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Improving Training During Course Conversion to Virtual


by Sofia Santiago, PhD

A Gamified Epic Journey


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What is R2V?

The brand R2V (Resident to Virtual), refers to a group of tailor-made solutions (comprised of instructional design, training, coaching and mentoring) that Pathways Business Seminars “ADDIE’d” (Analyzed, Designed, Developed, Implemented and Evaluated) for the U.S. Army Medical Department Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) in Fort Sam Houston:

  • R2V for Champions (for senior leadership)

  • R2V for Leaders (for middle managers)

  • R2V for Instructional Designers

  • R2V Train the Trainer


R2V vividly demonstrates Pathways' superior qualifications to deliver instructional services.



An Example Case Study

This overview of the story of how R2V originated (our contribution) and the impact R2V has had on MEDCoE’s military and civilian leaders and staff is relevant for you to envision the potential of working with us, and the extraordinary quality of products we can create for your organization.

R2V has received rave reviews and passed with flying colors every quality test posed by MEDCoE’s Learning Technology Division (LTD).

You may or may not know this: LTD has THE highest quality standards.
We do too.

R2V Trailer


April 2020: A Global Pandemic


During the early dark days of COVID, I was recruited by MEDCoE’s Learning Technology Division (LTD). An edict had come down from TRADOC to MEDCoE that most departments (due to social-distancing dictates) needed to IMMEDIATELY convert their resident courses to virtual. There was a hubbub of activity as people tried to figure out what that meant. "I mean just HOW do I DO that?" people were asking. 

The leadership of LTD was aware that MEDCoE’s faculty and staff couldn't convert their resident training to virtual, because they had no idea how to do it. The accepted belief about virtual instruction was that you did it by filming a resident lecture and dragging it along with a lot of slides into the virtual environment. “The only difference between resident and virtual,” said many internal “Train the Trainer” instructors to their eager-for-a-solution peers, “is the environment: resident or virtual. The rest is exactly the same.” Film it, post it, and then bamm, you’re done.

Uh. . . But no.


Learning Was Suffering

Instructors were scared of technology. Not only scared—terrified. They had been sent to war without weaponry. “Next week you’ll do a virtual class,” said their supervisor. And that pronouncement seemed like a death sentence that kept many from sleeping at night. They told me so. The most daring ones ventured to explore the unchartered path on their own, without even a compass; “I was so stressed, I spent the whole weekend before my course googling how to do it,” MAJ Zelaya, an officer I coached said.

Instructors HATED virtual instruction. Imagine how you would feel, talking for hours to a computer, reading slides without human interaction, not knowing if your students were even listening . .  feeling that they just didn’t care, trying desperately to engage them by periodically pausing the lecture to ask “Any questions?” All that just so you can hear a voice and get even some minimal validation that what you do matters. Silence. No questions. Wouldn’t you too rush to stop the pain ASAP? So, that’s what instructors did: they read their slides, and talked and talked to avoid suffering the painful silence that bore down when none of the students, with their cameras turned off, asked any questions or contributed to learning.

Students were bored. They were disengaged. They were unmotivated. They were frustrated.

Even worse—they were not learning.

You may have been there yourself.

Now, I don’t mean to undervalue other organization’s mission, but for no other of our clients is the impact of students not learning a matter of life or death. For MEDCoE, a combat medic, for instance, not learning can have fatal consequences. That is how big of an issue this was.

Everyone knew students were not learning. And what did they do? Hope that COVID would end soon so things could go back to normal. Not realizing there would soon be a “new normal,” some departments decided they would just ride out the pandemic. They decided on cancelling their training offerings “until further notice,” thereby aggravating the problem of an untrained workforce.

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MEDCoE Needed a Bridge

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During the thorough analysis the Pathways Team conducted, we discovered that one of the reasons why quality virtual instruction had been neglected by MEDCoE for years was that their current training contractors were not opening the current window of instruction needed for MEDCoE.


In our role as providers of instructional services, we know it is part of our responsibility to be the bridge that connects our clients to technological and methodological advances in our industry. Our clients’ leaders and staff, usually buried in work (hence the need for our services) have no time or way to know, from the inside, what other organizations are doing. It’s up to us to help them.

Also, when a contractor does not provide training (or the right training) or certifications, or attendance to industry conferences (we do!) to their subcontractors (most contractors don't), their instructional designers and multimedia experts tend to get stuck in the past. We’ve seen it time and time again: people who work day-in and day-out with clients, applying the same systems they learned in school 20 years ago, well—their clients remain in a silo . . . in an echo chamber that perpetuates outdated practices and wrong beliefs driven by fear of the unknown. 

So “everyone” (many employees and all contractors) at MEDCoE passively waited for COVID to be over, creating and spreading myths to justify their lack of action: “Virtual will never work,” “virtual is temporary,” “TRADOC does not allow us to do that,” and so on. Everyone eagerly wanted to stay in their comfort zone.


But not everyone—not MEDCoE’s Learning Technology Division (LTD) leaders.


