At the beginning of 2020 when Covid19 hit, our business came to a halt. We found ourselves, like most companies, confronted with the need to urgently pivot our business.
Working with our team of 60-some members and trusted learning partners, we have been learning how to enable training to continue meaningfully via remote delivery instead of face-to-face. We had the privilege to share this in a session at the Adult Learning Symposium 2020 virtual event attended by over 700 Adult Education Professionals.
ROHEI Deputy Chief Executive Praise Mok (left) with Aline Eustaquio-Low, Head of Training, Coaching, and Curriculum Development at ROHEI
Three key ideas shaped and guided our design and delivery of remote learning:
- Physical Distancing ≠ Social Distancing
- Physical Learning ≠ Remote Learning
- Physical Experience ≠ Remote Experience
Physical Distancing ≠ Social Distancing
Not having the chance to be together face-to-face does not mean we can’t stay connected. What it does mean is that we need to do more to reach out.
Here are three things we do to make sure we are truly connecting with our learners.
1. Less Trainer, More Coach
- Remote learning allows for closer interactions. It’s almost like we are having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone in their living room.
- The traditional “trainer persona” with lots of movements and high energy might feel too intense.
- We can be less of a trainer, and more of a coach. When we moderate our energy and keep our voices down, the learner feels more comfortable, and more ready to connect.
2. Authentic Backgrounds
- We can connect with learners by using authentic backgrounds for our video calls. Having personal artifacts or interesting objects behind us opens up opportunities to share our stories.
- It can be a painting of significant meaning, hobbies that we engage in, or an item that illustrates a personal story that is relatable to the learners.
- In a space that is largely virtual, it is refreshing to see something organic.
Examples of authentic backgrounds that reveal more about the trainer: Praise Mok with her father's paintings behind her, Aline Eustaquio-Low with her role-play board games, and Ding Eng Eng with a lotus painting that symbolises blooming in adversity
3. Learning and Relationships
- Learning is also about the people that we get to know, the connections we make, and the networks that we are a part of.
- We learn from reflections of each other as we share our work and life experiences.
- It is important to intentionally make time to connect and build relationships with each other.
Physical Learning ≠ Remote Learning
Learners attending remotely may have other matters competing for their attention. Trainers can create physical spaces that can minimise distractions and encourage interaction and help focus the learner’s attention.
Attention span tends to be shorter on-screen compared to in-person. But not being able to engage face-to-face with content does not mean that learning should be less engaging.
Here are three things we are doing to design the learning format to enable learners to stay engaged with the content:
4. Designing with Empathy
- Be mindful that learners are not just workers; at home, they have other commitments outside of work.
- Slow down and regulate the pace of delivery by presenting less content.
- Give more space or time, such as longer lunch breaks, so people can attend to family matters.
5. Less Talk, More Interaction
- Consider how much can remote learners can stomach (screen time, time spent talking) before they are unable to focus.
- Employ different modes of interaction such as short breaks, personal reflection, activities, group sharing, and quizzes.
- Changing the activity every 15 to 20 minutes creates the switch that is needed to reset and refresh.
6. Engaging the Senses
- Include hands-on and tactile activities.
- Engage the senses with physical props such as physical whiteboard instead of virtual whiteboard/digital poll to engage the learners kinesthetically.
- Provide physical handouts for recording notes so that learner stays engaged with the content especially if they are using mobile devices.
Hands-on and tactile activities help engage the learner's senses and allow the eyes to rest from the screen
Physical Experience ≠ Remote Experience
In an in-person session, It is easier to identify if a learner requires support in-person. A learner can request for assistance easily.
Meeting learners remotely, they may already have issues before we even get to meet them. It is harder to identify who needs help. The remote experience needs to be intentionally crafted to anticipate where issues may occur for the learner.
Recognising how the physical experience and remote experience are different helps us to see where remote learning can be augmented to support and minimise disruption to communication, collaboration and learning.
7. Learning Support
- It is critical to provide learning support. This persona helps to host and welcome learners. It supports learners not only in their tech issues, but also to reinforce the learning that is happening.
- Plan for contingencies for internet connection issues. For example, having mobile SIM based routers off-site on standby, or checking learners’ bandwidth capacity.
8. Learning Parcel
- Send physical parcels to learners before they attend the programme.
- This helps to prepare them for the learning environment to better engage online.
- Some things that can be included: Manual, Whiteboard—a tactile, non-digital interactive solution, Props to involve the learners in a hands-on experience, and snacks.
The learning parcel that we send to participants prior to the workshop
9. Understanding Digital Needs
- Understand what kind of device the learner has access to and adjust to the lowest common denominator.
- Communicate baseline technical requirements beforehand and enlist the help of client HR if possible.
- For mobile users, the screen layout is different. As the screen is smaller, bigger type sizes are required. Direct users to stay on one screen as toggling between apps causes higher possibility of drop out and disengagement.
To learn more about ROHEI’s remote learning, watch the video that was shared during the session.
The slides for the session are currently available for download at the als2020.sg website at press time.