Your Stories No. 2: Resilience

These stories are part of our wider series, Your Stories, which was created as a result of all the wonderful experiences, advice, and tips from working during a pandemic shared by The Learning Guild community. The purpose of this blog series is to bring the community together to reflect on the work we’ve done over the last few months during an unprecedented time.

Today’s theme? Resilience.

Resilience is all about the quick recovery—jumping back on the saddle. The next 17 stories show exactly that. The following members of our community embraced change and made the best of difficult situations in order to move forward with purpose, showing true resilience. Here are their stories, experiences, and tips for you:

1. “I’m an “SME” who has been doing Distance Ed/ID without even knowing that there was a specialty—I just sort of got in and did it. Fortunately, my intuition and fearlessness of software actually aligns with best practices. So, now I’m like a sponge trying to figure out how to be a one-man show, with absolutely NO formal training, and I find the best way to survive is to look at EVERYTHING and whittle down what I can manage.” – Pam

2. “We have a global team that was already used to working virtually. With travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, the virtual aspect of our work has increased. This has actually allowed for more focused work sessions. Our team is being very productive right now.” – Steve

3. “I am learning in this time of COVID that being forced out of your comfort zone sometimes leads you to a Silver Lining. However, this doesn’t happen without taking risks and trying new things, some of which we are merely being forced to do at this moment. Trying new platforms, tools, and solutions during this time is a challenge. In our program, we are being forced to use tools that we have not otherwise been accustomed to using. One main push for us has been embracing the Virtual Classroom. I have always believed that anything you can do in a live classroom, you can do in a virtual environment, but you have to know how to use your tools. We get tripped up, not believing we can do new things because it is simply not in our nature to change. But look at what can happen when we are forced to change. And what do they say?….. Change is Good! As a Training Producer, I have been longing for the people I work with and the people for whom I create digital media content for, to embrace more modern ways to both teach and learn. I am seeing that not only are we giving new things a try, but we are liking it, and even preferring it. Difficult times call for CREATIVE SOLUTIONS. Here in our program we are dipping our brushes into the ink, abandoning fear of a messy canvas, and growing in leaps and bounds. With reckless abandon, we are beginning to be inspired to create. To see ourselves in a new light as creators is a gift, the silver lining in the learning. Funny how the very thing we are afraid of, CHANGE, is the very thing we needed, CHANGE. And look … it’s all good!” – Laura S.

4. “I think it’s important to look at the current challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. While we should certainly assess the situation and consider what we’ve “lost,” we must also not lose sight of the future and how these experiences will change who we are and what we do for the better. My team has taken some complex education events that were designed to be presented in person and moved them successfully to a virtual platform. We are communicating now more than we typically were in the office via Microsoft Teams and other collaborative technology. We are growing and thriving because that’s our mindset and we are doing it by serving our mission. It’s exhausting at times, yes, but it’s also invigorating!” – Megan

5. “Plan and then be flexible and agile as things change frequently. Rely on your key staff no matter what their level—oftentimes your front-line staff is stronger than your managers.” – Valerie

6. “When it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to impact travel, Our client training department, The Learning Center, proactively suspended in-person classroom training sessions at all locations but wanted to ensure that everyone still had access to instructor-led training so they quickly developed a virtual plan and designed a 2-day virtual course that closely mirrored the live classroom but took into account that the delivery was going to be virtual. Careful planning, preparation, delivery, and reacting to suggestions and observations from our first virtual class ever was key to getting overwhelmingly positive results from our clients. While we had all delivered webinars in the past, none had done a virtual classroom, let alone 2 days, so client feedback was important. This program has been so successful that we are considering changing our classroom model to be predominantly virtual rather than in person as those classes were getting less and less attended while the virtual is at capacity with waitlists and additional classes are being added as needed.” – Andrea

7. “Instructors reluctant to online learning have risen to the alternative delivery challenge, some in unique and interesting ways.” – Joan

8.Being patient. As we adapt to changing environments, we must allow everyone the time to reflect and make good business decisions regarding those changes. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Give people time to learn, grow and thrive.” -Debbie

9. “We’ve been delivering asynchronous online learning for over 10 years. During this period, we’ve had to rethink how we connect more with our students. We’ve increased individual tutor support and tutor engagement posts. We’ve introduced group study sessions in high volume subjects. Students want to connect more with their peers and tutors.” – Lucia