Everyone Stayed Stagnant. Except LTD.

Where most see a crisis, a few see opportunities, and MEDCoE’s Learning Technology Division (LTD) visionary leaders jumped in to the rescue. They knew something needed to be done and fast. They determined to create truly innovative training that would not only give instructors, instructional designers, and training managers the knowledge of virtual best practices but also the skill and practice with coaching, giving and receiving feedback, and leading conversion teams so they could conquer their fears and gain the confidence they needed to make virtual training effective.

They also knew this was a perfect opportunity to upgrade and update MEDCoE’s instructional practices.


Just like when you move to a new house you can take the opportunity to get rid of useless piles of junk you have been hoarding for years and to replace old gadgets with newer and more efficient ones, LTD knew the initiative of converting resident to virtual instruction should be much more: an opportunity to clean their house, debunk myths, give developers and instructors pride and ownership, convert them from order takers into problem solvers, motivate them by giving them tools that would make them ENJOY rather than DREAD virtual instructions, INSPIRE them to rescue learning, and, above all, to instill a culture of instructional quality in MEDCoE.

That was the goal.


Not a small feat, as you can see.


Because this training was urgently required, and my company, Pathways, had successfully developed and delivered tailor-made courses for MEDCoE on multiple occassions, LTD reached out to me.

Pathways hit the deck running and presented a comprehensive solution that would address the challenges MEDCoE faced with rapid conversion to virtual instruction. We named this solution R2V, which stands for “Resident to Virtual.”

From the beginning, we saw R2V not as a course or a solution, but as a movement. R2V would not only address the functional side but also the human side of the change MEDCoE was due for. R2V would not tell instructors what to do—it would role model the behaviors MEDCoE wanted to see.



The Guardians Are Born and the Path is Chartered

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R2V would inspire an epic calling in MEDCoE faculty and staff, allowing them to see how they were part of something bigger than themselves. R2V would motivate bored and uninspired employees into an elite force of superheroes: the Guardians.

The Guardians would guard the keys to the knowledge and skills that would allow everyone at MEDCoE to undertake the journey from “Statusquoland” to the “Virtual World.”

The journey would not be an easy one, but one consistent with the character of MEDCoE as a Center of Excellence.


The SQL Cartel:
The Villains of Instruction

To ensure everyone would arrive at their destination safely, the Guardians would need to recognize the evil villains that had plagued MEDCoE/Statusquoland: the SQL Cartel.


Through the R2V Journey of training and coaching, the Guardians would develop the superpowers (KSAO: Knowledge, Skills, Attitude, and Other factors) they needed to battle and defeat the infamous “thugs” that were attacking students, instructors, and instructional designers alike with impunity.

These were the villains that we identified (and named) during the recon phase of our mission.

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September 2020:
R2V’s First Cohort of Guardians Start Their Journey

Working at full speed in collaboration with LTD, we were able to develop a cutting-edge solution in record time.


To my team’s credit, they were able to implement instructional methodologies, project management methodologies, design thinking, knowledge management and change management cutting-edge principles and come up with a revolutionary product in less than six months.

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And MEDCoE Starts Battling the Villains of Instruction!

As a comprehensive training-and-coaching solution that addresses the functional and human sides of learning as well as meaningful cultural change, the R2V movement quickly made a tremendously positive impact on MEDCoE and succeeded in increasing the motivation, confidence, and caliber of the instructional designers, instructors, and program managers, placing them on the leading edge of INSTRUCTION.

The end result? Fully engaged students, increased learning and retention, and an Army workforce better prepared to tackle today’s challenges in the field.

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The Present and Future

It’s been several years now that R2V has been taught at MEDCoE, and testimonials, evaluations and graduate surveys demonstrate that it has been a resounding success.

R2V has grown and adapted to changing requirements as TRADOC has begun to explore ever-widening applications of virtual instruction to address challenges such as: 

  1. Standing organizationally ready for any future delivery crisis

  2. Reducing costs to overcome anticipated budgetary constraints

  3. Integrating learning technology into the very fabric of the Army enterprise training system


Considering that this level of success can be achieved, one can only wonder, why would any organization settle for less?


I hope yours doesn’t.

Let Us Be Your Battle Buddies

The battle against the villains who kill learning (during face-to-face and virtual instruction) that we've been fighting for many, many years is not over. Now, wiser and stronger, Pathways is ready to collaborate with you to fulfill your training needs, so together we can defeat the infamous SQL Cartel once and for all.

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R2V Video Gallery


R2V Trailer

Invitation for Presentation to Top Leaders

(With Pathways' Spokesman, Luis)

BEFORE R2V: Virtual Instruction by DEFAULT

AFTER R2V: Virtual Instruction by DESIGN

(Same class, same instructor)

R2V Welcome Video

R2V Graduation Video

Students Testimonials

Students Talk to Their Leaders


Reach Out

We'd love to share with you the spectacular results of R2V in a private presentation.

Start by contacting us, and let's do this!

Great! We'll contact you shortly!

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