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Why the need for offline learning may increase due to COVID

Hardly any industry was spared by COVID-19. Our business was affected too and back in March we saw all our leadership workshops, presentations and roleplay sessions being postponed or cancelled.

Each of these cancellations and postponements was right because health and human well-being always come first. Many training workshops and coaching’s continued online and suddenly in the industry, the buzz words were "live virtual training’ and "remote online learning".

But the question arises as to whether people as social beings want to and actually can learn new Leadership skills exclusively with digital experiences – without the so valuable touchpoint "real-life".

Only when we share experiences with other people do we come alive. Therefore, physical experiences will always be relevant. Even more: I think that after this crisis people will have an even greater need for offline learning experiences in the "real" world and the senses of all of us will become more sensitive.

But some things will need to change.

Training, yes please – but unique

It started even before Corona: Training workshops and Leadership Programs were, in my opinion often presented in much more outdated formats. Instead of lecture-based sessions, new formats are needed: Programs must engage the learners and push them out of their comfort zone to help them overcome their biggest communication and leadership challenges.

With so many online training possibilities at the moment, organizations will start to consider whether the training program is worth leaving home.

Therefore Training Programs must offer more in the future: It's no longer about compliance, but about experiencing real spectacle. A workshop with 20 PowerPoint slides and a workbook to take home? Uninteresting. But a powerful session that combines personal learning goals with confronting games and real-life roleplay experiences?  Exactly that is what we want to experience again after the initial restrictions – no mindless listening to boring content.

Training is most successful when it can be experienced through different senses

Online learning and virtual training offer great benefits, but for me, it is not a one size fits all solution. Practising a face to face difficult conversation with a roleplay actor is a completely different feeling than reading the 4 steps of dealing with difficult conversations online.

Imagine this: You sit across the actor. Your heart beats fast. You forget the first step of dealing with difficult conversations once the conversation starts. Luckily you get to ‘pause’ the roleplay and start again. This time it goes better. The actor points out you constantly sigh during the conversation and use a lot of 'uncertainty language'. You never realised this, and you get to practice the difficult conversation again to see how those new insights affect the outcome. Every one of your senses is stimulated and you practice new skills in a real-life, safe to fail environment.

Quite different, right?   

We would do well to take the Corona crisis as an opportunity to finally upgrade face-to-face training.

Trainers, coaches, presenters, be creative and try out! Learners do not want to just watch from the outside. They want to be in the front seat and experience the learning. And please also keep in mind, when working with roleplay actors, make sure you undertake this endeavour with a professional.  

I believe we will learn a lot from this pandemic, and there is one thing we should not forget: 

The real learning experience that appeals to all the senses will continue to be decisive in the future. 


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