5 Ways to Maximize The Virtual Classroom Instructional Partnership

Posted by Jennifer Hofmann on Jan 10, 2017 11:30:00 AM
Jennifer Hofmann

Access InSync's complete 2017 “50  Modern Blended Learning Blogs" series here.  Subscribe for daily updates.Virtual Classroom Producer PartnerSuccess in the modern virtual classroom is not dependent on the technology, rather, success is dependent on the strength of the relationships between all members of the instructional partnership.

There are many individuals contributing to the success of virtual sessions: facilitators, learners, subject matter experts, instructional designers, just to name a few. 

But when it comes time to go live in the virtual classroom, the partnership between the Facilitator and the Instructional Producer is responsible for the long-term success of the event.

Who is the Instructional Producer?

I've written extensively in the past about the role of a Technical Producer in the virtual classroom.  But this role is evolving as well. Instead of the Producer taking a behind-the-scenes role, we should be taking advantage of the talents already on our teams and increasing the value of this critical human resource.

The Instructional Producer is truly a partner to the Facilitator. In addition to supporting the virtual classroom technology and managing logistics, the Instructional Producer is also the learner advocate, a co-instructor, and has responsibility not just for the quality of the production, but the quality of the instruction. 

The Role of the Instructional Producer

So how does the Instructional Producer help to transform virtual classroom programs into trouble-free, fast moving, interactive experiences? By providing the following:

  • Opportunities to maximize engagement with learners
  • A different voice to debrief exercises and make content more interesting
  • Advocacy for the learners when they need assistance or when the Facilitator is engaging them successfully.

In short, the Instructional Producer creates a trouble-free, fast moving environment where students are able to learn. For example, by being flexible, the Producer can add value to the class by creating in the moment whiteboards or breakout rooms via the Facilitator’s prompting to meet the needs of the class.

Maximize the Relationship

For most instructional teams, this strong partnership between the Facilitator and Instructional Producer is new. Like any working relationship, effort needs to be put into planning, organization, and developing a common language.

Here are some ways to maximize the relationship between the virtual Facilitator and Instructional Producer:

  1. Treat the Producer as an equal part of the instructional experience. In other words, encourage ownership. Take the time to build a relationship with the Producer. Develop your ideas collaboratively and consult each other on techniques, resources and ideas you can use to shape the session.

  2. Trust the Producer and the expertise they bring to class. Build opportunities into the design of the session so each of you can showcase your own expertise. In some cases, you might have areas of expertise that are in common with each other, but it’s the areas that you don’t share common ground where each instructor can bring in their own expertise, allowing each of you to shine during the session. For example, use the Instructional Producer to manage the entire breakout experience, both from a technical and instructional perspective. And when the Producer says “Stop, we need to {address a problem, respond to chat, take a break}," the Facilitator needs to trust that recommendation.

  3. Treat the Instructional Producer as a Partner/Co-Facilitator. Virtual Instructional Producers act as the technological expert on the virtual platform as well as acting, at least sometimes, as a co-Facilitator. These professionals are also familiar enough with the course content to be able to offer comments on content topics. You can work together to construct a great learning experience, facilitate the team and then coordinate how the learning experience is delivered during the session.

  4. Give the Instructional Producer the opportunity to warm up the audience. This is a great opportunity for the Producer to take center stage and lead the group and prepare them for what is coming next. They’re not participating in a “warm up”, instead they are part of a much bigger learning experience that is rich with different areas of expertise, techniques and ideas.

  5. Debrief the experience. After the live event, share notes about what went well and what needs to be changed. Make sure you document lessons learned for different Facilitator/Producer pairs who may tackle your class in the future. And evaluate every lesson. Look for lessons learned. Adjust where necessary. Implement changes.

You need to create an environment of trust. The Facilitator/Producer relationship should represent a true partnership. Start to establish the partnership early so you aren’t starting from scratch with the added stress of learner needs immediately looming.

Related resources:

Book: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway To Leadership. “Instructional Partnerships” provides readers with background knowledge, research-based evidence and examples of instructional partnerships in action. Serving in this role positions school librarians as key faculty in improving student learning outcomes through building collaborative partnerships for instructions.  

Blog: What Makes a Great Virtual Classroom Producer? Advice from an Expert.  Helen Fong tells us just what it means to move from "good" to "great" as a Producer when supporting virtual classroom events.

If you know someone who would be great at this new role, suggest they participate in our Master Virtual Producer (MVP) Certificate course. For more information, just click on the graphic below.

Master Virtual Producer (MVP) Certificate

Topics: Virtual Classroom, Producer, 50 Modern Blended Learning Blogs