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March 25, 2020

Cultivating Virtual Learning Relationship

Categories:  Resources

We are pleased to have Amanda Cipriano as our guest writer who will also facilitate Cultivating Virtual Learning Relationship at Zen Friday this week. 

“We are getting more global and more virtual, but just because you have greater access, doesn't mean you have greater success." – Virtual Learning Designer

Creating a feeling of connection and a sense of belonging amongst the team can be done virtually, but most of us will have to break some old habits and try doing some things differently. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Here are some best practices pulled from a case study on virtual learners as well as interviews with virtual facilitators and community builders.

  • Set expectations and structure: Even virtually, as leaders, we cannot skip this step. If you want your meetings to look and feel different now, you have to say so. Decide, better yet, ask your teams how they want virtual meetings to look and feel. Declare the beginning of an evolution and commit to experimenting with different ways of interacting and meeting virtually.

“Helpful structures help groups.”–Beth Page, Adjunct Faculty, Pepperdine University

  • Group care: Design your meeting in a way that allows for each participant to bring their whole self into the ‘room’. Ensure a balance of content and connection. Check-ins can be leveraged during the beginning, end and sporadically within meetings to see how people are doing to take a virtual temperature check. Get creative here – different things will work for different groups.

"I love being able to laugh with my classmates while also feeling incredibly productive."-MSOD student

  • Authentic Facilitation: Give of yourself virtually as you would give of yourself in person. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and admit mistakes. Let your true self shine through so that others can feel connected to you and possibly inspired to share of themselves in the same way.

“Simultaneously use your wit and wisdom."–Virtual Learning Facilitator

These are three controllable factors a leader can leverage in a virtual setting to increase connection amongst the virtual participants. It will take more work and more prep time until you find the rhythm that feels right for your team. What kind of virtual meetings do you want to lead? How do you want participants to feel before, during and after? Are you ready to try something new? Here is a Virtual Connection Planning Sheet template to design for the virtual connection your team craves.

Think it, see it and you can create it!

Amanda Cipriano, MSOD, MBA, PMP
Connect with me on LinkedIn


  • Rozovsky, Julia. "The Five Keys to a Successful Google Team" Re: Work. Google Re: Work, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.
  • Cipriano, Amanda. Isensee, Emily. “Virtual Learning Relationships: Building Block Model.” 2017(Cipriano & Isensee, 2017)
  • Dyer, William. Dyer, Gibb. Dyer, J. “Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance” 4th, Ed. 2007.
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