What have you learned online that you want to take back into the real classroom?

After almost 2 years exclusively training online, I wondered whether I would lose the ability to train face-to-face. Is it like riding a bicycle? Once you can do it, you’ll never unlearn? Or is it more like speaking a foreign language? If you don’t speak it regularly, you’ll lose it over time?  

Face-to-face trainings are back!

Although online training has so many benefits, I am happy face-to-face trainings are coming back too. I recently had the opportunity to spend a whole week with real people in a real training room again. While preparing for the session, a couple of thoughts came to mind:  

“Wow, we have so much time!”

After having had to squeeze training content into short 3-4 hour online training days, and keeping things rather light online, I struggled to imagine a whole 6-8 hour training day. I quickly learned on the first day again: time flies when you’re having fun and when you are together in the same room. And where closing break-out rooms are only a ‘click’ away, offline there’s again that challenge of getting participants back into plenary after a group assignment. I don’t want the button: although offline there’s more time spent on getting everyone back on the same page again, I realised this is valuable time where you have time to check in with individual participants and answer individual questions while waiting for the rest to come back.  

“How do I capture the results of the sessions?”

“Please share your most important conclusion from this discussion in the chat”. The possibility to ask this question and read every participant’s reflection in writing has been very helpful to capture and maximise learning online. Participants can also see what their peers got out of the session, and this all adds to the learning. Training online has reminded me about the value of making our learning visual with drawings, sticky notes, and symbols! Don’t waste energy and time on inviting long verbal summaries from participants but use creative methods to capture the learning in one single image or word.  

“I have to remember my content again, there is no extra screen anymore”

Oops, what was I going to cover next? I have never liked working with PowerPoint, but online I got spoiled seeing the content on my slides. You could always sneak a peek for the details. Going offline again, working with just a few slides if at all, it challenged me to prepare better, and at the same time gave me more flexibility to go with the flow and adapt the content to the participant’s needs.  

After a whole week I concluded: yes, it is like cycling, I can still do it. Phew! Going back face-to-face does however require a different kind of preparation and another way of looking at your training design and the methods you’ll use. While many trainers may have struggled to translate their face-to-face trainings online in the past 2 years, I challenge you to see what online ways of doing can be translated back into face-to-face training to maximise learning for all.  

Are you worried you’ve lost the ability to train face-to-face? Do you want to practice with other trainers? Join us in the Netherlands to give your training and facilitation skills a boost!