In business, there’s always a need to train employees, whether it’s introducing new hires to essential company information or the entire office to new technology or software. In education, there’s the opportunity to open up courses to a wider audience by offering virtual options for those that can’t attend class in person.
Both of these needs are addressed by using conference calls for virtual learning opportunities. By employing audio conferencing, visual elements through web conferencing, and all of the modern features available for audience interaction, you can target different learning styles while also offering optimum support and flexibility for learners.
You might be asking yourself: How do I actually go about teaching and training on a conference call? Does it really work? Here we provide some guidelines on how best to use conference calling to teach others—and make it work for everyone involved.
Choose the right service
The type of conferencing service you choose will depend on your needs for teaching or training. You can ask yourself the following questions to determine what software might be right for you:
Need to lecture on a budget? Try phone conferencing.
A great option for teaching or training with audio only is a phone conference. A main speaker can deliver a lecture and have a large number of audience members listening in. Then the instructor can open up the floor for questions and comments through a Q&A session. With phone conferencing, there is typically a good deal of flexibility in options and pricing, from pay-as-you-use toll conferencing to convenient toll-free and international conferencing options.
Have a presentation to share? Use web conferencing.
Web conferencing is a popular option for instructors due to the ability to show presentation slides from PowerPoint, a video feed for a live speaker, or a shared device screen to view actions in real time—or switch between all of these formats. Trainees or students also have easy access to other documents and media through file sharing, and can participate directly with the content through built-in chat, Q&A, and markup features.
Training a very large audience? Opt for audio streaming.
Audio streaming, also referred to as audiocasting or webcasting, is the ideal way to educate very large numbers of people. Say you are hosting a presentation, panel, or other educational speaker at a big live event, but you also want the material to be streamed online so it’s open to the public. An audience of thousands can listen in to an audiocast or watch a videocast and join in the conversation with live chat or polling.
Crucial to any instructor is how much the students and trainees are getting out of the material, of course. Many shy away from the distance that virtual meetings put between teacher and student. However, the truth is that there are numerous ways that conference calls can help hold trainees accountable and engaged, and have instructors see greater retention rates from them.
One way that this happens is by taking advantage of some of the interactive features available on a phone or web conference. A host or instructor can actually target different styles of learning that students may have, all within the same conference. Here’s how:
Visual learners can benefit from a web conference that features presentation slides with images and other graphics—something that every good presentation should include. Screen sharing allows those who learn best through visuals to actually see a whole process from start to finish. An idea can be drawn out in real time on a web conference, too, by using a whiteboard feature to illustrate the point.
Auditory learners will appreciate phone conferences and audiocasts that put the focus on a main speaker or lecture. This gives them the opportunity to listen closely and take notes. For this reason, even if using web conferencing, instructors should consider incorporating a traditional phone conference service so viewers have the option to dial in for crystal-clear audio. On a large webinar or webcast, a host can also set up breakout rooms with small groups, where auditory learners will excel by speaking and listening to a focused group of peers.
Read & write learners will benefit from phone conferences that allow them time to take copious notes and web conferences that include slides with good written information. Instructors should also take advantage of chat and polling features that will allow these learners to input their feedback, as well document sharing and markup tools, which will let them read and contribute to written material directly.
Kinesthetic learners typically have the most difficulty grasping concepts through virtual classrooms or training—or any traditional lecture setting, for that matter. The key to engaging this learning type is to employ all of the interactive features available to you to make users feel more in control. One must-have feature for this is screen sharing, which makes kinesthetic learners feel more like they are completing an online process themselves. The other is markup tools, where learners can write and draw directly on a whiteboard or document to contribute.
The key is to keep all of these learning styles in mind when you’re choosing a conferencing service and designing the format of your courses. Include a bit of each style in the same presentation and you’ll be maximizing the success of every student.
Track and manage
Once a web or phone conference is done, you don’t need to be left wondering if learners will really follow up with questions, required assignments, and a true grasp of the material. Quality web conferencing services can now integrate easily with an existing Learning Management System (LMS)—or replace one entirely by acting as an all-in-one online classroom.
Instructors can fully customize their online meeting room. From there, they can login to create and share curricula, keep track of enrollment and attendance, and track participation and progress of all their students. It’s also easy for the instructor to gauge attentiveness in real time with polling, chat, and Q&A while a lesson is going on.
When a conference is over, the instructor can choose to distribute a recording via email to those who may want to go over the material again. He or she can keep the download under restricted access to discourage students from skipping the live broadcast. The recording feature can also be used to pre-record training sessions to distribute as part of the course curriculum, especially if an instructor doesn’t have the time or availability to be there live for every session.
With all these features available to you with modern conferencing software, there’s no reason not to save money and time on training employees or expanding education beyond the classroom. Feel free to contact us at Conference Calls Unlimited about any of the services we’ve mentioned here. Good luck and happy learning!