Blog: Online training with Voscur during COVID-19

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Wednesday, 2 September, 2020


Blog written by Maria Franchi, Training and Development Officer at Voscur

Voscur is proud of its training offer – we provide interactive and practical training across the local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.

We also add value with the opportunity for people to get to know and work alongside those from other organisations and to feel part of a wider, supportive community. People often comment on this in their training evaluations; it’s clear they appreciate the chance to share their experience and expertise, to network and to make useful contacts.

However, lockdown challenged the way we work, and brought an end to face-to-face courses and events. Our problem was how to continue to provide the training and its added value at a time when everyone was on a steep learning curve, reacting to the challenges of COVID-19, and training needs were high.

I’ve never been a fan of online training; I thought it cold, boring, one dimensional, non-participatory and too focused on theory, so I was reluctant to replace our lovely shiny offer with something a lot less sparkling.

Nevertheless, the training and events team set to work pushing the boundaries of Zoom. Our aim was to be able to say that we could deliver the same high-quality training, with the same level of participation – that we could do anything online that we could do face to face.

We started off with breakout rooms (the ability for people to work on a task together in small groups, created by the Zoom host) which were key to our added value. Each week we discovered new ways to boost the experience: using whiteboards, annotating them and our PowerPoints, sharing quizzes, pictures and handouts in real time, including icebreakers and energisers, participative exercises and discussions, co-producing materials in the groups, and so on. We got really overexcited and carried away, but with good reason!

We soon began to enjoy our training sessions, and so did our participants – all the feedback has been positive across the tens of sessions we have delivered online. The best bit? Everyone has commended us on the experience of being able to chat and work with colleagues from other organisations, sharing experience and expertise and making valuable connections, especially in the isolation of lockdown and working from home.

We love our online training now and we’ve proved we can do anything in our online training that we can do face-to-face, with no travelling time or costs. This is just as important in our COVID-19 recovery, when public transport is restricted and groups may have limited staff to spare.

Now it’s established and successful, we will never let online training go; it will be a permanent feature in our ever-developing offer of learning opportunities that work for the VCSE sector (and you can click here for a flavour of what's to come between now and April 2020; we'll add more in the coming months). 

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