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Tasks of the Virtual Classroom Producer

Posted by Melissa Grey Satterfield on 11/25/13 3:00 AM
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I live in Los Angeles, where the term “producer” is used often and usually has something to do with film or TV. According to “howstuffworks.com,” the responsibility of a movie producer is to make sure an appealing, high-quality movie is produced on time and within budget. The producer supervises and packages the project from conception to distribution—the bottom line: a producer wears many hats!

In the training world, specifically, in the virtual classroom (VC), the term “producer” means something very different. You might even hear “producer” referred to as the “assistant instructor” or “assistant trainer.”

The VC producer’s role is to act as an extra pair of hands during the virtual classroom training session. This allows the facilitator to focus on the delivery of training. Believe it or not, the VC producer doesn’t even need to be in the same physical location as the VC facilitator! Let’s take a look at some of the typical tasks of the VC producer:

Conduct a pre-event warm up. While participants are logging on, the producer can verify that the technology is working (audio levels, etc.), answer navigation questions, and facilitate warm-up exercises. When the VC facilitator starts speaking or typing, participants know class has begun.

Handle technical questions and problems. A virtual classroom facilitator who tries to fix technical problems can lose valuable class time. Give participants the producer’s phone number so s/he can manage any technical support issues that arises. The producer can assess whether the participant can return to class or whether another level of technical support is required.

Launch surveys, polls, and breakout rooms. The VC producer should ensure all practice exercises are setup, and can be easily launched when the VC facilitator requires them. This minimizes dead air and ensures the session moves seamlessly. The VC producer can also manage breakout rooms and assist participants with exercises.

Respond to messages and manage chats. Unfortunately, many VC facilitators limit the use of the chat and message features because they find it impossible to respond while also facilitating a session. However, crucial interaction can occur in the chat and message areas. The VC producer can watch for all of these signals, answer questions, and alert the VC facilitator when s/he needs to become involved.

Using this team approach means that participants get four eyes watching for feedback and two minds concentrating on the process. What could be better?

What has been your experience with the role of the producer in the virtual classroom?

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Melissa has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Nevada where she studied broadcast communications. During her college years, Melissa worked as an on-air personality for several radio and TV stations in Las Vegas. She’s always been a bit of a performer, which is probably why training is such a good fit for her. Before coming to Langevin, she was a senior training specialist and course developer for an organization based in L.A. Melissa knows the challenges trainers face, as well as the rewards that come with improving job performance. Her training mantra is summed up best by something she learned during her very first Langevin workshop, “Never do for the learners what the learners can do for themselves.” When not in the classroom, Melissa loves travelling, relaxing at the beach, cooking, and hosting dinner parties.

Topics: virtual trainer, virtual classroom, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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