As so often in life, timing is everything. In this case, I had spent hours trying to adapt the training course that I deliver together with a colleague to online delivery and I had become really stuck. So the advert for the ‘Adapting to virtual delivery’ course run by the Leeds Health and Care Academy in my emails couldn’t have come at a better time! I immediately signed up to a session on 28th October.
This 1-hour course was delivered via Zoom and covered tips and tricks, best practice, virtual icebreakers and engagement tools, key things to think about when preparing and/or adapting your material, the participant experience and some time for group discussion to share thoughts and experiences. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the two presenters were friendly and engaging and soon put the group at ease.
As well as discussing the practicalities of teaching online, we also had a whistle-stop tour of some virtual engagement tools: Slido, a Q&A and polling platform for live or virtual meetings (https://www.sli.do/); whiteboard, the whiteboard function available in Zoom; and breakout rooms. Similar tools and functions are available for most videoconferencing platforms, so while we are looking at delivering our training via MS Teams not Zoom, it was still a useful overview and good fun to try them all out.
The most useful advice for me was to chunk your session and change the pace/activity approximately every 10 minutes. Interestingly, I realised during the session that the change in pace or activity does not necessarily have to be a big one. The presenters themselves switched from one to the other every few minutes and it was striking how, although they were essentially just talking to us, that subtle switch was enough to break it up and to hold everybody’s attention. Simple yet effective.
15 minutes after the session, participants received an email asking for feedback and giving us access to handouts and other materials. Again, I thought the timing was just right, the course was still fresh in my mind and I left feedback there and then. It made me think about the timing of asking for feedback as we usually wait a few weeks before sending out our feedback survey. Our response rates are not good, so maybe we should send it out straight away.
I came away from the session with lots of ideas buzzing around my head, inspired to finish adapting my own training course. I will certainly be introducing changes of pace/activity into my training and have already suggested to my colleague that we switch between us for some parts of the presentation, as that was such an effective technique. I will also suggest changing the timing of our feedback survey.
A big thank you to the Leeds Health and Care Academy and the two presenters, Megan and Saadia, for hosting such a useful and inspiring course!
Eva Thackeray, Assistant Clinical Librarian, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust