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Panel highlights: Moving courses to live online

Last week we hosted a webinar with a panel of Arlo customers who have successfully transitioned their face-to-face courses to live online, in the wake of COVID-19 (if you missed it, you can watch the recording). We were joined by Bruce Cooper from Springhouse, Anne Cave from Selwyn Community Education and Margarita Sanding from IRI.

This is part of an ongoing webinar series we’re running to help training providers transition to online, share industry knowledge, and answer your burning questions.

Here are some of the key themes and takeaways from the webinar:

1. Pricing for online vs face to face

This was a common question from attendees throughout the webinar, with many wanting to know if training providers should be discounting their online courses, on the premise that they’re cheaper to run than a face to face course.

Our panelists collectively disagreed.

“There is an equal amount of preparation, materials, and technology investment to support the maintenance of our current pricing”, says Maggie.

Bruce says they have not changed their pricing, as their price point is competitive for the classes they offer regardless of the delivery method.

People attend courses for the quality of the content that’s on offer, not for the venue or the catered lunch, or the materials provided. So it’s a valid point to maintain current pricing, if the quality of your courses remains the same. It’s also worth noting that none of our panelists have had any push-back from customers on pricing.

2. Keeping your audience engaged

The magic number from our panelists was 60-90 minutes before providing an activity or short break to spark engagement.

Bruce says the typical model for a Springhouse course is explanation, demonstration and then a hands-on exercise. Keeping that same model for virtual delivery works well, because it provides a content break by allowing students to do something hands-on.

Springhouse has also moved their full-day or half-day classes to shorter sessions spread out across several days.

3. Supporting tutors in the transition to online

Consultation has been key for Anne, as online learning is an entirely new way of life for Selwyn Community Education. Anne has been working closely with tutors to discuss which classes might be appropriate to transition to online, and which ones aren’t. And while a couple of tutors have opted out of delivering their courses online, as they say it’s “not my way of teaching”, the majority have been happy to adapt. Tutors have been attending Zoom tutorials, to upskill on webinar software, and Anne has set-up a WhatsApp group to support and engage her tutors. “They’re building confidence with each other – sharing tips and tricks”.

Both Springhouse and IRI had buy-in from all staff to deliver courses online. With both organisations already delivering a mixture of face-to-face and online courses, their tutors already had experience in virtual delivery. Regardless, IRI has still taken this opportunity to expand the technology skills of their tutors, and Maggie has been running internal Zoom training sessions and dry-run webinars to upskill and feedback on what they could adapt/change. She’s also created a shared document for all staff on virtual training tips.

Bruce says Springhouse tutors have had to really work on improving their course material for online – simplifying the message to learners is key. They’ve also had to adapt to the demand for additional support beyond the course itself, with attendees needing to revisit hands-on activities more than they would in a face-to-face environment.

4. Choosing what courses to transition online

Selywn Community Education has taken a customer-based approach – letting demand drive the transition of face-to-face classes to online. For example, there’s more demand to learn a new language via an online course, than there is for a watercolour art class. They’ve also carefully considered the market – moving courses online means there’s more competition, and some of those online courses are free. It’s not worth competing with those in some instances.

IRI has prioritised courses that give them the “most bang for our buck”. They’ve also looked at their existing course materials to see what they can quickly and easily repurpose – for example any existing videos or self-based materials.

To register for our next webinar click here, and while you’re waiting check out our resource center for training providers. Or if you’re new to Arlo, explore our remote training software and start a free trial.

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