Stop Giving Business Training Instructors So Much Credit!
August 24, 2012 by Bill Rosenthal

As I’ve traveled North America (at the moment I’m in Calgary, Canada as the lead instructor on the LogicalCHOICE Learning Experience Tour) I have come to a somewhat unexpected conclusion: people give Instructors way too much credit for their brilliance.

Hear me out. I think people in general underestimate the ability of a good classroom facilitator to work miracles on delivering professional courses. We do it every day. We revive semi-comatose participants and help them learn. We figure out how to squeeze too many people into a class without sacrificing quality and we even manage to train all day on nothing more than Diet Coke and a Continental breakfast. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s expected that classroom trainers should figure out how to deliver learning online at the same level we do in the classroom without ever getting any technology training or guidance. Flattering, but it’s a bit of a stretch.

In working with my clients at GreatWebMeetings.com I see it every day: good classroom trainers are expected to understand how platforms like WebEx, or Adobe Connect, or GoToTraining work, convert existing classroom materials to work in a virtual environment and present with the same energy and impact as they do in the traditional classroom. And they’re expected to pull all that off without any technology training or real support.

The numbers bear this out:

Technology training is essential to effectively conducting business training programs online. According to WebEx and other providers 80% of presenters use fewer than 25% of the features of the programs (basically it’s showing PowerPoint slides, voiceover and that’s it). Most presenters don’t even know what the platforms are capable of. How can you have a vibrant, interactive and effective online classroom if the tools that allow that interaction aren’t used effectively?
The lack of confidence instructors have in technology training programs is astounding. Polls we’ve done at GreatWebMeetings.com indicate that over ¾ of instructors who deliver their first online class have never participated in one they thought was effective before delivering one themselves. Think about that. They are presenting for the first time in a way that they themselves haven’t seen work. What are the odds of this turning out well?
85% or more of presenters don’t get a chance to practice with the platform before trying it out on innocent victims. It’s a little like learning to drive by taking your parents to the airport—it’s possible, but it’s no fun and no one’s in a hurry to do it again anytime soon.
This can only lead me to one conclusion: the companies that hire instructors have such faith in our ability to be brilliant under any circumstances that they think we can use business training tools we don’t know well and don’t care for to convert existing courseware to a new environment so it will be just as powerful as it is in a traditional classroom (where we at least know what we’re doing).

While it’s nice that our employers have such faith in us, wouldn’t it be better if they actually helped classroom instructors figure out this new environment? That’s why I’m so excited about Logical Operations’ new offering, LogicalCHOICE. It’s designed to help instructors deliver virtually the same content with the same effectiveness as they do in the traditional classroom. The Leader’s guides are built with the understanding that you might have to deliver virtually as well as in a classroom, and it gives you hints, best practices, and tips to do it well.

Besides using a learning system like LogicalCHOICE takes the guesswork out of virtual delivery, you can help your instructors develop their skills. I could humbly suggest a book like “10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations” or one of the programs we offer at GreatWebMeetings.com. At the very least give them the chance to sit in on a well-run virtual program so they see the challenges and potential of the business training tool, let them practice all they want so that the technology isn’t a barrier, then monitor their progress and offer coaching when you can.

If the reactions of the instructors we’ve met on this tour are any indication, they are clamoring for help like this.

While it’s nice to be thought of as a genius, my guess is your trainers will appreciate your help developing their skills even more.