A Facilitator’s New Normal

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After 16 years of classroom training, the world changed within the space of a few days. This is my brief story – my new normal!

Truth be told, I miss the energy of a classroom – the anticipation of meeting new people, their energy, both individual and collective. Their aspirations, those aha moments when you see it in their eyes that they understand the point you are making, and the light bulb has set off in their minds. The opportunity to connect away from the bustle and activity of what goes on around them. The joy of creating a safe environment to learn, explore, and make mistakes. The ever so important and vital human touch.

The list goes on … I miss the classroom.

We are in the new normal though – from 6-year olds taking to a tablet or computer for fundamental yet vital learnings, to assisting older team members find their way around a video chat with breakout rooms and virtual emotions. Things have changed and how!

But this is a tale of opportunity, of the new promise and the new normal, that somehow seems to propel one into the future, if not show us a sneak peek into what could be. It holds the assurance of new learning and surely a new 16 years more!

So, what have we taken away from 5 months of only virtual classrooms, gamified learning, collaborative tools, online quizzes, and real-life virtual scenarios with participants who I cannot see and whose body language I cannot read? A whole lot!

To name a few – colleagues in the training fraternity of our organization have swiftly adapted to technologies across companies and industries, all the while ensuring that we respect customer privacy and confidentiality rights. Suddenly, we are to write stories and not PowerPoint content. The sometimes-bulky participant handbooks have gone out of the window (yippee! I never liked them anyway). Now we create knowledge maps that are filled with energy and life that jumps at you from a couple of pages – brilliantly curated learning content, art, and features.

We are to embrace the goal that we speak into a laptop and participants sitting miles away are to be engrossed, entertained, energized, and educated. We are to pick up on non-verbal cues – virtually. We are to use fewer tactile tools and yet not have distracted participants!

All of the above has moved me, from a comfort to a learning zone, it has challenged and continues to challenge the passionate facilitator in me.

This is the new normal. Yes, we don’t get to meet face to face, yet we are connected. Yes, we don’t read non-verbal cues, but we are challenged to heighten our capabilities and develop content that immerses the learner. Yes, we cannot control the learning space, but we can control learner engagement and have a positive impact on their desire to learn.

To put it all together – we have been forced to change and yet, we have come out victorious. Willing to learn, adapt, contribute, and succeed.

Over the last 5 months, Skills Café has facilitated over 6000 virtual learners.