Virtual Action Learning

Virtual Action Learning (VAL) is Action Learning which takes place in a virtual/audio environment, rather than face to face. In the context of the eHealth Leadership programme the working VAL environment was on the telephone throughout five cohorts. In the first cohort the facilitators did not meet the participants prior to the first VAL. In subsequent cohorts following feedback from participants who said they would prefer to meet the two facilitators face to face we joined them at their programme introductory day.

During the day we undertook a short presentation to introduce Action Learning as a concept as some participants had not heard of or participated in AL. VAL was included in the presentation and there was an opportunity for questions and discussion following this in individual sets. Supplementary information was also placed upon the programme community of learning including a virtual presentation video.

First set ground rules

The intention was to introduce an additional support methodology and pilot the use of VAL using the telephone. I was excited about the opportunity despite some scepticism from fellow facilitators. The participants were also open to the opportunity despite some anxiety as some of them had never engaged in face-to-face action learning before, let alone VAL.

In the wider Scottish healthcare context I saw possibilities in the use of VAL to provide a cost effective learning and communication channel for participants who worked across the wide expanse of Scotland and for whom travel from the workplace to meet cost time and money.

So how did we do?

What was the actual experience like? Feedback from participants was mixed: Those who had experienced face-to-face action learning before commented on the difference and challenge presented when you cant see your colleagues; they appreciated the opportunity to practice critical questioning; Those new to action learning would have liked more sets to practice the action learning process; all participants agreed that it would save time in engaging in VAL rather than face to face action learning.

As facilitator there were several challenges: getting everybody engaged given the range of experience in the group as well as establishing and maintaining the critical challenge/support balance in the group, so essential to participants getting the maximum learning in and outwith the set.

Where does this leave me?

I am sold on VAL and looking for every opportunity to take part in a set as well as encouraging others to do so. I still love face-to-face action learning and variety is the spice of life, at least it is where action learning and I am concerned.

Interested to speak more about VAL then send me a message and we can set up a call.