design impLications for viRtuaL cLassRooms

I’ve been asked to put together a lunch and learn on the design implications for virtual classrooms.  That’s a pretty fancy title for what will essentially be a 45 minute webinar on how important content is.

Same conversation we’d have if it was design implications for the live classroom, design implications for eLearning, or design implications for whatever it is you’re designing for adult learning.

In my research and experience, it seems like the biggest concern about virtual classrooms is the engagement factor.  I share that concern, but only in its broadest sense – all of our instructional design should seek to be engaging and way too many people with the title of instructional designer think that engagement is rollovers and media clips and fancy graphics.

Think back to a live training session you went to.  Now consider if it was engaging and ask yourself why.  Was there a high resolution image that MADE that training for you?  A funny little video?  Or was it engaging and a learning experience because it was relevant, timely, and directly impacted you as you learned it?

Virtual classrooms are no different.  There’s no magic bullet to keeping it engaging.  At the end of the day, we’re still instructional designers and we’re still tasked with curating the content to make it matter to the learner in a tangible way.  No amount of emoticons, polling questions, or breakout rooms will hide poorly presented bad content.

But – because everyone wants to hear that it does – my task is designing a creative, engaging lunch and learn webinar that tells that story.