Going Virtual – #1

I’ll cut right to it: Tons of people are now interested in shifting over to virtual delivery of their meetings and learning events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure many have been interested for a long time, but this recent health crisis has accelerated the need for solutions – not tomorrow, but today.

I’m going to be offering some quick lessons on this from my experience. I have been an education designer for thirty years, and have been on the innovation edge of using new technologies to deliver learning experiences for a long time. If you need to know more about credentials, go for it.

In the meantime: Here is the first installment. Each of these installments is designed to be a 5 minute read, with a framework and an example.

Foundations, Exploration, Application – 3 phase design

At the very beginning, I encourage you (and your team if you have one) to ask some critical, exploratory questions that will help you tease out the topic(s) of your event.

  1. What reading material, videos, questionnaires, surveys, assessments, exercises, etc. should we have our attendees do IN ADVANCE of getting together virtually? A virtual meeting that starts with introductions of those present represents, in most cases, poor design right out of the gate. You should provide your attendees with background info for the topics at hand, and, importantly, ASK them key questions that gain their personal investment in learning more from the event you are planning. This phase is called FOUNDATIONS, because it is meant to provide foundational content and context, as well as gather important input from attendees that will make your event more meaningful for them, as well as more efficient.
  2. What topics and exercises require synchronous interaction, under the guidance of facilitators and experts? If you find yourself covering factual knowledge (lower end of Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy) during a live session, then I suspect a poor design. Please save your precious time together for those things that require togetherness. Things such as:
    • Simulations
    • Real-time problem solving
    • Team exercises / experiences
    • Converstional skills / “soft” skills practice
    • Presentations with feedback
    • Coaching

We call this EXPLORATIONS, because this is where you do deep-dives on topics, under the guidance of experts, and, importantly, practice new skills and receive feedback.

3. What activities, materials and support is needed to ensure that our attendees can apply new knowledge and skills successfully in their context? IF your event is a ‘one and done’, with no consideration of what next for the attendees, then I suspect poor design. Consider how you can link everything – from the FOUNDATIONAL content, through the EXPLORATIONS together, on to APPLICATION in the workplace or context that matters for your attendees. For example, a foundational survey might reveal particular areas of need or interest for the individuals, related to the topics at hand. During the exploratory synchronous event, you do a deep dive with an expert on that area of need, and the expert provides his or her favorite tools to use back at work. You then provide that application support by arranging a way for the attendees to access the tool, you structure learning trios for peer support, and you might even schedule a follow-up call or web meeting to have attendees report back on how things are going – lessons learned and issues faced.

The FEA model – designing for virtual / blended delivery.

Next up: Your Tech Assessment

Allies in April – La Mesa #WPC21Mesa

Comp Warrior Bootcamp cover One year ago, I met Dr. David Campt.  Since the first time I talked with him on the phone, he and I have connected in some pretty profound ways. Most of all, we agree about the most important role white allies can play in moving the needle on racism and build a better, more compassionate and connected world.

David and I collaborated on this edition of his Boot Camp last spring (available here). Since then, I have worked many hours with David as we brainstormed ideas for how to reach allies and what they need to be more effective and stay engaged. So when the call for proposals to present at the White Privilege Conference came out, we applied. Yesterday we were accepted and will be there April 1- 4. Check out the conference, If you decide to go, please make sure to connect with us at our session. Our topic is “Silence is Violence – How the privilege of staying silent or being unproductively confrontational about racism is harming communities of color as well as white communities.”


“Oh no – he didn’t just do that!”

Participants in the beta test of Through My Eyes had these kinds of reactions – curious, intense, emotional and familiar.

Presence; choices; data collected.

We are thrilled to partner with BCT Partners, who are on a mission to create a diverse and equitable society, and Research Triangle Institute, a research institution dedicated to improving the human condition. What happens when you mix learning design with immersive technology, diversity and inclusion context, and data collection expertise? You have a new opportunity for data-driven discussions and personalized action-planning related to creating a more diverse and equitable society. The human condition is improved – at least a bit.

I want to thank, in particular, Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO of BCT Partners for his expertise, energy and enthusiasm; Dr. Lucas Blair, for his ‘anything is possible’ attitude and team commitment (Ms. Heather Wiggins, product portfolio manager and Ms. Kellie Jones, programmer extraordinaire); Mr. Mike Cuales, CEO of LEVR studios for his genuine blend of humor, humility and deep technical expertise; and our pilot participants for giving us the feedback we needed, and for proving the power of the immersion.

And now, we are starting to go on the road. Interested? Contact us here.

Mike Cuales, Kellie Jones, Lucas Blair, Heather Wiggins, Steve Mahaley, Randal Pinkett