Virtual study visits

A series of online events with project partners with the aim of collaboration, exchange of knowledge and/or experience, or familiarization with the local context of partner organizations.

Area of application

Virtual study visits are a tool for project preparation and implementation and can be applied in a broad spectrum of areas.

They can have various objectives in the context of international development cooperation, including but not limited to:

  1. Knowledge sharing and capacity building: Virtual study visits can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices between project partners, as well as provide opportunities for capacity building through virtual training and workshops.
  2. Project monitoring and evaluation: Virtual study visits can be used to monitor and evaluate project progress, allowing project partners to assess the implementation of activities and identify areas for improvement.
  3. Engaging with stakeholder: Virtual study visits can provide opportunities for virtual engagement with stakeholders, such as beneficiaries, local communities, and government agencies.
  4. Networking and collaboration: Virtual study visits can facilitate networking and collaboration between project partners and other organizations, leading to increased partnerships and synergies.
  5. Increasing sustainability and scalability: Virtual study visits can support the sustainability and scalability of development projects, as they can be repeated and scaled up to reach more beneficiaries over time.


Target Group

The target group for virtual study visits varies depending on the topic and the project. It is particularly interesting for professionals in education, research and public institutions, who aim to collaborate and exchange knowledge and experiences across geographical distances and/or with twinned organizations.


Number of Input Providers

  • Virtual study visits can involve a variety of input providers, including subject matter experts, research and development specialists, and industry professionals. The number of input providers will vary, depending on the objectives and scope of the virtual study visit. An input provided by one provider should ideally be around 60-90 minutes.
  • Experience shows that shorter events are more likely to attract participants’ interest.



Interaction is a key component of virtual study visits. Effective interaction allows project partners to engage with each other, exchange ideas, and collaborate in real-time, regardless of physical location. This can be achieved through a variety of virtual tools and platforms, such as videoconferencing, webinars, chat rooms, and online forums. Interaction should be well-structured and facilitated for example through moderation to ensure maximum participation and effective communication. It is important to encourage active participation from all project partners and to provide opportunities for group discussions, question and answer sessions, and feedback. By fostering interaction, virtual study visits can help to build strong relationships and foster collaboration between project partners, leading to more successful and impactful development outcomes.

Virtual mode

Compared to physical formats, virtual ones present both challenges and advantages. The success of a virtual study tour lies in the optimal consideration of the advantages of virtual collaboration which are the following:

  • Replicating the experience of physical visits and site inspections through the use of online platforms and communication tools to replicate the experience.
  • Allowing participants to interact and engage in real-time discussions, observe simulations, and review virtual material, such as videos and images.

An overview of the advantages and challenges of a virtual study tour is listed in the Guide to Implementing Virtual Study Visits.


A virtual study tour includes the most important elements of a physical study tour in digital form and may have useful additions. The core elements of any study tour are the following:

  • 1. Learning (e.g. about processes, case studies)
  • 2. Exchange / Interaction (between project partners about experiences gained, networking)
  • 3. Familiarization with the local context (cultural exchange, promotion of better understanding between project partners)



Division of Tasks

  • The methods used for the virtual meetings should align with the objectives of the virtual study visit, and facilitate interaction and engagement among the participants.
  • Virtual study visits require a clear division of tasks among all parties involved: the project team, participants, facilitators, and technical support team.
  • Facilitators and the project teams are responsible for organizing, moderating, and guiding the virtual visit, ensuring that the objectives are met, and fostering interaction and engagement among the participants.
  • Participants are responsible for actively engaging in the virtual visit, sharing their knowledge and experiences, and participating in online discussions and presentations.
  • A technical support team provides technical assistance, such as troubleshooting technical issues, and ensures the smooth operation of the virtual platform and tools.


Virtual study visits should have clear objectives and an agreed-upon agenda.

Ensure that all participants have the necessary technical equipment and stable internet connectivity.

Participants should receive clear instructions on how to use the virtual platform and tools.

Active participation from all attendees should be encouraged, using methods such as breakout rooms, group work, and online polls.

Plan the virtual study visit well in advance, and agree on the objectives and agenda with all parties involved.

Test the virtual platform and tools before the visit to avoid technical issues during the event.


When it comes to budget and questions concerning time needed and resources needed for, the resources needed for both types of visits, e.g. physical or virtual, may be similar, especially if professional video material is to developed for the virtual study visit. However, for virtual visits, more people may be able to participate, and the material may be reused in a different context, making it overall more efficient.




Virtual study visits should allow sufficient time for preparation, planning, and implementation, as well as for reflection and follow-up activities.



Virtual study visits can be more cost-effective than physical visits, as they eliminate the need for travel and accommodation expenses. However, there may be costs associated with the virtual platform and tools used, and technical support.




Virtual study visits can make use of a variety of online platforms and communication tools, e.g. video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, or WebEx, and collaboration tools like Conceptboard, Miro, and TedMe. IT-based planning tools are easily accessible on the internet, e.g. for Gantt charts and for developing project plans; a simple Excel or Word file can also be used.

Note: If you are using Stackfield in your project, a dedicated room with timeline can be created for planning the study visit. The technical requirements for virtual study visits vary, depending on the platform and tools used, but generally, a stable internet connection, a webcam, an audio system, and a microphone are the minimum requirements.



The number of involved preparation staff should be limited to allow for swift work and coordination.

  • PTB project coordinator
    (should initiate the process)
  • PTB project assistant
  • Experts engaged in the project
  • Facilitators/coordinators from the partner´s side


Katharina Telfser

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