Why learning in a virtual classroom is even better than the real thing
Trainer Paul Chuter says that the coronavirus pandemic may have put classroom-based training courses on hold for the foreseeable future, but the good news is that virtual training has the same key benefits that face-to-face learning offers – and more.
What do you look forward to most when you attend a one-day training course? Is it the stimulation you get from gaining new skills, the chance to network with professional peers, or the joy of getting out of the office for a day?
COVID-19 has put classroom-based training courses on hold for the foreseeable future. But the good news is, when you choose to develop your skills in a virtual classroom, you can look forward to the same key benefits that face-to-face learning offers and more.
Thanks to Zoom, and the fancy footwork of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, the virtual classroom offers an equal, perhaps superior, opportunity to develop your capability and confidence, grow your professional network and escape from your lockdown work routine. And if this comes as a surprise to you, you’re not alone. I’ve trained thousands of fundraisers from more than 350 UK and international charities during the last 20 years and the joys of the virtual classroom have been a complete revelation even to me.
So, what makes learning in a virtual classroom so appealing?
Well, the first and most obvious benefit is that delegates don’t need to travel to London or a major regional city. That makes it less hassle for the delegate and less costly for the organisation paying the bill. There’s a significant time saving too be gained. The online version of my one-day Copywriting for Fundraising Masterclass, for example, runs over three 90 minute modules with a coffee and lunch break in between. Also, because it starts at 10am and finishes at 4pm, delegates have more time before and after the course to check emails etc.
But what about the learning experience?
The feedback from delegates has been universally positive. The training content for each course has been adapted to make sure all of the learning outcomes are achieved just as effectively online. I hold a Q&A session at the end of each key course module. The surprising thing is that delegates actually ask more questions, and often more insightful questions, in the virtual classroom than they generally do in face-to-face classrooms. I’m honestly not quite sure why this is. Perhaps they feel less inhibited knowing the entire class won’t be looking their way as soon as they raise their hand.
Zoom has proved to be an excellent platform for teaching. It’s also one that most people have already become extremely comfortable using. The chat function, breakout rooms and screen sharing capability keep the whole learning experience extremely engaging and interactive, while delegate introductions, discussions and practical exercises encourage the cross fertilisation of ideas as well as useful networking opportunities.
Now is a great time to train and be trained
The pandemic has put many charitable organisations, and their budgets, under pressure. But the reality is that developing skills is the surest way to improve productivity without increasing headcount. Right now, the government’s furlough scheme allows organisations to train their staff while they’re being furloughed. It’s a win-win situation, which is why there’s never been a better time, or a better way, to boost the capability and confidence of your fundraising teams in the weeks and months ahead.
Paul Chuter FIDM is a communications practitioner and an IoF Short Course trainer.