Virtual Learning Show 2013 – interview with Bianca Woods

Bianca Woods is an instructional designer and is on the panel for the second day of the Virtual Learning Show. I asked for some of her virtual thoughts…

Bianca lives in Toronto, Canada and the VLS is hosted on UK time. “Ah, the joys of attending a virtual seminar located in a much different time zone!” comments Bianca. “Thanks to the time difference, and work, I was only able to catch the full sessions from the last two speakers. Thankfully they were both quite useful for me.”

What did Bianca pick up from them? “While I’ve done a wide variety of instructional design work, one of the few areas I haven’t had much experience with is designing for virtual classrooms. The last two sessions of day one were perfect for helping me better understand this type of training. Karen Hyder’s in-depth session comparing three of the main virtual classroom tools helped me gain a deeper insight of how exactly they work and the ways you can push the technology to make the experience better for learners. I especially enjoyed her insights on the strengths and weaknesses of each tool. This information made it even easier for me to get a lot out of the final session of the day: Cindy Hugget’s talk on techniques for designing an interactive virtual classroom. Cindy did an amazing job of not just talking about what we can do to design better VCs, but also leading by example in her own session.”

I asked Bianca if there is anything in particular she is looking forward to on the second day“Once again, the time difference is a factor, but I’m fully intending to make it early enough to at least catch Julie Dirksen’s session on using game design to create approach-based learning. I’m hoping to be able to get some examples of this practice that go beyond the simple buzz words of “gamification” and “serious games” and actually show real examples of how it can be used for meaningful training.”

One of the other elements of the second day Bianca is also looking forward to is the panel discussion. “Is it wrong to geek out about your own session? I hope not, because I’m extremely excited about this panel.” She adds, “most sessions at conferences involve simply listening to a single viewpoint. This session is so much broader than that.”

The panel discussion subject is “how can emerging technology enrich our offerings and add value to our business?” and Bianca explains “we’ve got an international group of panellists. Seriously, we’re spread out across THREE continents! We will be talking about emerging technology and how we can use it in training.”

Attendees can ask the panel questions before the events has started; “The way the panel questions have been created is also exciting: several weeks ago a Google Drive spreadsheet was created where absolutely anyone could add a question for the panel to answer. I love how this opens up the discussion to what the community actually wants to hear the panel talk about. It helps shape the session into exactly what the audience is looking for it to be.”

So some people will have contributed questions before hand, what about what they might get out of the discussion afterwards? “I’m hoping that people leave the session feeling that they’ve gotten more insight into the technology questions that they personally had. I’d also love for the audience to feel like they’re now armed with the knowledge to keep exploring this topic. With only an hour to talk, I know we’re not going to be able to fully solve or answer each question in detail. I am hoping, though, that we’ll be able to give people a solid foundation on each topic so they can go out and explore more on their own.”

From Bianca’s tweets and blog it’s easy to pick up how excited she gets about technology. She passionately adds, “I’m an unabashed learning technology geek. I just love finding out about new technology that we can use to make learning more practical and sticky for the people using our training. One of my tasks at work is, I kid you not, to basically poke at new technology with a stick and figure out where it might fit, if anywhere, in the work we do. I could easily spend all day, every day, doing this.”

Bianca adds a small warning; “that said, I’m quite passionate about not using technology for technology’s sake. One of the biggest problems we’re facing in our industry right now is people who think we can throw the newest, shiniest tech at a training problem and that will magically solve everything.”

Finishing up by focusing on the VLS panel session, Bianca says, “I think panels like this one are our best way to overcome the issue of throwing new technology at training. The people involved in training, from instructional designers to managers to subject matter experts, all need to have a basic understanding of the pros and cons of the tech we use, and conversations like this session are perfect for finding this information out.”

It will be a joy to experience Bianca’s excitement – if you would like to involve yourself in the conversation by attending the second day of the Virtual Learning Show, a free online conference for L&D professionals, you can visit the Virtual Learning Show website.

Bianca adds one last exciting point, “here’s how fantastic I think this conference is: I’m attending it while I’m on vacation! If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.”

One thought on “Virtual Learning Show 2013 – interview with Bianca Woods

  1. It’s nice you made this interview I discover retrospectively after above mentioned panel happened this afternoon. I think it was a good experience in a virtual environment and with plenty of interesting contributions. Bianca made some good points on badges but I was not fast enough to write it down, waiting for recordings…

Leave a Reply