john_smallPosted by John Kleeman

At the suggestion of the Masie Center, I’ve been reading an interesting book on Virtual Training Basics by Cindy Huggett. So I’ve been thinking about how you can use assessment effectively within Virtual training.
Virtual training is an online event, where a trainer meets up with participants and instructs them in an online classroom or similar environment (for instance Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Webex or Adobe Connect). A recent survey by ASTD suggests that 6.4% of formal US training hours are virtual, which is a lot of training hours.
Assessment is a cornerstone of all learning, but when you are remote from your participants, and so cannot see their facial reactions or body language, assessment is even more important than in face-t- face training. If you are delivering virtual training, here are some ways you can consider using assessments.

  • Pre-test: A pre-test before the virtual training session is valuable for understanding participants’ knowledge in advance and for creating intrigue. In virtual training, it’s harder to engage participants or check in verbally with what they know, so pre-tests are particularly important.
  • Poll slides: Many systems allow poll slides, which present simple questions — usually multiple choice — that allow you to check participants’ views or reactions. These are basic, but easy and useful.
  • Real-time knowledge checks: Whereas poll slides are helpful, they don’t usually store the results or identify people. In longer sessions, short quizzes that check knowledge of topics within the course are sometimes preferable. People can take the assessments in real time and you can see the results collectively and by individual. This is very easy to set up in Questionmark Perception. In some tools, like Live Meeting, you can simply include a web page (see here for instructions) and each participant will get their own versions of the quiz to fill in.
  • Course evaluations: These are important for all training, but in virtual training where you cannot see the reactions face-to-face, they are vital. Every virtual training session should have a course evaluation and should include questions on the virtual experience as well as the usual questions.
  • Post-course tests:  Like any other session, virtual or real, people will forget over time, and questions sent after the event can prevent forgetting and reinforce learning.

As Internet speeds get faster, software improves and travel challenges and costs grow, more and more of us are going to be delivering virtual training. I think assessment within virtual training will be essential to making the training successful and also measuring its success.