Professional education in the post-pandemic era

In this article Sarah Colley from First Intuition discusses the modes of delivery of professional education during the pandemic and how that will influence the delivery in the future

Online, virtual, live… these are the modes of delivery that have now become the new ‘normal’ along with many other terms that have become part of our everyday vocabulary - isolating, social distancing, PCR tests. The question now: is online training here to stay, and will it ever really replace classroom delivery?

We had to rapidly adapt to using technology in March 2020 so that students could keep studying whilst not being able to come into the classroom. As tutors, we spent quite some time experimenting with several video conferencing platforms. We wanted something that would enable us to experience as close to the classroom as possible; we were aiming for a virtual classroom. This meant being able to see everyone and have two-way verbal communication as a minimum.

We were fortunate to have experienced freelance tutors who were well-versed in classroom and online delivery and could now bring those skills to our virtual classrooms. Other tutors, including me, had a steeper learning curve. My first virtual classroom was just like my classroom delivery but via a webcam from my bedroom. I soon discovered that I needed to tweak some of my usual methods. I could no longer always see when students had stopped writing or whether they understood what I was explaining, as there is much less body language to interpret. The occasional student chatted more online than in class, but generally, many of my more verbose students were suddenly quieter. All of these were new challenges that needed overcoming.

During our second on-island lockdown, the virtual classroom delivery was slicker; we had progressed, shared ideas and the video conferencing platforms had more features. We had breakout rooms where students could go to do questions, providing the opportunity to ask for help on a one-to-one basis; we had coffees together during breaktimes and introduced things like ‘time to meet the pets’, always a favourite of mine.

So, where are we now? We are back in the classroom, but for students who cannot attend due to self-isolation or other reasons, live-streaming remains in place.

Have our student numbers dropped with migration to online products? No. In fact, the feedback is very much that while the virtual experience was better than expected, the classroom is preferred by most of our students.

Why? It’s because classroom delivery is so much more than a tutor walking in, teaching for the day and leaving.

It’s about getting to know each student as an individual.Part of that is chatting at break times, at the coffee machine, before and after class.

It’s about spotting the student who is struggling but feels uncomfortable asking for help and approaching them on the quiet.

It’s about the student who would lose concentration more easily if not in a space with their peers. Peer pressure can be a motivator in such circumstances.

It’s about building rapport between the students and us, making it as enjoyable experience as possible, leading to increased engagement and better pass rates.

So in answer to the question: yes, online is here to stay, but in my opinion, it won’t replace classroom delivery.

Sarah Colley, Managing Partner, First Intuition Channel Islands

First Intuition Channel Islands was established in 2017 to provide exceptional training for professional qualifications in Guernsey and Jersey. We are a local, owner-managed business with a fresh approach, focusing on maximising the experience and engagement of our students.

Since our inception, we have taught seven global prize-winners and have supported over 250 local students through their exams. We have also provided online courses and support to students all over the world. First Intuition Guernsey and First Intuition Jersey are both recognised as CGIUKI Recommended Tuition Partners.

First Intuition are a sponsor of the Governance Guernsey conference, find out more about them here

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