by Valerie Delaney, Principal, Learning + Development
This was a challenging year for so many and in so many ways.
While we all faced, and continue to face, our challenges, we here at Delaney are grateful our families and teammates remain healthy and happy – the main thing right now. This has allowed us to focus on learning about new tools and techniques to tackle the challenge of taking our training practice fully online. I should hasten to say that today’s virtual training – if it is going to succeed in the marketplace – is a far cry from old-school online learning, which was mostly off-the-shelf, pre-programmed, self-directed learning with limited opportunities for participation and adaptation. Delaney Virtual Academies are live, trainer-led sessions. They are highly interactive, dynamic, and fun!
Based on our efforts and results, here are three training trends I expect to see in 2021.
- Virtual Training Is Here to Stay.
I can hardly believe I am saying this, but Delaney is a virtual training company. We want to play hard in this space for, well…forever! Necessitated by the pressing realities of the current pandemic, here are some of the reasons we will continue to train virtually even when “normal” returns:
- We have greatly reduced the environmental footprint of our training events – no travel-related CO2 emissions, reduced print training material, and no hotel catering waste from single-serving items like beverages, sugar, and milk. (We do miss those hot breakfasts though!)
- We’ve been able to pass on to our participants the savings linked to reduced travel and catering costs.
- Trainers and participants have expressed an appreciation for better work-life balance. More on that below.
- The technology allows us to adapt nimbly to expressed needs. We can add a course relatively easily, for example, because we don’t have to factor in travel. We can adapt presentations in real-time, to suit the needs of a particular group. We have more options to play with and that’s cool.
Delaney is not alone in seeing the value in virtual training, as some of the largest providers of in-person training are moving to online delivery; no doubt, more players will enter the virtual training field and bring exciting opportunities with them.
- Virtual Training Is a Team Sport.
Training was never really a one-person show, but it was possible to carry out a successful in-person event with just one person. That’s not the case with virtual training. There are just so many new and different aspects to manage. Delaney Virtual Academies have proven to be successful because everyone is part of the training team now – from Delaney engagement specialists-turned content developers, to our course registrar and queen of online pre-course surveys, to our chief scheduler and meeting link provider, to our multi-talented tech hosts (AKA producers. Read Naomi’s blog at https://www.rmdelaney.com/blog/facilitation/the-producers-role-in-online-training/), to our amazingly tech savvy trainer-facilitators, we are all in this together and learning together. This takes time and money, but it is worth it, and I expect organizations will increase their investment in virtual training capacity.
- The Demand for Virtual Training Will Grow.
While some long for the “old” normal, others are happy with elements of the “new” normal. Our participants have expressed appreciation for the flexibility of virtual training. Many people are juggling work and family responsibilities at the same time, but still have been able to access training schedules and course offerings to suit their needs and circumstances. They’ve also been amazed that our virtual training events still provide networking opportunities, which people loved about our in-person sessions, and are just as productive and fun – without the travel and the associated costs. Trainers, too, are happy to be able to train from home offices, happy to not be hopscotching across time zones, happy to not be living in hotels.
As crazy a year as it’s been, there have been elements of calm and joy – like being home to put little ones to bed, doing course work when it suits you, and meeting people from all across the continent in one virtual classroom. We have participants from Anchorage to Antigonish in our upcoming Planning course. This is so neat! I don’t think people are eager to jump back to the old way of doing things where everyone was required to be physically present in the same room at the same time. It seems presumptuous to ask that against the background of all that has happened this year. People will hold on tightly to anything that allows them some control over work-life balance. Virtual training has a place in all of this.
And, related to this…..I think people are saying, “Hey, I want to be happy with my life right now, not in five years when I move up the corporate ladder…maybe.” Added to this is the unfortunate reality or possibility of pandemic-related job loss. People are facing these challenges and proving themselves to be resilient. They are willing to invest in creating new and best versions of themselves. Virtual professional development will be a huge asset to people as they develop their growth plans. I see more P2 newcomers join our Virtual Academies, for example, as they explore the fascinating work of public engagement, but I expect to see a general uptake in virtual training in all areas of endeavour.
Stay well and enjoy your virtual training. Valerie
Here’s just a sampling of what our participants are saying about our virtual training.
“Rich with insight, filled with practical information that I can take immediately into my current position! This course was exactly what I was looking for. It provided the right amount of introductory theory to begin on the practical applications of the coursework. The digital format was more engaging than ANY in-person course I have taken. Richard and Naomi were supportive, knowledgeable, and professional going above and beyond the instruction I expected. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a course in Public Participation.”
(Virtual Academy, August 2020, iap2 Planning Course) Communications & Engagement Lead, Toronto
“Excellent course! Very engaging and I learned a lot! I was worried to take the online format but it was extremely well run and facilitated and I felt like I was in a classroom.”
(Virtual Academy, September 2020, iap2 Planning Course) Urban Designer, Vancouver
“Planning has been such a fruitful, rewarding online learning experience! I enjoyed it immensely as participants were an interesting blend of professions and facilitators so supportive and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Public Participation field.”
(Virtual Academy, September 2020, iap2 Planning Course) Administrative Support, Burnaby
“I thoroughly enjoyed the techniques course and the professionalism, and the expertise of the Delaney trainer (Jessica) made the course a wonderful learning experience that I will recommend to others within my organization.”
(Virtual Academy, October 2020, iap2 Techniques Course) Communications Coordinator, Fredericton
Fantastic Learning in a virtual or in person environment. They found a way to deliver virtually that was engaging, interactive and interesting! (Virtual Academy, December 2020, iap2 Planning Course) Regional Lead, Research & Knowledge Translation in Long Term Care, Prince George