It seems a long time ago now…March 23rd is the date that sticks in my mind. This was the date that a good client of ours said ‘no more classroom-based delivery’. Even now I can remember the anxiety I felt. Don’t forget, back then there was over-use of the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ and no real indication of what the future held. Scroll forward 8 months and there has been a major shift of attitude within our delivery team. The vaccination programme is imminent and it looks like things will start to get back to some sort of ‘normal’ between Easter and early summer. So, what’s changed for us?

Looking back, the enforced switch to an online delivery platform was implemented fairly seamlessly. Admittedly, there were some teething troubles, but the overall consensus from the client perspective was that it was working well. We had to make some modifications to the scheduling as we lost some time in the initial adapting phase and had to make some significant changes to modus operandi regarding delivery to make it more interesting. A big change that we made straight away was having 2 staff delivering; previously we’d operated sequentially. The two staff approach takes the focus off the deliverer and make the sessions more engaging as the non-deliverer can annotate drawings in parallel, promote Q and A discussions and answer anything that comes in through the chat facility. We’re also exploring the vast array of apps that are becoming available to add to the online experience.

So, we have adapted…

…and are becoming increasingly comfortable with the approach. As well as ensuring that our online delivery is informative and engaging, we’ve also had to support and prepare our delegates with undertaking online exams. That was a hell of a lot of work initially as we endeavoured to get our delegates comfortable undertaking assessments whilst effectively being ‘watched’ by APM invigilators, but we got there! We’ve just received a second batch of results for our PMQ course and our results are still better than the national average.

Another example of this adapting saw us taking a risk recently when we attempted a tower-building activity as part of some virtual team-building at the start of a new course. This worked so well that you could almost feel the developing enthusiasm radiating out of our laptops! All of this has led to us now ‘selling’ our courses as ‘online classroom-based’ delivery. Rather than being a temporary workaround for the pandemic, it has become a normal method for PLP’s training team.

So, what about the future?

One of the delegates that started on our Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship course – delivered online – recently enquired whether we would go back to a traditional classroom style of delivery once the pandemic was over. The training team had considered this and the answer, which might be a surprise to some, was ‘no’! We feel that we are delivering a good quality experience and also appreciate the many environmental and wellbeing benefits that come as a result of increased levels of working from home. We want to embrace this and are evolving a blended approach for 2021 which will involve a significant amount of our online classroom delivery together with an occasional real classroom session. This seeks to incorporate the benefits that we are realising with the new approach together with those associated with the traditional. We’ll keep you posted on how this is going next year!