Top tips for facilitating virtual learning sessions

West of England Academic Health Science Network

As remote and virtual working continues to be the norm, methods for facilitating learning sessions and sharing knowledge have had to change for Quality Improvement (QI) teams across the country. To help encourage webinar engagement and interaction, the West of England Academic Health Science Network have shared their ‘top tips’ from hosting weekly QI webinars. The QI Summer Series was highly successful, receiving 100% positive feedback from attendees. Whilst the team used Zoom to deliver their webinars, there are a number of fantastic insights that can help others looking to host their own meetings and events online. We have summarised these below.

Establish team roles

The team suggest there should be three key roles when running a session:

  • The Tech: this person will manage attendees, arrange the break out rooms and control broadcasting/sharing the group activity messages
  • The Host: this person welcomes attendees and presents the closing remarks. They control and share the presentation screen, and manage the transition between speakers and activities, and
  • The Co-Host: this person will engage with the discussion in the chat box. They are often the timekeeper and organise sharing links and instructions throughout the session.

Communication during the webinar

When facilitators are planning sessions and communicating with one another during the session, it could help to establish an off-line method for communicating. Instant communication means that facilitators can act quickly and adapt to things as they happen. Planning pre-briefs and debriefs ensures reflection and capturing all learning as quickly as possible. Facilitators may also want to consider live evaluation during the session to keep track of what went well, did not work, and new ideas to try. Should there be any guest facilitators, make sure you take the time to discuss how you will communicate with them during the session.

Break out room success

When designing break out rooms, the team highlight that hosts should establish ground rules and share these at the start. This will encourage participants to listen to one another and raise awareness about taking it in turns to speak. Hosts should also be clear about the format and timing for different activities. This could include providing clear instructions and updates in the chat box to ensure participants are always aware of how the session is progressing. Lastly, they suggest that hosts go ‘back to basics’ and that a pen and paper can help them check they do not leave anyone behind. New tools are not always better!

Lastly, here are some quick ways you can encourage interaction in meetings:

  • Include an icebreaker question to get people involved from the outset
  • QR codes can be an easy way to share instant access to links and resources
  • Use the chat box functions and do not be afraid of asking people to expand on their comments when facilitating discussions
  • Demonstrate and encourage the use of non-verbal functions (such as thumbs-up) throughout the session, and
  • Use a variety of methods (such as voting or word clouds) for capturing and sharing feedback.

The full presentation of top tips is available to download from the West of England Academic Health Science Network website

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