Virtual Classroom an Important Reality by Andy Brough

The management development and training market has had to reinvent itself over the past 18 months. As corporates have taken the opportunity to reexamine the investment in organizational development, providers have found creative ways to continue to offer top-quality content and expert faculty to the markets where they are needed most. One of the tools that has facilitated this process is the virtual classroom. There is no doubt that first prize in a development context is a face to face intervention, however the past year has shown that, when used correctly, the virtual platform offers a multitude of possibilities:

(a) Real time interactivity across numerous geographies

The virtual classroom enables participants to log in to a secure site with a key from any location in the world. Using a bridging line for the audio means that one can call into the conference from the convenience of a home or office setting. The faciliator is then able to manage the process by sharing material through uploading the content, or through desktop sharing. Content can be distributed and accessed immediately

(b) Break out activities and group work

Imagine being able to set up groups of learners and then sending them into a virtual breakout room where they can work independently of another group. This is particularly useful for programmes such as High Performance Teams or Negotiation Excellence. Group members can be given "presenter status" and create their own summaries, lists, surveys and brainstorming sessions using the virtual whiteboard. All of this work done in the breakout rooms can be share in the main room if so desired. 

(c) Multiple communication channels

Whilst not all virtual environments cater for face to face communication, or video streaming (often this is simply due to limited bandwidth rather than a software limitation), the virtual classroom allows for audio conversation, public room chat (text messages) in both the main room and the break out rooms  as well as private text messages between individual participants and/or the facilitator or leader.

(d) Cost and Convenience

Travel and conference costs are eliminated. Learners can participate from the convenience of the location of their choice. 

Should you be interested in exploring the opportunities for management development and training in the virtual classroom, please feel free to contact us.

Andy Brough is an organizational and leadership development consultant, Chartered Marketer and expert in virtual classroom facilitation. You can contact him on andrewbrough.com or andyb[at]andrewbrough[dot]com