What's In A Name? "Virtual" Training

02/10/2022 10:07 AM | Paul Venderley

I’ve got a confession to make.

I’ve never liked the term: “Virtual Training.”

According to Merriam Webster, the “essential definition” of “virtual” is: “very close to something without actually being it.”*  Synonyms include: “near,” “near enough,” “for all practical purposes.”

I’ve disliked that implication. That what we were doing was, for all practical purposes, “near enough” to training, but not really.

Because what we do, of course, when we facilitate classes over WebEx, or MS Teams, or Zoom, is really training.  It’s the classroom that’s virtual, its boundaries suddenly expanding from the four walls of the trainer’s room all the way across the nation, even the world, to the outer walls of the learners’ rooms (or cubicles).

The training? That’s still real.  Its results are still measurable.  They have to be.

This is what ATD-Orange County’s “Total Trainer University: Creating the Virtual Classroom” is about.  We’re not content to create something that’s very close to training without actually being training.  The courses we design will occur on computers and the internet, but they will not stop there. We will apply technology to deliver a lesson plan, but our objectives will still be met within a physical environment.  We will sit in front of cameras and monitors while we work through a Leader’s Guide, but we will still engage with our participants, identifying learning opportunities and achievements.

Yes, because the training is delivered over fiber optic cables, we’re not able to facilitate learning conversations the same way as we would if we were all in the same space.  So we’ll adopt different practices, develop different skills, facilitate online activities that are very close to what we would have led were everyone in the same physical space, and accomplish, for all practical purposes, the same learning objective(s).

Total Trainer University: Creating the Virtual Classroom will cover polls, breakout rooms, and online chat, but it won’t be about those webinar resources.  What it will be about is how we can apply online tools to push the boundaries of our virtual classroom beyond the four sides of our computer monitors, how we can tap into available learning resources in such a way that ignites our learners and help them achieve their objectives, and how we can make the overall experience as good as being there.

If something like this intrigues you, make sure you're getting our Chapter eNewsletter, and watch for the post announcing Creating The Virtual Classroom's start date.  It'll be soon (Q2 2022).

*From Merriam-Webster’s “full definition”: “being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted.”  In other words, the first definition was a “virtual” definition.

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