My Experience of Online Learning

27 May 2020

We hear a lot about the advantages of online learning in the higher educational setting during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but there are also ways in which online learning can be used for training and development in business and similar organizations. I recently attended the Conflict Dynamics mediator skills training online.

Pandemics often result in people staying home for long periods of time, but organizations cannot push the pause button and work has in fact not stopped during the coronavirus pandemic. Training and development must also continue. This continuity is largely due to technology, which makes it possible to conduct training and continue development while maintaining social distancing and interacting remotely in the safety and comfort of our homes or offices, whilst fast becoming experts on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, amongst other platforms.

When the COVID-19 lockdown took hold we at Conflict Dynamics continued to conduct our award-winning, Commercial Mediator Skills Training course. This course usually takes place on a face-to-face basis, but Conflict Dynamics shifted this training course from the classroom to an online format using Zoom. This has demonstrated that virtual learning can be just as effective as face-to-face learning.

The key ingredient to delivering face-to-face training in a virtual environment is planning and preparation. We developed detailed trainers notes and technical guidance for our trainers and the producer of the session. We also trained our trainers in online delivery methods.

To ensure a good participant experience, it is important before the session to ensure that all participants are set up to be productive by having the right technology and resources; technology has been tested and reading materials are sent in advance. We, therefore, provided our participants with a Zoom Protocol and offered drop-in sessions before the training for them to test their systems.

During the session, ground rules were set to manage interactions and the full use of video function, chat and indicator functions were used. Participants were kept engaged and energized using virtual breakout rooms, polls and discussions to keep simulated. The style of the trainers was upbeat and active. After the session, feedback was requested from the participants on content, delivery and technical experience in order to make adjustments for future sessions.

As a result of conducting courses online, we have realized that learning does not stop when lockdown and social distancing starts. And our mediation skills training course has equipped our participants with the necessary skills to mediate disputes not only face-to-face but using online platforms too. It also offered a great deal of content, interaction, reinforcement and real-time feedback during the virtual sessions. The participants saved on travel and hotel costs and participated in the course more flexibly from the comfort of their homes.

COVID-19 has given us a reason to move online, making online our new reality as it is the only practical solution during this pandemic and possibly beyond. It may well be our new normal!

- Robin Monakali