How to Adapt: Resources for Digital Instruction

One of the most influential mentors and leaders in my adult life is the spirited Keith Ball. Mr. Ball, or “KB” as he’s widely known, was the principal of the school at which I taught for 5 years (years 9 – 13 of my teaching career). I’ll never forget Keith’s messages on leadership, education, and responsibility. On repeat he’d remind us teachers that it is our job to BE ADAPTABLE.

E-instruction is VERY DIFFERENT from in-person instruction! And since many educators, including those of us in the L&D world, are now creating digital plans to deliver training, I thought I would compile (and update) resources from around the education, LMS, and L&D world in one place.


“Maslow before Bloom”

Love this quick synopsis by Angela Gibson:

Even if you’re not completely new to e-instruction an instructional design, I recommend starting with this webinar from Karen Costa and Clea Mahoney. In addition to an outline of what it looks like to meet people where they are, improve presentation skills, tools for feedback, a lesson planning template and more!


Personally, my experience with online learning platforms is limited to Zoom Meeting, GoToTraining, WebEx, and Canvas (Instructure). Each platform has its pros and cons, so look into what is important to you and your students before making this decision. See the bottom of this post for free webinars on the use of Zoom.

Be sure to teach your students how to use the platform you’re using before you get into the meat of your course! Don’t assume they know how to interact online.

Shifting to E-Instruction

I can’t stress enough how different digital instruction is to in-person teaching! You definitely have to plan it out in a similar way, but pacing, tone of voice, and even the activities you choose will be different from your typical delivery. Spending some time preparing using a lesson plan template to help organize your time and think through your essential questions, activities, and formative assessments.


I spent some time on the phone this morning with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Rachel is a an instructional designer and a long-time digital instructor for Power School. I asked her if she’d help me with tips for instructors teaching virtually for the first time. At the moment I’m typing this, she’s still sending me texts as she thinks of more tips – so come back later and you’ll most likely find this list has grown:

  • Keep it moving, but not racing
  • Don’t leave dead time for hands-on activities. If it takes less time than you planned, get it moving.
  • Don’t navigate too quickly from one page to the next. There’s always a time lag and while you’re saying, “Click here, then there” and simultaneously doing that, people’s screens haven’t caught up.

Planning Activities

First determine what capabilities your learning platform provides. Break-out rooms, polls, chat boxes, and mini quizzes are just some of the possibilities, depending on the platform. Then use the lesson plan you’ve been using to determine which capabilities can be used to engage the learners. Examples:

  • At the beginning of the course, have every student write something in the chat box – something personal. For example, “Where are you located?” or “What is the nearest object to your left?” You’ll get a feel for the pulse of the room and set up expectations for an interactive learning environment from the beginning.
  • You’ve just taught the entire group a new use for a concept or tool we’ll call “X”. Use break-out rooms for participants of similar job functions to discuss one or two ways of how they can immediately implement X when they return to their desk. POP IN on the break out rooms and ask a question – you want to hold participants accountable.
  • Have participants share screens. But share the love, don’t ask the same person each time even if they are the only one willing.
  • Don’t forget to keep using the chat box to gauge the room.
  • Post polls (uploaded/created ahead of time). These can be used as immediate feedback for you and the participants if you create simple multiple choice questions “quizzing” them on a concept they just learned.
  • Have a white board in your office? Use it! Have a collaborative session where participants throw out ideas. Stand up, write them down on that white board! Just because you aren’t in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t move around like you would in a typical training room.
  • Kahoot! is a fun way to game your topic – and give the participants a break. While it’s free for educators, there is a charge for business. Setting up the quiz on the front end is simple and participants can play from their browser OR their phone.

During Instruction

More from Rachel Ogg:

  • Use a mouse cursor large enough for participants to see easily. Steer clear of that big, round, yellow highlight cursor. It can be distracting and, more importantly, it hides everything behind it.
  • When you ask learners questions, give them time to answer, especially if you’re asking them to chat their answers. It takes time to type. Also, if folks will only be chatting their answers (as opposed to speaking them aloud), try and ask questions that require short-ish responses.
  • Call on specific people to do something or show you something. This increases learner attention. Be sure to tell them from the outset you’ll be doing this.

Train the Trainer Resources

The Bob Pike Group offers training bootcamps to get your trainers up to speed on virtual delivery. Their website also provides multiple resources for e-instruction such as webinars, a blog, and guides.

The Association for Talent Development also provides multiple webinars for virtual interactions, including how to convert your classroom to a virtual environment and openers and checklists for facilitators.

eLearning Guild is packed FULL of resources for the e-learning instructor. Start with a free guide to Getting Started in eLearning.

More Resources

10 Tips for Giving Effective Virtual Presentations

Check back later for more!!

Published by

Anna Foard

Former math and statistics teacher. Current statistics consultant, data visualization enthusiast, and Certified Tableau Trainer with Data Crunch.

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