Our Move to Virtual Training
Your Questions Answered
On 12th March, in response to the rapid spread of Covid-19, we made a decision to move our in-person training into live virtual training rooms. We were not alone in doing this since, around the same time, several leading universities and training providers took similar decisions. We believe this signals a major shift in how learning will be undertaken during this period when there can be no certainty for resuming in-person learning.
The good news though is that with the current technology available to both students and training providers, it is now possible to provide a fully-interactive virtual learning environment that mirrors classroom training with no more than you already have in your own home!
We’re actually really excited by what this means to our students and this page sets out to answer the main questions you might have about the transition and the experience you will have as a student in our virtual training. Of course there may be questions we haven’t thought of here, in which case we’d love to hear from you.
Why we made the move
Like so many other service providers across multiple sectors, our ability to continue providing business as usual is significantly impacted by the current crisis of Covid-19. With the need to respond to the escalating threat and anxiety around infection and the emphasis on social distancing, we quickly decided it was right to move to virtual training.
By making this important shift, we would ensure the continuity of our students’ learning, enabling those already in training to complete their course and for those wanting to start training to be able to do so. Importantly, it means our students, both new and existing can undertake their training as originally planned – and without another layer of disruption to their lives caused by Covid-19.
How we’re now delivering the training
For the time being, our training is being delivered in a live, virtual training environment.
After testing a number of virtual training solutions, we chose Zoom – a very popular platform which you may already have experience of.
We just loved how simple it was for our students and course facilitators to access, navigate and communicate using its intuitive features.
Most importantly, it has everything we need to replicate the in-person experience with trainer-led presentations, break-out sessions, interactive group conversations, Q&As, detailed walkthroughs of models, coaching practice and more.
Our course dates and training schedules
One of the big questions we had to decide on was whether to stick with current course dates and format or to restructure it specifically for a virtual environment. The challenge of the latter was that if we tried to change the dates, or divide the training into smaller bite-size portions, it would throw all our students’ diaries and groups in the air!
With all the upheaval students are experiencing in other areas of their lives, we felt it was less disruptive to simply stay with the current dates and timings of training. After all, we know that our students already have these times blocked off in their diaries.
We were delighted to find, once we ran our first virtual classes over the same two-day period, that we’d made the right choice! The feedback was glowing from fully-attended groups and by utilising multiple breaks to ensure participants could stretch their legs and grab refreshments, we found that the training was just as engaging and energised as live, in-person groups.
As a result, we are sticking to all the dates already planned for 2020 and sticking too to the format of the training over two-day modules. The main difference being that people could be part of the experience from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
The Virtual Training Experience
So what’s involved in virtual training? If you’ve never been in a virtual classroom before, you might be suspicious that it’s like a webinar where you sit passively watching endless slides and listen to a disembodied voice!
Well, nothing can be further from the truth and below we lay out the key elements of the experience.
The trainer will share ideas, concepts and skills to you just as though in a real training room. You’ll see the trainer and all your group participants with their “name badges” live on screen and you’ll be able to see and “feel” the energy of the room just as you normally do. Sure, we occasionally use slides (though not often) but you’ll still have the ability to see the group at the same time.
Throughout the training events, you’re able to ask questions and engage in group discussions. Simple tools like the virtual hand-up allows you to get the trainer’s attention and ask questions, share an idea or offer an answer.
The facility to quickly and easily break the whole group into smaller groups within their own virtual room allows the trainer to divide the group into smaller cohorts to explore ideas or complete and exercise before bringing them back to the whole group for a wider discussion.
The same ability to break out in groups forms the backbone of the coaching practice sessions. Each triad of coach, coachee and observer get their own virtual rooms to work together practising new coaching skills, offering feedback and reflecting on their learning. The trainer is also able to easily join any breakout group to observe and provide feedback.
Just like the classic flip-chart in a training room, there’ll be times when the trainer wants to describe concepts visually. No problem. They’ll simply open up a virtual whiteboard to draw diagrams or map out ideas for the group. Better still you can even do the same for yourselves in the breakout rooms!
Polls, Quizzes and Questions
At times, the trainer will want to ask questions to get clear, anonymised responses. We’re finding this a great way to get feedback from students on how many coaching hours they have completed, what sectors they work in or how much they are charging without people having to feel sheepish in sharing some information publicly.
We have always made use of videos in our live training, especially to explore and analyse some of the classic practitioners of dialogue-based change. In our virtual classroom, this becomes easy as we play short videos for the group to watch and discuss either in whole-groups or in breakouts.
Finally, all training has live text feed allowing you to ask questions or make comments privately or to the group as a whole. This is proving an excellent way to test the temperature of the room on their understanding and clarity around the topic under discussion.
This truly is a mirror to the in-person training. We recognise that you lose the physical connection but there’s no question that the virtual experience provides an exceptional way to connect conversationally and energetically. We genuinely feel the experience is every bit as interactive and intimate as in-person training and we are very excited by what it offers us and our students.
What are group numbers?
Currently we are keeping group numbers the same as our in-person live training. The groups are around 24-26 participants which we have always found to be an excellent balance between an intimate experience mixed with diversity and energy. We’ve already tested this in virtual groups with our current students and found it worked just as effectively online.
What technology do you need?
The joy of modern virtual learning is that you really don’t need much and you’ve almost certainly already got it!
All you need is an internet connection, a computer or tablet, a set of headphones and a webcam. (which most computers or tablets have built in). Simple!
With these four things, you can see and hear the group, and we can see and hear you! That’s all you need to make for a fabulous interactive experience.
Feedback so far
We’ve run our training virtually a number of times already since we made the decision and we’ve been able to monitor and collect feedback. We have been blown away by how positive it is. Here’s just a sample of what our students are saying:
When Will We Go Back To Live Training?
You won’t be surprised to hear that we simply don’t know when we’ll go back to live training. Like everyone else, we are at the mercy of Covid-19 and the length of time it takes to get it under control. Our aim is to resume in-person training once this is fully safe but this looks set to be many months.
We will, of course, constantly monitor the situation and communicate transparently with our students.
When Happens When we Transition Back to In-Person Training?
You might be wondering what happens when it’s time to go back to in-person training. Will you need to attend live training in one of our delivery cities? The answer is no. We will continue the virtual training for a whole course completion but offer you the choice to attend in-person should you wish to experience some of your later modules in that format?