10. “Being a traditional training institute where kids aging 12-18 years are taught, We had to shut down classes for thousands of aspiring engineers and doctors. It was a shock. But within a week, We found digital tools and explored them, experimented, and started delivering lectures online through various channels to reach out to students. Due to internet speed, limitations of devices, software, we could only do part of the job. Still, it showed us a way that we could mix and match, that we could blend our learning styles for students. Some specific services can be digitized to increase the effectiveness of training, some parts can continue in the old traditional way, so it forced us to be more effective to take the best of both styles and develop a more efficient style of training.” – Bharat

11. “I’ve learned that when we need to quickly move into a new way of working, we can do it at our institution. It hasn’t been easy across the board, but overall we have adopted new ways of communicating and working in order to continue our operations. I think this experience will change the way we work in the future, for the better.” -Laurie

12. “My clients are really excited about virtual opportunities. They had limited experience prior to this crisis and now can see some positive aspects to virtual learning and events that hadn’t been on their radar.” – Deborah

13. “We’ve done a lot of redeployment of staff over the last many weeks. Some staff is really rising to the occasion and others are faltering. Those that are rising are often the same that volunteer first. They are keen and eager to learn new tasks and skills. Depending on the position they shine at customer interaction and others at focused individual tasks. These same people are often becoming the Trainer in the “train the trainer” scenario and we couldn’t have survived in this time without them to help with all the PPE training and review. Then there are those that falter and by that, I mean that they are good at the job they were hired for, but they just don’t have “something” that allows them to easily or opening shift to a different task/position. It’s those people we were hoping to rely on as well that we now have to re-evaluate their contributions during these kinds of “worst-case scenarios”. Understanding and learning our staff’s strengths and weaknesses have been key to our moving forward. That being said, I would still advocate that everyone is contributing in some way to the best of their ability. It’s really the strength of the community that allows us to survive.” – Tracy

14. “There are opportunities during a time of crisis to rethink how business is conducted and the processes that we use. Being open to new ideas is a requirement. Narrowing our focus is a priority. Objectives get modified. Change is daily.” – Chris

15. “Two things really stand out for me: 1) Being prepared to deliver training in a variety of learning environments is key. 2) Having real involvement and participation with stakeholders can make the difference between failure and success. 3) If the value of having a training department is ever questioned, situations like this both elevate and validate the importance of our role in a company’s success. Though we were not prepared, by coming together with our stakeholders as a team, and everyone putting in long hours and being dedicated to the task, we were able to successfully transition >1,000 employees to working from home. This involved distributing equipment and training them on how to use VPN, VMware, and softphone technologies (as well as Zoom). In addition, in 3 weeks, we optimized three 2-week-long new hire classroom courses for virtual delivery, which involved adding engagement activities, creating more asynchronous activities and projects, reducing daily training hours (which has extended the days in training), and so on. And we’ve onboarded around 70 new employees. This quick-and-dirty approach to converting classroom to virtual classroom training is far from perfect, and we have plans to make it better, I feel proud of the work everyone has done to make this happen. That said, I wish we’d had the foresight to plan for something like this and to provide the resources and time to create different versions of our curriculum, including more elearning, to handle different populations, situations, and environments. Going forward, and because of this experience, I think it will be easier for us to argue for and obtain those resources. Completing a blended approach to our new hire roadmap has taken on a whole new sense of importance!” – Amber

16. Since I have been furloughed, I have been trying to find contract work. Based on the job listings, many employers are still requiring their workers to be onsite as soon as the lockdowns are lifted. The tasks of an instructional designer do not require us to sit in an office. Before the lockdown, I was able to effectively build collaboration with a remote team, and complete courses quickly and efficiently. I had hope that this lockdown would show employers that remote work is possible for many more positions than they had initially offered.” – Sam

17. “We offered about 90% of our New Hire content via ILT. We only had 3 weeks to convert everything and everyone to VILT. Our biggest take-away was ensuring we took the time to instill confidence in our Facilitators that they had the skills and tools to deliver the content remotely. We first started looking at the content and then quickly realized that if we concentrated on the Facilitators that they could “convert” a lot of the content themselves. Not ideal…but, everyone seems to be learning and growing without too much frustration and confusion. Now we are taking a deep look at how we can update the content to make it more interactive remotely. The ILT was highly interactive; yet, much of it didn’t automatically convert.” – Jane

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