In July we introduced Zodiak Virtual, a virtually delivered version of our classroom business acumen simulation Zodiak: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy.
Like many of you, we had to identify a solution against some common challenges of adapting classroom training virtually. It’s not an easy feat, but it can be done with some guidance. Here are seven important tips to consider when transforming the in-person classroom into a virtual one.
1. TRANSFORM RATHER THAN CONVERT
Instead of just converting the classroom experience, we realized we needed to transform the simulation in ways that retained critical learning objectives and the overall feel of the experience while adapting delivery mechanisms and facilitation to address the opportunities and limitations of a virtual platform.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT VIRTUAL DELIVERY PLATFORM
While it was important to consider client preferences, it was equally important to ensure that the platform would allow us to do what was needed to integrate a game or simulation design. For example, we needed to give administrator rights to each learner to be able to control some of the game movements. Without that function, we would run the risk of losing learner involvement and the “fun feel” of a game.
3. BUILD ROBUST SMALL-TEAM ACTIVITIES TO PROMOTE ENGAGEMENT
Lecture can be boring in a virtual setting. So can small-team activities that are not meaningful or engaging enough to hold attention. Our game design forces learners to make joint decisions about how to run the simulated company, come up with the best answers to questions posed by investors, and work together to see how well they accomplished their financial and strategic objectives by the end of each year of play.
4. CAREFULLY CONSIDER TIMING
Our classroom business simulation generally lasts six to seven hours. That would be a long time in a virtual environment. Generally, one and a half to two hour modules are the gold standard for virtual delivery. We redesigned our classroom simulation into two two-hour modules with a focus on retaining its power as a financial and business literacy program.
5. CHOOSE AND TRAIN THE RIGHT FACILITATORS
Facilitators need to bring their best classroom facilitation skills to the virtual environment. Energy, articulation, passion for the subject, comfort with delivery, and patience are needed in abundance. They also need to multitask, have great attention to detail, understand the technology, and steer learners to collaborate at a distance. Facilitators must have the desire, the ability to change some previous approaches, and the willingness to practice.
6. USE A TECHNICAL PRODUCER TO ASSIST FACILITATORS
There are bound to be problems as learners use their personal computers. It is vital to have the right materials show up in each small team’s “room” at the right time. A successful facilitator must focus on the learning experience and their learners. Technical support is a necessity.
7. SUPPLEMENT THE VIRTUAL SESSION WITH WELL-DESIGNED PRE-AND-POSTMATERIALS
Extending the learning beyond the virtual delivery is essential. Pre-session materials need to excite learners excited and provide enough information about the session so that they are ready to learn. Post-session extensions need to include resource materials and a mechanism for applying the learning on the job.
Paradigm Learning’s transformation of Zodiak to a virtual platform has been a challenging but rewarding experience. We now have a virtual business acumen offering that meets client needs during this time of social distancing while also providing a game-based learning experience that engages, energizes, and educates their learners.