Virtual Exchange or Virtual training?

You might wonder how we differentiate between a virtual exchange and a virtual training? The scheme below provides an overview of the different emphases within the methodological principles of each format. 

Methodological principles

Virtual exchange
Virtual training
Designed around
process content
Learning is
implicit explicit
Learner is
leading in process central in design
Method of instruction
facilitated instructed
Interaction between learners
is the core of the learning is supportive to the learning
Emphasis on
Contemporary themes Timeless themes and skills
Interaction is
mostly synchronous synchronous & asynchronous
Connection is made to
people content
Assignments
deepen the learning process check the learning process
Learning outcomes are
flexible to each participant identical for each participant

 

A virtual exchange

A designed interactive process in which the learner is leading. Learners interact synchronously under the guidance of facilitators to engage on contemporary themes. Through the interactive process learners implicitly develop various skills. However, to which extent they develop those skills is flexible and dependent on their own needs and previous experiences. Participant’s curiosity might be triggered and stimulated, their self-esteem can be enhanced, their previously held beliefs and viewpoints may be challenged and their listening skills might improve. The assignments learners engage in are solely designed to deepen the learning process. Submitting assignments is sufficient to pass the course as meta-analysis on learning outcomes for all participants together show us that the overall learning outcomes are being met at a certain level of participation and assignments submission.

 

A virtual training

Is designed around specific content or skills. Learning outcomes are explicit and equal to all participants. Learners are instructed, and engage in the training through readings and video-materials and interact with peers or instructors both synchronous and asynchronous to support their comprehension of the content. Assignments are used to control for this comprehension and can be failed after submission. Trained skills and taught content are timeless and do not necessarily have a link to contemporary issues. 

 

Learning objectives

Typically, through virtual exchanges learners develop what is referred to in literature as soft skills, transversal skills or 21st Century skills. Such skills include curiosity, self-esteem, tolerance to ambiguity, serenity, resilience, critical thinking, listening skills, or cross-cultural competences. Through virtual trainings, participants typically develop more concrete or ‘hard’ skills, like digital competences, foreign language skills or media-literacy. This also clarifies the difference in learning outcome measurement. It is at least unethical but arguably impossible, to fail a participant on a low level of self-esteem or by not being curious enough. It is possible to measure someone’s ability to use online tools, such as Google sheets or to measure a certain language proficiency or the ability to distinguish between real and fake news. The above is not exclusive, but illustrative to a typical learning outcome for each model. 

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