Online learning has moved well beyond one-way presentations

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For an upcoming presentation on the future of adult training, Marilyn Laiken was asked to prepare a talk on online versus face-to-face training in a classroom.

The premise struck her as flawed because of the suggestion that these learning modes were somehow opposite. “It’s not ‘versus’ it should be ‘and’,” said Laiken, director of the Masters Certificate in Adult Training and Development, nothing that even online training needs to be face-to-face to succeed at engaging participants and delivering learning that lasts. “It needs to be synchronous,” she said, “not just a prepared presentation or webinar, but a virtual classroom where you can do all kinds of things.”

Carley Inglis, a facilitator in the program who teaches the Dynamic eLearning Development and Facilitation module with colleague Shawn Pariag, says the key to making virtual work is to focus on interaction to keep people engaged, using all the tools such as online Q&A, chat and notation tools that you respond to in real time. “You need to be a facilitator, not just a presenter,” she explained. “And you need to practice your techniques, so you can be more polished” to keep people engaged but still be seen as authentic.

Another key takeaway, Inglis said, is the importance of preparing participants for an online, virtual classroom session by giving them materials and tips on how to participate in these fully interactive learning sessions held in real time, in advance. “Tell them what to expect and how to prepare for the class (including tips such as finding a quiet room and turning your cellphone to airplane mode to prevent distractions).”

The five program modules cover the following topics:

  1. The Essence of Adult Learning and Teaching
  2. Designing Learning for Performance
  3. Creating High-impact Learner-Centred Classrooms
  4. Dynamic eLearning Development and Facilitation
  5. The Practicum in Adult Training and Development


The Masters Certificate in Adult Training and Development (starting in January 2020) is a 13-day program delivered over two months and includes a one-year practicum project. The program is also recognized as eligible for 91 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours by the Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA). For more information and to register, visit the program web page.

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