do carpentry
  • Play board games
  • Learn an instrument
  • Learn to cook/ mom in the kitchen
  • Catch up with family and friends
  • Play online games with friends and family
  • Garden if you have the space/ equipment
  • Organize and optimize your cupboards/ space – your mom will thank you for it! 🙂

3. Learn, Read and Grow

On a more serious note, it’s also probably a great time to do things you haven’t been able to in a long time.

  • Learn something new
  • Read!
  • Meditate and reflect
  • Do some research. Just this morning, I came across https://www.smaful.com/products/b-1. Isn’t this interesting? Would it be possible to create a home version of this?

And finally, don’t forget to watch your favourite shows, movies, and listen to music.

#sports #coachtraining #coacheducation #sportstraining #sportsperformancetraining

Build Emotional Resilience

There is many online resources by experts in this area. I would prefer you attend the free webinars/ online talks on this subject. To me, the biggest element is in addressing fear, anxiety, and stress in uncertain times.

One the most important points to consider is encapsulated in Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Control:

Focusing on the things we CAN influence builds resilience and confidence. Coaches can do this themselves and help athletes do the same. I don’t think it’s very easy when we are constantly bombarded with grave news and information.

  1. Reduce social media time to limit the external influences. Coaches are seeing a spike in online time, by themselves and athlete alike. This is normal and it’s okay. With time and focus, it can be brought down with effective time allocation or including some online learning time. 
  • Engage with your ‘class’ online as much as you can. If you can a plan group classes on varying subjects for different age groups, it will keep you busy while engaging more with you athletes.
  • Spend time on learning skills/ tools/ new things that are of interest to you. With almost all major sports organizations and ministry hosting online programs in different forums, it is easy to pick a topic and deep dive into it.

If you would like to discuss any of these specific strategies or create learning modules, please feel free to connect with me! I would be delighted to work with you.

Know what to do…

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, or like you have been “thrown off your game”. We always feel our most tired when we are scared, and these are truly frightening times. No matter what anyone says, if we don’t know what to do, it’s perfectly okay. I repeat, it is perfectly okay. You will be okay.

“Where we is not who we are”

I hear of coaches and athletes sleeping a lot, and feeling guilty about it. A few coaches shared that they feel very guilty about sleeping longer hours now. They felt it was too much! That’s okay because you/ your body are responding to the situation in that way. No two people are alike, so no two people will have the same response. Similarly, others talk about snacking/ eating a lot. Again, that’s okay, because you are responding that way.

But it is important to realise that this is a phase and that it will change. Instead of looking at the lockdown as a holiday, look at it as an unplanned off season.

What do you do in an off season? You would let your athlete rest more, analyse areas of improvement, create a plan to improve your / your athlete’s game, and get started. That’s exactly what you need to do now. While the spatial restrictions are a challenge, there is great opportunity to learn and grow in this time. Rewire how you see this time, it will make all the difference in how you use it.

You don’t have to move a mountain in a day. Maybe it will be a few small things, like getting into work-out gear and doing a new workout, reading something that would help improve your coaching/ athlete’s game, etc. Just make sure you start with some activity every day.

Image courtesy: Olympic channel

#sports #coachtraining #coacheducation #sportstraining #sportsperformancetraining

Staying Motivated

A guide for sports coaches and athletes to stay motivated in difficult situations

For the last three years, I have worked exclusively within the sports education industry. In this time, I have collaborated with many sports coaches every week and have also conducted  conduct webinars and online training sessions with clients like Olympic Gold Quest.

In our interactions with coaches and athletes I have found that this period of lock down, which is a difficult time for the whole nation, has impacted professional sportspeople as well as those with active lifestyles heavily.

The next set of articles outlines some ideas for staying active, both to continue sports training and to stay motivated during these trying times.

sports #coachtraining #coacheducation #sportstraining #sportsperformancetraining