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Making the most of remote training during COVID-19

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Every day, more and more schools and organisations are closing their doors to help contain the spread of COVID-19. As Canvas APAC Learning Consultants, our current challenge is to adapt specifically-designed “onsite trainings” that rely on hands-on activities and face-to-face interactions into full-day remote sessions. 

We’ve made a few key changes to the way we design and deliver remote training to ensure participation and engagement. By sharing our experiences below, we hope to encourage you to find creative ways to keep engaging your students in the online learning space during this time of continual change.

1.Make the most of local Canvas Champions! 

Whether during the scoping call or by using a survey on Canvas, seek out the experienced, advanced and/or enthusiastic Canvas users at your institution/organisation and ask them to help. They can  work the room during the training to give advice, answer questions, and offer additional support for less experienced users. Don’t forget to shower them with appreciation and swag for thanks, as this gives the Champions confidence to assist and empower other users in the future. This works especially well for clients with large cohorts of participants.

2. Use Discussions in Canvas Courses

Canvas has best practice course considerations that make teaching and learning easier. In remote training sessions, this is no exception. Discussions are a great way to capture how your participants are going with any activities you’ve assigned them. 

Create discussion forums for participants to insert screenshots of their work as posts or replies in the discussion. Spend a few minutes ensuring everyone knows how to screenshot and show them how to insert them into discussion responses. Then create a new module for the training (preferably at the top for ease of access for participants) and discussion line items for each activity. 

Example of using discussions and screenshots for remote training

As a trainer, you can keep the discussion open and refresh your screen to view recent participant contributions. The discussion then becomes a platform to showcase work as well as give meaningful feedback on tasks and/ or what they could do differently. Furthermore, it keeps them accountable for completing the training in real time when there isn’t onsite “supervision”. 

We have found this works well for remote training where both the trainer and participants are remote, as it creates a sense of inclusion and sharing.

3. Utilise a rich mixture of resources

Just as the Canvas Rich Content Editor enables teaching through a diverse range of functions,  such as uploading files and inserting media, we are using an array of resources in our remote full-day training sessions. For example, for a recent South East Asian client, we utilised training recordings, self-paced activity slides, and live guided training and Q&A sessions. This combination of synchronous and asynchronous options allows flexibility for any organisation based on need and available resources.  

4. Bring in online tools that you already use

A lot of what we do face-to-face in our training sessions involves utilising online tools that can also be applied in an online context. 

For example, we’ve used Slido (a polling tool) during presentations to large groups to increase audience participation and interaction. If your online tools have embed codes available, you can add them directly into Canvas by flipping the Rich Content Editor into the HTML Editor. If you’re not comfortable with embedding HTML, you can also head to a web browser to use them outside of Canvas and simply flip browser windows during your screen share. 

Keeping the agenda on schedule can be a challenge, especially if your audience loves a good break. In face-to-face training sessions, we often pull up a separate browser window and simply Google “10 min timer,” expand the timer window and leave it open so everyone is clear when the session starts again. This could work really well in the remote context as well, so you can still have your cup of coffee (or tea) without feeling guilty or losing track of your agenda. 

5. Gain familiarity with video conferencing tools

We use video conferencing  to deliver and record our client training sessions, mainly focusing on the screen sharing and chat functions to connect with our audience. To take it to the next level, we even reached out to our training colleagues in EMEA who also work remotely with clients. Here are some of their suggestions (that we plan to implement ourselves, as well):

  • Encourage everyone to sign in separately so they can contribute to the Chat space individually. If possible, have a Chat moderator to join the meeting to manage questions during periods when you are focused on lecture or demonstration.

  • Equip your audience with your video conferencing tools. Allow them to share their screen so you can see their work, use the breakout rooms for small group discussions, or include polls to assess understanding or to encourage active participation. It is also good practice to provide some time at the beginning to explain to your audience how you plan to use the video conferencing tools so they can effectively participate.