Why Effective Virtual Conversations Accelerate Learning and Knowledge Application – Tip #183

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What can you say about Virtual Training? How is it different from the typical training setup? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As for me, I think virtual training is all about engaging conversations. Here’s why.

Lecture vs. Interaction

There are two types of virtual training. The first one is what I call the Linear Virtual Training model. It consists of straight presentation that’s heavy on content dump or overload.

This linear method is a one-way process, where the presenter does all the talking; learners are only supposed to listen. This results in low engagement. There’s no conversation or interaction going on.

In contrast, the second type of virtual training—the Interactive Virtual Training approach—makes use of microlearning concepts such as “must-learn” and “learn-on-need.”

Must-learn content addresses areas of high value or impact, while learn-on-need content are resources and references that provide more details and complement the must-learn content. The separation of content into must-learn and learn-on-need avoids content dump as well as boring and irrelevant virtual training presentations.

This method involves less lecture from the presenter and more thinking and application from the learners. This model also provides plenty of interaction between the presenter and the learners. There’s a conversation going on and it’s more engaging. As a result, the Interactive Virtual Training approach helps learners to learn, recall, and apply ideas.

While the Linear Virtual Training model is a logical delivery of ideas, it’s really a “superficial treatment.” Whereas the Interactive Virtual Training model requires a “fundamental shift” in goals: from creating aesthetically organized templates and standard lectures to engaging learners and accelerating their learning and application of knowledge.

Why Conversations Matter

In a technologically enabled world, social learning and collaboration have become more easier than ever before.

And, both of these can’t happen without conversations. There’s no social learning without the exchange of ideas, and one of the key factors of successful collaboration in today’s world is “conversation turn taking.” Social learning and collaboration are essential in successfully navigating today’s work environment characterized by rapid change and demand for quick information and problem-solving.

Virtual Training Conversation Ideas

Here are some ideas on how to start or foster conversations in your own virtual training sessions.

Ask provocative questions that spark discussions and sharing of stories.
“Move” learners or stir up their emotions with interactive stories.
Acknowledge or call learners by name as you read their answers, comments, or feedback.
Encourage “silent” participants to join in the discussion.
Use “curious language.
Share your experiences and facilitate experience sharing.


Tip #40 – Your Brain Prefers Interactive Stories: Not Lectures
Tip #48 – Stop That Dump Truck! Ask Questions to Know What is Important for Learners
Tip #54 – Social Learning Ought to be Story-Sharing: “Friends You Haven’t Met Yet”
Tip #137 – How to Be a Kung Fu Webinar and Virtual Trainer Master
Tip #138 – What I learned from the WEBINAR Gurus –Thiagi, Lou Russell, Jane Bozarth
Tip #173 – The “Secret Sauce” of Virtual Collaboration
Tip #181 – The Conversation Loop: Foster Learning Through Experience Sharing
Tip #182 – Curious Language Sparks Learning Engagement

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

2 thoughts on “Why Effective Virtual Conversations Accelerate Learning and Knowledge Application – Tip #183

  1. Very important distinctions, particularly when the program designer of self-study eLearning or virtual online facilitator is a subject expert or academic who knows "too much." They often want to cram in everything they think is important without hands-on experience doing the job itself, under fire, as wetware. Thought challenges get participants discovering for themselves the what-why-how, practicing mental ways to apply key concepts/strategies to work challenges, and as a result strengthen a sense of ownership rather than resistance to learning new techniques.

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