How important are the connections?
Recently, I came across a website devoted to teaching, teachers and trainers. There is, of course, no end to those sites but as a virtual ethics trainer and ethics consultant, I am always desirous of learning more.
An article that piqued my interest (by its title alone!) was “What I Wish I knew Before Becoming a Virtual Trainer,” because I certainly have some ideas on the topic. As the president of Virtual Training Associates (VTA), I have certainly learned a lot. We have been in the virtual training business for several years, even when we were also devoting time to in-person ethical training appearances. One paragraph that caught my eye was the following [Note: the italics are mine].
“Whereas in a traditional classroom you may have found it easy to forge relationships with students, in a virtual environment it becomes much more challenging. The caseloads of teachers, combined with the virtual classroom platform, make it challenging to forge connections with students.”
Agree and Disagree
We would agree, of course, that we would all wish we would have known then – what we know now. Certainly, it is almost the law eternal. However, when Virtual Training Associates started to hone its virtual training craft, virtual training was still in its crawling stages.
However, even then we realized that forging relationships and connections with students would be a challenge. The visual cues of in-person training, the spur of the moment opportunities, the live questions, the ability to emphasize a point with body language and many more nuances would be lost. The flaw is when trainers, giving up hope of “spontaneity,” instead default to virtual presentations that are flat and distant.
We routinely post on this site as to the many problems being encountered in virtual secondary and collegiate education including drop-out rates and, in general, disengagement. This trend, on a percentage basis, as well as sheer numbers, has risen exponentially since the start of the pandemic.
A droning, professorial tone certainly doesn’t cut it in a person-to-person lecture, but in a virtual setting, it is akin to virtual death by boredom. In such situations, whether the training is a semester-long Shakespeare Sonnet class or a two-part training on gender and diversity issues, it is a guarantee that the observation that a virtual class will make it challenging to forge connections with students is spot-on. Whether those “students” are a 350-member international, pharmaceutical marketing group or junior college freshman, a failure to try to engage will shut down the discussion.
The point is that as a virtual trainer and president of VTA, I have spent decades becoming a Hall of Fame speaker in addition to understanding and knowing the material. My training as a speaker, and indeed, as a trainer of speakers allows me to make the transition to the “small Zoom or Google Meet or any other screen,” to actively engage and form connections with audiences.
Quality Virtual Training
There is another overlay to this important discussion that is all too often overlooked. Students of any age have remarkably short attention spans. Classes must be short and distinct but every bit as important, the production quality must be excellent.
We cannot expect professionals who spend hours a week streaming movies or watching professionally televised sports platforms to settle for inferior quality training materials. Virtual Training Associates boasts its own, world-class, professional broadcasting studio. The quality of our materials is so high, that our same studio has been used for remotes for television stations with national feeds.
To teach subjects such as ethics and to engage students it is not just a matter of a mere connection, but for engagement and lasting impressions. At VTA our goal is to get across powerful, timely and vital information. Our materials are remembered because our passion comes through in what we say, and how we say it.
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