Learning is just a screen away

Real-time interaction and online video training

The last few weeks have seen profound and unexpected changes to the way in which we order our daily lives, and some of these changes will be with us for a very long time indeed. One change has been the sudden rise of video conferencing from the occasional social call with family members, to the go to means of communication. In the last few weeks Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have overtaken the phone, and perhaps even email as a means of engaging with others in a professional capacity.

Online video has, for years, been the most convenient way of learning. How many of us have not used YouTube to find out how to do something like change a radiator or fly an aeroplane? I’ve even used it on my smartphone to find out how to open its case.

But YouTube videos and eLearning programmes lack one thing that traditional training courses do not, the real-time interaction with the trainer and other trainees that is so helpful in reinforcing the learning at the heart of every worthwhile training course.

At the start of the pandemic lockdown we started to look into how our trainer network could continue to deliver worthwhile training and learning content in a way that could lead to a recognised qualification, and build upon this rise in video conferencing.

Following the delivery of the first online Bivalve Purification Operations course, I can now say that learning really is just a screen away. The course was delivered over two half days by two trainers to three trainees based in Jersey and two based in Portsmouth. After the course the five trainees sat their exam, remotely invigilated by the trainers and myself, and everything including marking their exam papers was completed in just over an hour. This was a pilot to test how well the course and exams could be delivered and I think all those involved agree it was a resounding success. 

So what does this mean going forwards? For one, there are more Bivalve Purification Operations courses in the planning stage. It also means there is no barrier to the delivery of all our REHIS joint award programmes starting with introduction to HACCP, Principles of Food Authenticity and other courses as requested by industry.

This is not just about finding a way of delivering a training course while maintaining social distancing though. These new techniques will allow us to deliver courses to smaller groups, to individuals all over the UK, and without the need to spend three hours on a train and a night in a hotel just to attend a half day training course.  

There will still be face to face training in the future. Filleting training is one example where Zoom or even MS Teams will not help (much). But I see the new normal having far more training hours and far fewer road miles in the equation.

Combine this with our recently announced funding package for onshore training, the support of our network partners and trainers, and it will be a busy few weeks and months ahead for the onshore training team