DVR TIG Week: VirBela (Avatar-based Communication Platform): An Alternative to Zoom-Fatigue by David Fetterman

Hi! I’m David Fetterman, President & CEO, Fetterman and Associates, past-president of AEA, founder of empowerment evaluation, author/editor of 17 books, and the recipient of both the Lazarsfeld and Myrdal Awards.

Tired of meeting on Zoom all day?  Want a bit more than talking heads to keep your colleagues, students, and clients engaged?  Try an avatar-based format.  VirBela allows you to communicate with people in a more “embodied” and collaborative manner.  

You create your own avatar. In my case, I pick white or gray hair, glasses, a polo shirt, and jeans.  Linda, my evaluation colleague, selects a purple outfit, dark hair, and sneakers.  We meet in virtual classrooms and present our PowerPoint slides to prepare for an empowerment evaluation exercise.  Later we sit by the beach in a private area to discuss the pros and cons of using a survey or focus group for our next task.

Image of VirBela screen with avatars of David and Linda.

Hot Tip:

Navigating from room to room is easy – just select the setting from a menu.  Moving around the campus simply requires the use of directional arrow keys.

Cool Trick:

One of the benefits of this collaborative meeting platform is that it gives you the sense of meeting with people in a shared setting at a conference, classroom, or recreational area.  Just like in a professional association conference, you can “take off” on a boat and talk about both work and family – all from your desktop computer.

Rad Resource:

Give it a try when you want to enhance participation and collaboration, particularly with youth. It is a good way to keep everyone attentive and motivated, while combating Zoom-fatigue. I have a brief tour on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YpdXi8FRaU&t=68s.

For more information about VirBela see: https://www.virbela.com/.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Week with our colleagues in the DVR Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from DVR TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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