While digital learning has become increasingly common in recent years, social distancing restrictions and lockdown measures prompted by the pandemic have greatly accelerated the move from face-to-face towards online learning delivery. And this trend is expected to continue.

But what do we know about the effectiveness of virtual classrooms? What approaches work or don’t work? This evidence review looks at the challenges and success factors in virtual classes or webinars where people can interact directly to provide evidence-based insight on the skills sets, methods and techniques that support digital learning.

Explore the evidence

Key recommendations

Although some people may prefer face-to-face learning, evidence suggests virtual classrooms can be just as successful if they are well designed and delivered.

L&D practitioners and managers can ensure their virtual classrooms are built for success through:

  • Designing and adapting L&D content – reduce cognitive load on learners, increase media richness and adopt techniques like scaffolding content, providing worked examples and direct instructions.

  • Preparing learners – set clear goals and objectives and develop strategies to help them ‘learn to learn’ and to ‘think about thinking’.

  • Social processes – make learning a social process by including group interaction and adopting approaches such as peer tutoring and co-operative learning.

  • Practice and reinforcement – avoid ‘injection education’ and deliver learning as a process that takes time. Give learners time to absorb and practice in retrieving new learning.

Download our Practice summary and recommendations for more details.

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