These are insecure times, in many ways. Despite restrictions having been lifted, the future remains uncertain as far as Covid-19 is concerned. Can we make plans for after the summer holidays? One thing is for sure, we all have to regularly shrug our shoulders and say: “Who knows?”

At Holland Innovative Academy, in March (like many of others), we were confronted with the impact of Covid-19 overnight. We were paralysed, but not for long. Far from it. We managed to take our academy online within days. With some hiccups along the way, but we nailed it pretty fast. In fact, we managed to go ahead with no less than 90 online courses during lockdown!

Now, we will be using the valuable experiences we gained, as antidote to uncertainty. So that, together with our customers, we can start forging plans with confidence. In this article, we look back on turbulent months together with Marcel Logger. As Senior Product & Process Specialist and lead trainer within the Academy, he found himself in the middle of the Covid-19 storm: "The switch we made is something I won’t ever forget - such a major impact makes a lasting impression."

Leading in Learning?

March 11 at Holland Innovative Academy: international course participants started calling off en masse. Their managers weren’t allowing them to travel.

So, there we were: with our promise to be Leading in Learning. A hollow promise now ‘learning’ was no longer possible on-the-job or in the classroom. But, we still had ‘leading’, so we decided to at least fulfil that part of our promise!

Fluke chance or not, just before the lockdown, we had purchased new conference equipment and had revamped the classroom. It meant we had all the ‘hardware’ we needed to start giving online training. And, importantly, our team was all in to explore online training options.

Getting familiar with online

Next, we managed to convince our customers to continue with courses and training sessions that had been cancelled. We managed to do so by familiarizing them with the many possibilities offered by online tools such as Microsoft Teams and Mentimeter.

Mentimeter? Menti what?

Many people were already familiar with Microsoft Teams. Less so with Mentimeter. For us, Teams was the go-to tool for switching to online. Nevertheless, we quickly discovered that the digital training environment lacks one essential element: interaction.

In fact, establishing interaction in an online environment is one of the major challenges faced by teachers and trainers. How to ensure that you get a response to the questions asked? And how do you challenge the more timid participants to take on an active role?

And this is where Mentimeter comes in. This tool enables a trainer to create interaction by, for instance, adding challenging game elements. In addition, a trainer can easily identify which topics are being experienced as difficult and where additional help is needed.

Teaching online - the drawbacks

Yes, our trainers were enthusiastic. And they still are. But the switch to online also has some disadvantages. It is more tiring than traditional teaching. Preparing, planning, following participants during the training (no body language!): everything requires just that bit more effort.

And a few unforeseen benefits

For us, it was a steep learning curve. What does and what doesn't work online? Teams turned out to be great for the onboarding process. For an informal Meet & Greet, an explanation of the training set-up, to inform each other of mutual expectations and for testing hard- and software before the course kicks off. Teams helps to ensure a smooth and efficient start of the training.

Mentimeter turned out to be the ideal tool for asking permission to share each other's data. It has also proven to be a powerful tool for polls and evaluations.

Post corona - the best of online and offline

The question is whether we will return to ‘old-fashioned’ teaching now that we have experienced the benefits of online. For the future of training, it is important that the customer identifies what mix of on- and offline works best for them. There is no doubt about it: meet-ups in person will always remain invaluable. But now that we have experienced certain elements are especially suited for online, it makes sense to benefit to the max from hybrid course set-ups.

All in all, uncertain times have brought us certainty: the flexibility to adapt courses to Covid-19 related measures. Here at Holland Innovative we have the expertise, tools and hybrid training options to fulfil all customer requirements and comply with  governmental restrictions.

Starting a course this fall?

From September 1st onwards it is possible to attend our training courses in our special established 1.5 meter classrooms. The possibility for the fully remote and online format will remain also!

Check the HI Academy