What goes on when the cameras are off during virtual training?

When the world’s workforce moved to working from home, many organizations were forced to lean heavily on virtual video call platforms for training, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Webex, and more. It was all business attire at the top, sweats on the bottom, as employees altered their workwear to fit the scope of their webcams. And when the house was dirty, the kids were running amok, or they just didn’t feel like dressing up from the waist up, many employees chose to turn their cameras off. 

Meeting leaders and trainers found themselves in the untenable position of trying to respect personal boundaries while maintaining productive work and learning environments. When employees turn their video and audio feeds off, they disengage, their leaders/trainers are unable to make meaningful connections, and productivity and retention plummet.

In the corporate training business, we’ve seen first-hand the impact of trainees tuning out during virtual meetings and training sessions. In fact, it’s become a trope on our team—what are people really doing when their cameras are off?

Hands up (virtually) if you’ve redirected your attention from an off-camera video call to read a text message or email… Guilty? Thought as much! That’s why we recently created a tongue-in-cheek video series showing what learners are really up to when the camera’s off and the mic is muted—from sipping a cocktail on the beach, to playing a game of billiards, or taking a dip in the pool. Check these out.

What are people really doing when their cameras are off during a virtual training session?

Making a Splash

Working on Work/Life Balance

Racking up Success

Of course, these are ludicrous examples of people losing focus off-camera, but the critical point we want to reinforce is that our ability to retain and apply content is directly tied to our level of attention and engagement.

When it comes to delivering effective virtual learning and development initiatives, learner engagement is a critical difference between success and failure. 

As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with each other. Team-based discovery learning provides a safe space where people can interact freely, and encourages all team members to be engaged and attentive. Cameras-on in a team-based setting promotes participation and engagement and enhances the experience through non-verbal cues and body language. And when you can see each member of your team, it’s easier to call on them to hear their ideas, ask questions, and collaborate with them. 

Seeing enhances trust

Trust is an important component of team-based learning and development. When learners trust one another, they are more likely to take the kinds of risks that are an integral part of learning:

  • Sharing personal experiences
  • Asking and answering questions
  • Solving challenges
  • Exploring best practices and common failure points

Seeing those with whom we interact is also an essential part of building trust within teams. When learners can see one another, there is a greater opportunity for them to develop trust, which enhances the learning experience. Studies show that audio-only interactions result in less trust and less consistent levels of trust. On the other hand, using synchronous, team-based learning with videos on enhances communication and trust, situating learners as active participants in the learning experience rather than passive recipients of information. And we know that active learning leads to greater retention and application

It also means that we can trust that the person isn’t actually playing a game of billiards during the training!

Facing each other with flexibility, not force 

Something the pandemic has brought to the fore is that employees are more satisfied when given a level of flexibility, especially when it comes to remote working. Throughout this challenging time, it’s become increasingly clear that taking the wants and needs of individuals into consideration is a vital part of educational and personal success. So, the trick to maximizing learning outcomes is not only delivering immersive and engaging experiences, but also respecting people’s time and preferences; if they’re not able to fully engage at a particular time, it’s best to respect and accept that and invite them to participate at a time when they can get the most out of the experience. 

Audio on. Video on. Fully engaged, by choice. 

Although it’s possible to engage in discussions without seeing others, seeing those with whom we’re engaging provides meaningful cues that facilitate the interactions implicated in active learning. Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM is a synchronous, team-driven, discovery learning platform (cameras on!) that delivers immersive learning experiences that employees consistently choose to fully engage in. 

In ExperienceBUILDER simulations, teams of learners are presented with real-world challenges to work through collectively and collaboratively in order to move forward. Live scoring and leader boards encourage healthy competition and maximize engagement, resulting in improved learner outcomes. People are connecting with each other in real time and solving the same challenges they’re struggling with on the job. Because it’s a shared experience, the team can take its solutions right back to the workplace.

So, don’t rely on talking head presentations that lead your virtual learners to switch off both their cameras and their minds while sipping cocktails on the beach. Get in touch with the Blueline team to set up a free consultation to discuss how team-based immersive learning experiences can benefit your organization. 

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