One word to lose

Today, we drove to London and back to visit a member of my wife’s family. I was actually kind of looking forward to go into an OnRoute and see people actually sitting at tables. For the past while, if you travel the 401 and are in need of their services and a coffee, it has been a pretty desolate place. But, that isn’t happening yet.

Even at that, though, it was still real. Real coffee; real washrooms; real salads; real gasoline; real soft drinks, real well, you get the picture.

It was real. Modifications may have been made to meet health and legal requirements but what was delivered was real and a great deal of effort had gone into making it so.

In other sectors, the changes that have been made have forced a new approach to delivering the services or, in the case of professional learning, the experience. To describe the reality, people have been quick to embrace the term “virtual”. That’s always bothered me. It’s a cutesy approach to try and get across the message that you’re cool and rolling with the punches and yet you’re knowingly putting out an inferior experience.

To me, the label “virtual” denotes something that isn’t the same quality as “real”. In my mind, that diminishes the actual experience. “Virtual school” or “Virtual learning” leads as an apologetic approach to what will happen.

Over the past while, I’ve attended many session via remote and given a couple of talks. There are some real advantages – they tend to start and finish on time; they have an active and engaged moderator; they allow you to ask questions in a chat window as they come to your mind instead of waiting until the end and the dreaded “Are there any questions?” Unfortunately, going out for a meal or supper with friends goes missing.

For those who have taught or lead sessions, you know that you haven’t stepped back from your preparation and your efforts to make things the best that they can be. In fact, you’ve probably gone overboard and put extra effort into doing the best that you can. When you’re now saddled with the tag “Virtual”, those brandishing the tag are setting the stage for a sub-par experience.

I’m glad that we’re slowly returning to what will become our new reality. In the meantime, there may be a situation where we’re not quite back there yet and some people will be dialing it in. Let’s call it what it is. “Remote”. Let’s put “Virtual” back where it belong in technology with “Virtual Reality”. Let’s not use it to play down the efforts of good people trying to do their best.

Say “NO” to Virtual. Say “YES” to your professionalism in adapting to the current reality.

OTR Links 10/27/2021

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.