Photo by: AndreyPopov via Canva
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. Bottom line—a producer wears many hats!
In the virtual classroom, a producer still wears many hats but has an entirely different meaning. In fact, there are two types of producer roles in the virtual classroom. A technical producer fulfills a support role, behind the scenes, allowing the facilitator to focus on the delivery of the content and the needs of the learners. In this role, the producer acts as an “extra pair of hands” during the session. An instructional producer handles all the responsibilities of a technical producer and is also responsible for co-facilitating the session.
Whether you’re in a technical or instructional role, let’s take a look at the top five tasks of a virtual classroom producer:
1. Conduct a pre-event warm up. While participants are logging on, the producer can greet them by name, engage in small talk, verify the technology is working, answer questions, and facilitate warm-up exercises. When the facilitator starts speaking, participants know class has begun.
2. Troubleshoot technology issues. A virtual classroom facilitator who tries to fix technical problems can lose valuable class time. As the producer, it’s your job to manage any technical issues that arise. Brainstorm technology issues you may face (e.g. participant can’t connect to the audio, text tool isn’t working) and determine the steps required to address each scenario. Practice the flow of steps required. Ensure you are comfortable communicating these steps to learners, either verbally or in writing (i.e. in chat or private chat).
3. Launch surveys, polls, and breakout rooms. The producer should ensure all practice exercises are set up and can be easily launched when the facilitator requires them. This minimizes “dead air” and makes the session move quickly and smoothly. The producer can also manage half of the breakout rooms by assisting the participants with the exercise.
4. Respond to messages and manage chats. Most 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 producer can watch for all these signals, answer questions, and alert the facilitator when they need to become involved.
5. Assess learner engagement. A producer can monitor the learners’ engagement levels and alert the facilitator, when necessary. Analyze the speed and quality of learner responses to determine whether the learner is adding thoughtful responses or simply agreeing with others. Track which participants are actively answering questions or are asking to have questions repeated. Also, track the number of poll responses, feedback icons, and use of chat and the whiteboard.
Using this team approach means participants get four eyes watching for feedback and two minds concentrating on the process. What could be better?
If you’re a new virtual classroom producer and would like to get some hands-on practice, check out our Virtual Classroom Producer workshop. It’s filled with tips and techniques to help you excel in your role before, during, and after every virtual classroom session.
What challenges have you encountered when acting as a producer in the virtual classroom?