Tapping the Essence of Presence for Virtual-Enabled Learning Programs

Janet Cleary eLearning Magazine

We’re excited to have several learning experts with us at the Virtual Edge Institute. One of these esteemed speakers is Janet Clarey, Technology Editor for Elearning! Media Group. Connet with Janet on Twitter @jclarey or leave a comment below.

Previously, she was a researcher and writer at Brandon Hall Research. Her background is in corporate training where she focused on instructional design and implementing competency-based technical training programs. She is an experienced virtual & classroom trainer/facilitator and courseware designer. She has served as project manager for several large training initiatives, including the implementation of learning management, learning content management, and talent management systems.

I’m preparing to speak for Elearning! Media Group next month at the Virtual Edge Summit 2011 with my good friend, and former colleague at Brandon Hall Research, Emma King who is now VP Learning & Development with INXPO. Our session is on virtual-enabled learning programs with a focus on how to design and deliver programs so they’re engaging.

Of course you wouldn’t intentionally design and deliver a program that is not engaging right? Despite good intentions however, what you intend to do and what you actually do aren’t always the same.

Perhaps that’s because we don’t know what we don’t know. It calls to mind a quote by Maya Angelou, “You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.” So Emma and I intend to “know better.”

As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s always good to define the terms we’re using. Nothing worse than walking out of a session saying, “I thought that was going to be about…”

The first term is “virtual-enabled learning program” and the second (more than a definition) is (what constitutes) “engagement”?

A too simplistic definition of “virtual-enabled learning program” is a learning program that can be accessed on the Web. A better approach is to see “virtual” as much more than simply accessing Web content. Virtual brings to mind the very essence of presence.

That is the element we want to elevate. Checking Yes or No a few times or answering a polling question or two does not make a virtual program. We want to engage people to the point that they feel “present.”

I believe designing for virtual learning programs (and hybrid programs) require three areas of focus – (1) deciding what methods you can use to bring about solutions to the problem you’re addressing (2) planning for how you can support a learning environment to problem-solve and collaborate, and (3) thoroughly understanding the virtual learning environment platform you will be using. Hybrid events go one further in that you must optimize interaction among virtual and non-virtual attendees.

We’re designing our session design to model the design practices we are advocating.

  • Engaging design
  • Engaging delivery
  • Special considerations for hybrid events
  • Best use of virtual learning platforms

I hope to see you at the event – whether virtually or face-to-face.

About Donna Sanford

Donna Sanford | Founder and former Publisher of EXPO Magazine and Program Consultant for the Virtual Edge Summit