Tips for Virtual Sessions

Virtual professional development sessions offer a customizable way to work with staff who might have difficulty meeting in person whether it be due to location or time limitations. 

Prior to the Session

  • Determine whether staff members have access to the internet, web camera, and a media play (to view skill videos). Help identify local resources (for example, a public library) if they do not have access to a personal computer and internet.
  • Identify video conferencing software or services to use for the virtual meetings. Video chat/web conferencing options to consider:
    • Skype - free group video calls
    • Zoom - free plan allows 40 minute meeting with up to 50 participants
    • GoToMeeting - free plan available
  • Send an email to participants to set a time to meet. Encourage staff to consider time and space so they can find a quiet area to ensure they can easily hear and respond to one another via computer or phone.
  • When a date and time have ben selected, send another email including technical information for the session and any other information they may need, such as a link to the skill video, supplies to have available, or handouts they will need. Ask participants to RSVP by replying to the email.
  • Practice setting up the video or phone conference using the tool you have selected. Work through any technical issues so your session can go smoothly.
  • Read through the professional development guide to familiarize yourself with the content. Plan how to personalize it to fit your presentation style. Think about questions you can use to deepen learning.
  • Be sure you know what you will be doing and have all the materials and supplies required.

During the Session

  • At the beginning of the meeting, give directions about the technology features that will be used (screen share or others), ensure each participant has the video link ready, and also explain how questions will be asked and answered.
  • Thank members for their time and ask for any feedback (positive or negative) about the virtual setting. Welcome suggestions for changes to identify more effective ways to use the virtual settings for professional development.

After the Session

  • As a follow-up to the meeting (within a few days to a week), send an email to participants to thank them for the time spend developing their facilitation skills. Remind staff of what they might (individually) do to continue developing the particular skill.
  • Ask participants to send a follow-up email to you indicating:
    • Their comfort level using the technology to complete the virtual session
    • The ease of use of the technology - from their perspective;
    • Feedback to make future virtual session more effective (e.g., different format; more preparation on part of the staff members ahead of time; etc.).
  • Use any feedback to adapt the virtual session to the needs of your staff members.

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