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Wrestling Virtual Learning Technology Trauma to the Mat

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
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When I first began to deliver webinars and web workshops, I was in search of the holy grail: that mystical web platform that never crashed, never experienced odd technical hiccups, could be relied on to work 100 percent of the time, had servers that never went down, never scheduled software updates at inconvenient times, and saved us from silly human errors when we pushed the wrong button. 

In that quest, we tried and discarded numerous web platforms and got discouraged whenever we ran into a new technical glitch. Finally, it dawned on me that we were wasting our time on this quest. There is no perfect technology platform. That realization has freed us to successfully deliver great web training events no matter what happens with the technology! 

We categorize the causes of technology trauma into three areas: human error, software failure, and lack of contingency plans. 

Human Error 

Once we were using web conference software that automatically ended the web session when the Host left the event. Unfortunately, the software didn't allow you to restart an event once it was ended. Our host accidentally closed the web browser and the session ended instantly with the trainer in mid-sentence. Fortunately, after making that mistake, the host had the presence of mind to quickly create a new meeting link and resend it to all participants. Three minutes later, they continued the training workshop in a new web session. 

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Software Failure  

We delivered a webinar once in which the telephone bridge that was to have been used by the speaker in an integrated VOIP session magically disappeared from the web event settings on the day of the event. The host rapidly identified a new telephone bridge, added the phone information to the meeting room, and the whole event became a teleconference instead of a VOIP session. He pulled off that solution in the last few minutes before the session launched with hundreds of participants. 

No Contingency Plans  

In the instance of both human error and software failure, it is possible to recover, as long as you've identified contingency plans. Not taking time to consider the possibility of human error and software failure can result in failed web training experiences. Take time to think about the unthinkable: the Internet slowing down, the web server crashing, the telephone bridge disconnecting everyone, the web training session closing prematurely, the speaker's computer locking up or a dead telephone headset (just to name a few unthinkable problems). Decide what you can do to avoid these problems and, if the unthinkable occurs, what you will do to mitigate these problems. 

Want to Learn More? 

Join me in Long Beach, California for my session “Captivate and Accelerate: Ensuring Results in the Virtual Classroom” during the ATD Core 4 Conference, March 23-24, 2017. You will learn how to integrate engagement tools to create a compelling virtual learning experience.

Editor’s Note: This post is excerpted from Bring Your Mojo to Virtual Learning. You can download this free ebook from NetSpeed Learning Solutions here.

About the Author
Cynthia Clay is the president and CEO of NetSpeed Learning Solutions, the author of Great Webinars: Create Interactive Learning That is Captivating, Informative, and Fun (Wiley), and the co-author of Peer Power: Transforming Workplace Relationships (Wiley). She is passionate about applying innovative, blended learning methods to the design and delivery of high-impact, virtual instructor-led training and virtual meetings. Prior to starting NetSpeed Learning Solutions, Cynthia spent eight years at Bank of America in a variety of human resource roles and, for three years, managed the training department at Seattle Children's Hospital. She founded NetSpeed Learning Solutions in 1992. Under her leadership, the company now works with clients who are making the transition from the face-to-face to the virtual meeting and learning environment. Clients include Genentech/Roche, NovoNordisk, BP/ARCO, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Novartis, ConocoPhillips, Choice Hotels, and Penn National Gaming.
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