Posted by: Dennis Shiao | December 14, 2010

Virtual Edge Summit 2011: Session on Virtual-Enabled Learning Programs


The following is a guest post by Janet Clarey, an independent e-learning researcher/analyst and Technology Editor at Elearning! Magazine.  The original post appeared on Janet’s blog, JanetClarey.com.

The last time I was in Las Vegas I had just graduated from college, it was the 80s, and I was with my parents and grandparents who were visiting from Scotland. My clearest memory is falling asleep near the pool on one of those pool lounge chairs with the plastic strips and having a sunburn that looked like I had fallen asleep on one of those pool lounge chairs with the plastic strips.

I return to Las Vegas in January for the Virtual Edge Summit 2011 where I’ll speak for Elearning! Media Group with my good friend, and former colleague, 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.

Now you wouldn’t intentionally design and deliver a program that is not engaging right? Right? But, what we  intend to do and what we actually do aren’t always the same. At least for me. Perhaps that’s because I don’t always know what I 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 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.


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