[Avis d’expert] Online training, instructions for use

Not only is it possible to do online what we did face-to-face, but experience shows that we can do better, provided that we disrupt the way we design training. And the belief that nothing beats face-to-face has fallen for many.

If the use of digital in training is not new. The fact remains that the Covid crisis has resulted in accelerating the change, or even reshuffling the cards. Because if many formations, forced and constrained, proclaimed to have gone “online” after March 17, 2020, the change is now much more profound and irreversible.

Contrary to what many thought, online training is not and cannot be a simple transposition of what exists online, from face-to-face to distance learning. It would undoubtedly be simpler, but the reality is that distance training necessarily involves entirely revisited educational tools. In any case, this is the conclusion I reached after months of work, questioning, and, above all, putting into practice with dozens of companies and people supported in “full digital”.

Make a revolution

And the transition was not easy. In many cases, classic trainings, for example three days (three times eight hours), have been replicated online. However, while it is difficult to train and maintain face-to-face attention, requiring participants to do the same online is illusory. Yet this is what has often been observed in training courses or universities across the country.

Thus, a person of my entourage, who had chosen to train in finance in a prestigious school, was offered courses which remained simple “copy and paste” of those usually given face-to-face. The same learned monologue from the professor, illustrated by an imposing farandole of slides …

To truly switch to online education or training, you have to review your copy. It is because “online” has led to reinventing the design of pedagogy and training that I have chosen to operate this revolution in the training and support that I offer.

Founders’ choices

On March 17, 2020, the confinement and its consequences were hard to take. However, the realization was quick: we have to reinvent everything in our training and our support. Not for fun, nor just to respond to a one-off constraint, but to reinvent yourself and go further (than face-to-face). It is about inventing a distance, an online format that makes it possible to offer more successful, more successful training courses, both in terms of learning and experiential terms.

Of course, irreparably, to go in this direction, “to put an end to the face-to-face” would imply a loss of socialization. But reinventing the design of its training courses must make it possible to compensate for, or even overcome, this loss. This is what experience teaches us after more than a year of practice.

To achieve this, the exercise involves a few fundamental choices. The first is to opt for a reverse pedagogy. Concretely, this translates into content, theoretical modules fully deported in the form of digital media and content. If I take, for example, the holacracy practitioner training, which took place in physics over five days in a row, the new design results in an opening session, eleven three-hour sessions., twenty-nine videos, all supported and set in motion with tools like Zoom, Slack, Klaxoon, Glassfrog or Holaspirit.

Transform pedagogy

Here, all the theoretical modules do not require face-to-face. Thanks to the videos, everyone is guided and can move forward at their own pace. From then on, time is freed up to transform the pedagogy. Each three-hour session is an opportunity for much richer and more dynamic interactions and is based on more learning and experimentation. Sessions which, moreover, allow in three hours to get to the bottom of things and to promote the experiential and to go further than the face-to-face. Each participant… participates, experiences rather than simply receiving the “beak”. He is really an actor in his training.

And to reinforce this use of a reverse pedagogy, this one is seen supplemented by the call for “liberating structures”, a dynamic and powerful pedagogy which proposes a grid of structures making it possible to involve everyone and to initiate questions.

To further consolidate this new educational design, there are also utility tools. They will allow learners to exchange, co-construct, share: documents, understanding, etc., on Slack. They will be able to lean against a “base camp” thanks to Klaxoon, in which they find all the resources, slides, videos or even a “board” of shared questions and answers. Finally, everything is done so that everyone meets everyone during the training, by multiplying the work in sub-groups of various sizes and by increasing contacts between different people. Finally, everyone experiences many more interactions than they would have face-to-face, is able to communicate their understanding and satisfaction, and therefore influence the quality of the training and pedagogy provided.

What gains with these digital training courses?

As mentioned above, undoubtedly the main gain lies in the depth of learning and the acquisition of skills. A gain that can be seen when you are a trainer and that has been measured. In my holacracy trainings, the trainees learn how to facilitate triage and governance meetings. However, the new training design allows participants to go faster, and especially further, during the longer scenarios that are offered to them.

Another noticeable gain is the time offered to everyone to digest the work and the experimentation between the different sessions. The implementation can be immediate and the progression effective in their professional context without waiting for the end of the training course. Not to mention that digital training is an excellent way to adapt to the pace of each person. Videos, content, media are available at will and the rest ad vitam life. These trainings also allow everyone, companies and employees, to optimize the schedules – it is much easier to place 11 sessions of 3 hours spread over 4 to 6 weeks than to block an entire week in face-to-face in Paris -, but also costs such as the environmental impact linked to trips that no longer need to be.

If, in recent months, distance training has undergone a profound revolution, a complete change in its software, the fact remains that to achieve its full potential, this revolution must still overcome or deal with certain brakes that persist. Unsurprisingly, the first is the unacknowledged reluctance of some to use digital tools. Another is that hard-to-die belief that “nothing beats face-to-face”. A limiting belief if there is one and which can be difficult for some. Finally, more prosaically, without really knowing if this can be solved, the brake on the number of participants in each training. Difficult in my experience to go beyond twelve people to make things go well in an online training. Either way, the revolution is underway. With better visibility and without limits, made possible by a “shift” in the design of training courses, in the service of increased quality.

By Bertrand Marie Chiquet, founder of the iGi institute


Expert opinions are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way commit the editorial staff of L’Usine Nouvelle.


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