Recently I had to pop into my clinical workplace where I do the (very) occasional shift to undertake my mandatory training. Now I had best be honest about this and confess that it’s not my favourite day of the year, if there’s a way to kill interest in a topic then calling it “mandatory” does it for me. Having been a nurse for many years I feel I have experienced many different approaches to these days: sitting in front of a DVD with dodgy sound and that skips for a day, completing workbooks, face to face “fun” workshops (not fun) and of course then there’s the e-learning … or as I like to call it “click and snore.” It’s not an easy job delivering mandatory training so my heart does go out to the trainers that have to deliver this type of learning year on year, in recent years I have seen it as an opportunity for professional face to face discussion and interaction and this seems to have been welcomed by trainers and mandatory training goers alike .. and we have had a fun day. I sometimes wonder if the word “mandatory” is perhaps half of the problem here and we shouldn’t call it “refreshers” or “finding out what’s new” … anyway I digress … this weeks training … let me tell you about it:
I arrived to the day somewhat flustered as a road was closed and I only just got to the venue with minutes to spare. I was asked to take my temperature with a scanner and for some reason it wouldn’t work on my forehead, I tried it on a fellow mandatory training goer and it worked on her, for some reason my forehead was just not co-operating that day, and this all added to the general stress of the day. After confirming that I had no Covid 19 symptoms I was then ushered into a room with 3 other people and told that I must keep 2 metres away from the others at all times and keep my mask on for the day, which seemed to me to be a great approach & I settled into my chair ready to start. The trainer was not in the room but we were asked to watch her on a TV screen with a computer attached as she presented via Microsoft Teams, she started by saying “I really hate this way of training” (great to start with the trainer expressing that she didn’t want to be there!) There were 6 other groups of people watching from different venues on the teams presentation too. Now I don’t say this lightly when I state that it was the worst training day I have ever attended !! There were a catalogue of fatal errors that meant that learning was simply impossible, let me explain with some rather handy bullet points….
- The trainer treated the training exactly as she would have if she was in the room –
- Microsoft Teams is a platform that performs best (in my opinion) if you are close to the screen and interact with other people remotely i.e use it as it’s designed to be used
- The presentations were impossible to see as they were so small and not designed for this type of learning
- Sharing of videos did not work – it relied on both parties internet being tip top, which it was not
- We weren’t allowed to mute ourselves (don’t ask me why) but this led to lots of background noise and feedback.
- It was really uncomfortable and restrictive
- We could have joined in from home
Learning remotely is not the same as an “in the room” experience and we can’t treat it like it is. We need to use different and new ways to engage learners that embrace the strengths of things like Microsoft Teams rather than highlight the weaknesses. We need to use social media and media stack to capture and keep learners attention. We need to be creative and inventive and not just simply present as we would do if we were in the room.
Covid 19 is a wonderful opportunity to reinvent mandatory training .. in fact learning and development as a whole in nursing. Mandatory training has, over the years, become a tick box exercise but here is our chance to change that to use it as an opportunity to discuss, reflect, refresh and connect .. to bring learning to life, to make learning better.
I have to deliver some virtual learning sessions ( for Plymouth University Student Nurses #PUNC20 and for Carrot Learning) over the next few weeks so indirectly this was a learning experience for me, it has enabled me to see what works and what doesn’t and think about what I will do differently (cue another set of bullet points) :
- First up is to use the technology in the way it was designed to be used, 1 person and 1 computer and celebrate this!
- Use the comments box to encourage discussion and questions
- Stop regularly to allow time for people to speak up
- Don’t pretend that you are there in person because you are not
- Encourage some media stacking, so have a Twitter hashtag or get learners to look stuff up or take time out to watch a video
- Advocate that digital isn’t the only option but is in fact a brilliant option.
Digital shouldn’t be what we do because there is no other option, we should do it because it’s inventive, exciting, engaging and easy to use – and in a covid compliant world – safe to use. Let’s not pretend we are in the same room, because we are not … let’s instead use this as an opportunity to do something amazing.