Leaders Teaching Leaders: Now in the Online Classroom

By: Dana Peters, CEO, Mondo Learning Solutions
October 24, 2013

Many companies have been successful at implementing a leadership development program that includes a "leaders teaching leaders" component; seasoned senior leaders teaching in-person classes for up and coming front line and mid-level managers. But what happens when these classes move to the live online classroom?

Many times leaders are not prepared to teach in the Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) environment, yet it is somewhat assumed that they know how (either by the corporate learning department or even the executive themselves). If orientation to VILT is a quick run through of the online classroom platform, the credentials to log in, and a copy of the facilitator guide there could be trouble.

It is more than knowing how the environment works technically. It's about creating highly engaging and interactive learning experiences.

Certainly, many executives have risen to the top because of their ability to effectively communicate with staff, other leaders, and clients/customers. But can they facilitate a relevant learning experience when they can't see those they are interacting with? How can we set these leaders up for success in the virtual classroom?

Offer a mini train-the-trainer session(s) especially for these leaders teaching in the virtual classroom.

The session would include:

  • An explanation of their role and any other roles (like a producer, host or moderator) supporting them in the delivery of their classes.
  • An overview of the learning objectives and how those will be approached in the content designed for this online class.
  • A brief review of a well mapped out facilitator guide (facilitator script). Leaders should be encouraged to make the content their own by using their own words, sharing examples from their experience, and sprinkling in their unique perspective. This creative license will allow their passion to shine through; learners will be drawn to this energy.
  • A discussion on best practices for virtual delivery. This would include things the leader should do to be more effective in this environment and practices that detract from the quality of the delivery. Be sure to include the why behind these best practices and common pitfalls. Provide real life examples so they can see what good and bad looks like and how it impacts the learner.

Provide additional tools and development opportunities:

  • Provide access to an online tutorial for the virtual classroom. Leaders could be asked to take this tutorial in advance of the train-the-trainer session to allow more time in your session for other skill development. Plus they can access it later as a refresher.
  • Provide the opportunity to observe an online class being conducted by another experienced leader. Allow for a brief Q&A afterward between the leader that taught the class and the observing leader.
  • Arrange for a "dress rehearsal" or "dry run" of a section of the material. At the conclusion provide feedback on strength and opportunities for improvement.
  • Provide periodic feedback through course evaluations and sitting in as a silent observer.

There are many differences between teaching in the traditional face-to-face classroom versus the virtual instructor-led classroom, but the desired end result is the same regardless of the delivery method. Implementing a structured train-the-trainer for your leaders, that addresses the unique elements of the online classroom and how to be an effective teacher in this environment, positions your program for success.

Stay tuned for our January newsletter where we will share preparation strategies leaders new to the online classroom environment can follow to be ready for their next delivery.