Viral Lesson on Virtues of Being Virtual

Ram Ramanathan  •  Mar 16, 2020  •  10 min read

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Viral Lesson on Virtues of Being Virtual

We learned a few important lessons when we rescheduled a physical Coacharya workshop event to a virtual one recently. We wanted to be virtuous in the global context in dealing with the as yet untamed, incurable virus. The responses were interesting.

A few declined our offer, not serious enough to postpone. The first lesson was that people, at least coaches who are our community, seem to be environmentally conscious and receptive to change.

Some inquired whether we would reduce fees. We were happy to waive all costs related to the venue and travel. The second lesson was that our audience, as we expect them to be, are cost-conscious and we needed to fulfill and exceed expectations; so far so good.

Some said that they wanted a touchy-feely classroom experience in learning, which the virtual programs don’t offer yet. We gladly released them with a refund.

What lessons do we learn from this minority of educated professionals who seek a classroom learning experience equating that with learning effectiveness? Do they expect pedagogy or andragogy?

Perhaps I am being harsh, but I see them as dinosaurs in the 21st century, ones that may disappear since they do not adapt.

Even without the pandemic, the world is moving virtual for multiple reasons, such as decreasing carbon footprint, greater flexibility, and more effective use of time, space, resources and money. The move to virtual is already reducing congestion in inner cities, and stilling the mind and body. It’s chilling when we realize we needed a pandemic to achieve what should be our nature.

It is not that people will not travel anymore, drive cars or stay in hotels – it’s just that they would be far more aware of the indirect costs and penalties associated with these. Frequent fliers and frequent stay schemes that appeal to the greedy may become less attractive (besides the fact that your chosen dates are always red) and socially less acceptable.

Reverting to learning, the mindset of those whose belief system is that virtual learning is less effective needs to be better understood despite the following facts.

  • Learning studies have established that short sessions over a longer period are far more effective than week-long or even weekend-long programs since they allow action learning, which is how learning gets anchored into new habits.
  • Visual and auditory needs, multiple intelligence needs, as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal interactive needs in learning are fulfilled very effectively in today’s virtual technology, possibly better than the distracting physical spaces. I can speak to this first hand since Coacharya has trained hundreds of coaches globally via 4-10 month virtual programs. This includes all our Master coaches, all of whom completed their training virtually.
  • We are not looking at social nearness, hugging needs of some, or the desirability of smell (ugh) and taste in a physical environment. We are looking at learning needs. For these other needs, and those of adventure one should engage in the risks of travel. 

What then makes people yearn for the classroom that one experienced in childhood? As a coach I am curious. Is it insecurity? Invalidation? Lack of self-esteem? 

For corporate entities, the writing is on the wall. They can no longer be environmentally insensitive. If they do not transform their nonessential physical nearness activities to virtual activities, they will be forced through socioeconomic factors. 

For individuals, this may still seem a choice that isn’t. Learn to learn virtually, or you will be left behind.

Note from the editor

Coacharya offers a number of virtual learning resources. Here are a few:

Ram Ramanathan

Ram

Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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