Creating IHRDC’s Geophysics VML Program

IHRDC has been offering Virtual Mentored Learning (VML) training programs since 2019 and this year I was asked to develop and teach a comprehensive one devoted to the essentials of Petroleum Geophysics. In this blog I explain how I went about it and how overjoyed I was with the outcome.

VML Programs are ideal applications of “Flipped Learning”, Adult Learning Principles and the 80/20 allocation of work/learning time. Programs typically run about 5-7 weeks and each week the learner completes an e-Learning assignment, then attends a weekly mentor session, and then joins his/her virtual team to complete an assignment for discussion the following week.

Program Design

Designing the Geophysics VML program was an ideal assignment for me because, over the past six years, I have developed sixteen major e-learning courses in Geophysics for IHRDC’s IPIMS e-Learning Library and, before that, taught for Landmark and worked as a geophysicist for Amoco. So, I was anxious to use all of this experience to build a great offering!

I worked with Chris Davin, our former Director of Instructional Programs and a seasoned geophysicist, with many years working for Chevron, with the design. Our first task was to identify the target audience and, after some discussion with our marketing team, agreed that it should be for a broad audience of individuals with some knowledge and background in the geosciences who wished to learn more about Geophysics with a mid-career emphasis.


Program Development

We then turned to the development of the program and used IHRDC competency models for Geophysicists, like those we license to SEG members, for guidance. A detailed list of skills and competencies was paired with the appropriate IPIMS content to achieve a natural, progressive flow of theory and practical development.  A five-week program duration was our goal and so we selected appropriate IPIMS subtopics and subjects, enhanced with professionally created voice-over PowerPoints (VO PPTs) in short learning nuggets to fill any content voids. They were the perfect complement to the learning material we were creating for the entire VML.

To achieve the program learning objectives, we specified the weekly learning requirements to be up to three hours of e-Learning, 75 minutes of mentor presentation and discussion, and about one hour of team discussion on the team assignment. It was titled Petroleum Geophysics Essentials and included the following sessions: Overview of Geophysics; Geophysical Data Acquisition; Seismic Data Processing and Imaging; Seismic Data Interpretation; and Application of Specialized Seismic Techniques.


Program Delivery

Once we had our structure and content developed, we prepared weekly PowerPoint overview presentations to summarize the week’s learning objectives and assignment.  The seventy-five-minute mentor presentations consisted of about fifty slides. The weekly team assignments were based on real-world questions that an exploration or development team may encounter on the topics discussed that week.  I was the mentor for all sessions and was overjoyed with the outcome – from the first session the twenty-two participants were actively involved in discussions, worked well in their team rooms and asked many informed questions that demonstrated that the learning objectives were being realized.


Reviews of Enrollees

Most instructors have an internal “high” when they complete the teaching of a course. Mine was doubly “high” because we had also designed it and saw much of the learning content that we had written being well used. It was even better when I reviewed the many positive comments of attendees. Here are a few samples:

  • It is a fantastic program!
  • The mentored sessions were excellent.
  • I gained an excellent understanding of Geophysics.
  • The weekly assignments were great, really helped in showing the applicability of course content to the industry.


VML Information

If you want to learn Petroleum Geophysics on a virtual basis with modest disruption to your daily work join me in the next offering. To learn more about all IHRDC’s VML offerings email or go to:

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