Interactive online classrooms - here's how we're delivering them
Paying attention to the individual’s needs is always at the forefront of our training. We have earned the trust of our clients over the last 25 years by fostering a culture of learning, asking questions and of mapping skills gained onto the practical realities of daily working life.
We achieve this through interactive training courses, where no question is considered ‘silly’ and where trainers and trainees build lasting relationships beyond the classroom. And guess what: we are continuing this interactive classroom model online!
1. Hands-on case study work
We start with the principle that the most effective way to deliver skills is through practical, hands-on case study based training. We have built our training around that, and in the digital era, we have also built our tech to serve this principle.
The trainers using their tablets to showcase problem-solving and how the theory relates to practice is the default in our courses. Online, participants can view both the trainer as well as their tablet as they are walked through a particular problem or example.
As in the classroom, participants have access to downloadable materials and can work through them in parallel to the trainer.
2. Online live classrooms: fostering an interactive and friendly atmosphere
All our trainers have many years of experience in online training delivery and they know how to create and control a classroom even when they are physically thousands of kilometres away from their trainees! For a good few years now, trainers sharing their OneNote with audiences, whether in the same room or online, has become commonplace for the EY Academy: we have come a long way from the first training sessions conducted on actual blackboards with chalk!
During our sessions, as the class work through case studies, they are expected to participate through chat and/or audio – the rules of participation are established at the outset by the trainer. For example, in smaller groups, participants will have their audio enabled throughout and will be able to simply ask when something is unclear. In larger groups, trainers will ask participants to communicate via the chat function with each other or they can notify the trainer through that if they have a question that needs immediate answering. Some trainers also break up each case study or example with a Q&A session at the end where the audio function is enabled for all.
As in the ‘normal’ classroom, balancing each individual’s needs as well as those of the group as a whole is a key priority for our trainers. Making sure everyone is comfortable is part of this, and you will notice that our trainers are equally friendly online as they are face-to-face! In fact, in some cases we have seen even more engagement as students are feeling more comfortable to interact and ask questions virtually than if they have to do it in front of a group of people.
3. Group work
Training participants gain so much from working through challenges together – that’s why group work can be such an important training tool. It enables participants to actively use the skills they are learning in the safe environment of the training classroom. It also fosters key skills that every professional needs: communication, collaboration and presentation of results.
In the age of Zoom calls and ‘breakout rooms’ there is really no excuse for not using this training method during live online training as well. We continue to do this, and we see incredibly positive feedback from training participants, who also tell us that doing group work online continues to be a great opportunity for them to bond and network with fellow course attendees.
4. Timely, thorough and fair evaluation
Testing is everything – and not just in the age of coronavirus!
Testing is an invaluable tool for assimilating knowledge and that’s why good training courses provide it in various forms: whether through quick test-your-knowledge quizzes, posing open questions, comprehensive case studies or attempting mock exams.
All of the above can be done online and can be done quite successfully especially when part of a full training syllabus and plan. It’s no wonder that major organisations like the Project Management Institute (PMI), for example, have brought forward the option to take the PMP, PMI-ACP and CAPM certification exams online – maximising flexibility for those attempting to get certified (have a look at our infographic for the full picture on this). Our International Finance Postgraduate Diploma, delivered with SGH Warsaw School of Economics, will be for the first time also moving online from October this year: this means that those participants not able to attend in person in Warsaw will have to attempt a two-hour written or oral examination in all the subjects covered, and this can be done remotely. For something different and customised to what Finance teams need on the job, i-learning IFRS provides modularised training with comprehensive case study assessments unifying skills across all teams, no matter their level at the start of the training.
Different types of tests can cater to whatever the need is, and it is important to leverage them as part and parcel of a successful training programme.
Interactive training is here to stay
True to our passion for training in all its forms, we have been setting up the online infrastructure for our online classrooms for a few years now. Our key priority has been providing high levels of interactive and practical training – the medium through which this happens does not much matter if the end result is there.
It’s now visible to more and more clients that technology can deliver real benefits in skills delivery for individuals as well as entire teams. The past few weeks have shown us how quickly what we see as ‘normal’ (e.g., associating training with a classroom or a lecture!) can radically change.
Although it’s tempting to want to go back to how things were, it’s worth thinking about the new opportunities that this change might bring about for building something even better: we’re using and developing technologies that help participants address the specific skills they need, at the specific point in time that they need them, with individualized support throughout at very affordable terms. We’re making sure that we keep interaction in the classroom – whether that classroom is online, offline or at their actual place of work, is a secondary matter!
Upcoming online training workshops: