Tips for Preparing Lessons for an Synchronous Environment

It is amazing how much good information is available for putting together effective learning lessons, why do well-meaning educators not use it?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to attend an ASTD Webinar on Instructional Design for the Synchronous Environment by Nanette Miner, Ed.D. who is with the Training Doctor, LLC. Aside from the audio difficulties, the presentation had a wealth of great information on preparing instruction for a synchronous environment. She foot stomped a number of principles that educators should already be using to help learners grasp new material.

As Miner explained her process for creating instructional system design for online environments, she outlined three key points that I took away:

  • What is the objective of learning?
  • How will the slides involve the learner?
  • Will learning involve a participant’s guide?

What is the objective of learning? While I have an objective in mind as I build my lessons, Miner is suggesting including a slide specifically pointing out to learners what they will be expected to do at the end of a lesson. Including an objective that ties back to one of Wlodkowski’s strategies for establishing inclusion. Since it has been driven home to me from two different resources, I will start incorporating this strategy.

How will the slides involve the learner? Miner outlined a number of great tips for developing visual slides for a lesson; however, the takeaway point for this topic was to create activities that had learners doing something every 3 to 5 minutes.  This again fits perfectly with Wlodkowski’s Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching. As you plan your instruction, you should weave these motivational strategies and activities into your lessons.  In my Improving your Webinars and Virtual Meetings lesson, I touch upon a number of these principles; I recommend that you take a look. She also stressed the importance of using more visuals and less text; I am already a believer.

Will learning involve a participant’s guide? I took away three key points on this topic. 1). Rather than put lots of text in your slide presentation, take it out and place it into a participants guide. 2). A PowerPoint slide handout is not a participant guide. 3). A participant guide is a learner’s lifeline, this should be the takeaway from the lesson.  Miner provides a useful guide for preparing participant guides; it can be found on pages 4-9 of this guide.

This was a solid presentation that reinforced ideas I had about learning and instruction, as well as, provided me with additional things to think about. I have to get smarter on developing participant guides.


ISD Process for Synchronous Environments Participant guide (PDF)