5 Tips for Leading Professional Learning Virtually

If you are a professional development provider like I am, you get into the profession to make a personal connection with people. There is nothing I enjoy more about my job than getting into a room with a group of educators and getting to know them in the often too short time that we are together. With the current reality of the situation we are living in, the prospect of getting back into a room with people seems a long way off. This means that many of us will have to shift toward delivering our content virtually via a platform like Zoom or Google Meet.

Leading professional development in this manner can be a challenge. It is much different than having everyone’s attention in one room. Teachers are probably at home, distracted by kids, pets, or spouses. As the presenter, it is up to us to make sure our delivery methods are enough to keep our audience engaged and learning with us. 

To that end, I have my five tips for leading professional learning online. I have had vast experience leading groups of educators through online training, and with that comes quite a few ups and downs. While the process is never as smooth as in-person delivery, these five tips can assist in making the experience better for you and your audience!

Outline of Tips in the Video

  1. Be prepared
    • Have your presentation ready and well prepared.
    • Have questions and discussion prompts available to start conversation with your audience.
    • Be prepared for silence, you might have to talk the whole time
    • If you are using Zoom and want discussion to occur, use the breakout room feature.
  2. Have your system set up for delivering quality content
    • Have your camera placed on an elevated surface or use a webcam that is eye level.
    • Have a quality microphone, this might not mean headphones, some of those mics are worse that the one on your computer! Test your audio quality with someone ahead of your presentation.
    • Be in a room with good lighting so people can see you better.
    • Turn off your notifications on your computer and phone. These can be distracting to you and your audience.
    • If possible use two monitors, or at least a second device like an iPad. This can be helpful in looking up information while your presentation is on the screen.
  3. If possible, have a co-host
    • They are great for assisting in moderating the chat for you.
    • They can listen more closely to discussions for things you might have missed.
    • They are helpful to talk to in times of silence.
    • When the session is over they are someone to debrief with.
  4. Know Your Platform
    • Whether it is Zoom, Google Meet, or something else understand it’s basic features
    • Know how to share joining information with audience members that are attempting to join late
    • Know how to start and moderate the chat
    • Sharing your screen is of utmost importance. You will most likely have a presentation, make sure people can see it.
    • Know how to mute your rouge audience microphones. It might not be their fault but mics turn on sometimes, know how to shut them off.
  5. Have empathy for your participants
    • Don’t force them to sit and listen for long periods of time, keep sessions reasonably short and give breaks if needed.
    • This is a new experience for many, if they leave their mic on don’t be mad about it, understand they didn’t mean to interrupt you.
    • Silence from the group doesn’t mean they don’t understand, sometimes silence is just how video instruction goes.