Imagine if you only had the knowledge and skill levels that you contained immediately after college or university? I dare say you would be professionally out of date. As learning and development professionals, we often expound the benefits of continuous improvement, but we seldom take this advice ourselves. About once per year, I put aside time to "sharpen my saw" as Stephen Covey would put it in his highly successful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
This year I've decided to not work on my eLearning design and development skills but rather my skills as an online training professional. My main business is designing and developing eLearning, but I'm still a professional facilitator. Like most of us, I got my start in the classroom. Since my clients are located all over the globe, online training makes sense for both my clients and me.
Classroom and online facilitation are two very different things. I've learned first hand that many of the visual cues you get standing in front of a class of students often don't exist in an online setting. For example, in a classroom, it's easy for a skilled facilitator to pick up on facial reactions when the students require further clarification. Also, different facial reactions can let you know when students experience the "ah-ha" moments. In a classroom, a skilled facilitator can use these cues to transition to the next topic, reinforce key points, or ask students to share their thoughts. In an online setting, learners don't always share their webcam with you. You can't see how engaged they are or see those aforementioned facial reactions to what you are teaching. Not having this and other advantages of the classroom are something that I've found challenging about online facilitation.
I've selected to become certified by the International Council for Certified Online Training Professionals or (ICCOTP). Their Certified Online Training Professional Certificate gets me a certificate, a badge to display on my website, and my name added to the listing of council members. All of these items are great, but honestly, my biggest motivation to complete this certification is to improve my skills as an online trainer. While I think my training sessions and webinars are good right now, I think they could be better. I like the fact that upon completion of the certification, the assessment will be a live proficiency exam where I present a 10-minute lesson delivered in an online format. I will have to apply the skills learned during the training to be successful, rather than simply answering a series of multiple-choice questions.
I'm scheduled to begin the two-day online course starting August 21st, 2019. In part two of this article, I will share my key takeaways from this course as well as my recommendation as well.