Communication can be considered as one of the most important parts of human life that has evolved during the history of our existence. Different methods of communication from smoke signal to sign languages to face to face communication have played an important part in our lives. Rapid development in the technology field caused evolution of electronic communication and we started to develop better and faster tools and methods to communicate with each other.
As the result of faster and more effective communication people started to learn about different cultures and regions. Actions or deliverables which took our ancestors weeks if not months to achieve were made possible in hours. It will be fair to argue that these changes were the main factors of globalisation, and as a consequence we started to live in a new world also known as the global village.
Globalisation allowed organisations and companies to spread their wings across different countries and continents. Both profit and non-profit making organisations started to grab their fair share in the global village and fast and effective communication gave the edge to these organisations.
In order to make and execute business plans, organisations held face to face meetings between the relevant people within the organisation. This included meetings between people working in different geographical regions and in order to conduct these meetings organisations needed to afford expenses for travelling, eating and accommodation so that significant people can meet at one geographical location.
However with organisations trying to cut their overhead expenses and trying to survive through current recession, traditional methods of conducting meetings did not compete with the current business pattern mainly due to inflexibility and high expenditure.
To overcome these issues organisations started to have virtual sessions which allowed them to conduct the meeting and training between relevant people without having to travel the distance. Virtual sessions allowed organisations to carryout frequent and flexible meetings and training with significantly reduced cost. 'Virtual training is an educational mode that distributes educational topics and materials to a wide audience who gain access to training without having to present themselves physically at training centres and classrooms. It consists essentially in communication via internet and frequent use of email. It therefore requires development of substantive course material as well as technical support.' (Malik and Ochaita, 2002:49).
Virtual session is not only cost effective but gives organisations flexibility to conduct meeting and training in a synchronised manner between different locations, thus saving time and money.
Moving from face to face meetings to virtual meetings does come with issues, one of which is that the use of modern tools and technology to conduct virtual sessions requires more skills to operate them.
The main issue however is that the level of interaction and freedom to participate changes as we move from face to face sessions to virtual sessions. In a face to face interaction verbal / non-verbal communication as well as emotional behaviour is involved, while in the virtual session participating people need to make it more realistic by adding these characteristics. (Yohei Murakami and Yuki Sugimoto and Toru Ishida, 2005). This raises the question of the effectiveness of these virtual sessions. The aim of this research report is to find how human interaction during virtual sessions can be improved so that overall effectiveness can be enhanced.
During the BSc course at Royal Holloway, the team conducted a virtual training project which triggered the interest in this aspect of technology. Project requirement was to conduct a research to find the potential virtual training market. Based on the research the...