Creating training exercises for a Covid-19 spatially-distanced classroom

We’ve been adapting our policies and procedures writing course for the current Covid-19 training environment, and we’re now ready to deliver it in two different ways:

  1. The delegates and the trainer(s) all work from home, and the course is delivered online.
  2. The delegates are in a spatially distanced classroom, and the trainer(s) delivers the course remotely.

We’ll be delivering the courses from September onwards.

The main adaptations we’ve had to make have been around the duration of the course and the classroom exercises.

Course duration

We’re splitting the one day course into separate sessions of two or three hours, delivered over different days. We’ve found it’s asking too much of the delegates and the trainer to do online training in a single block. Delegates often prefer this approach, as it gives them time in the day to deal with any work-related issues.

We found when we’ve delivered training online that it took longer to deliver the course – around 20% more time. So, it’s important to allocate enough time for the course.

We’ve also adopted an approach that Google takes with its online courses –  to have a “classroom assistant” who supports the trainer. The classroom assistant is responsible for managing the activities associated with the online environment. These include addressing any technical issues, and checking on the students’ progress (via the online chat facility). They can also deliver part of the course, should the trainer be called away for any reason.

Adapting the exercises

We had a number of exercises where delegates would work in pairs, and exchange documents and equipment. We also had a group exercise involving putting Post-it notes onto walls.

We’ve changed those so that delegates can keep two metres apart in a classroom, or do the exercises with a partner where both of them are working from home.

For example, for exercises where delegates need to jot things down (on virtual Post-it notes), they can use Microsoft Whiteboard as an alternative.

Reducing risk

We’re currently holding off from having trainers physically in classrooms. For onsite courses, there’s a need to spend the night somewhere prior to the course, and use someone else’s room. Those are two high risk factors. Additionally, the training room we use for public courses in London is still closed. We know some delegates prefer to be physically in a classroom, but the difference isn’t that great, and it’s worth doing if it means we keep everyone healthy.

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