Thinking out of the P&P box
They say necessity is the mother of invention but I reckon that pregnancy and pandemics challenge you to think differently too. Let me explain….
I’m going back a few years to when I was Riverside’s Level 5 tutor and heavily pregnant with my 3rd daughter. In those days we relied heavily on work-based training and I was beginning to find all the travelling around the country exhausting. We also had many learners travelling to our Hereford HQ for sessions. It seemed like we were spending many hours not actually training and tutoring but in transit. And it was costly too.
So I thought there had to be an alternative delivery mechanism – one which could be done remotely and save both time and money and my aching back. It wouldn’t call it an original idea but I hit upon the use of Skype to make contact with my learners. It wasn’t the best technology but it worked and within weeks I was reaching out to almost all my learners and employer contacts in this way.
The key thing I found was that they all seemed to embrace remote contact as much as I did. I just hoped it wasn’t personal! I don’t think it was as several of my tutor colleagues started working the same way.
Fast forward a year or so and I was being interviewed for the role of Operations Manager on the Senior Management team. As well as managing our team of tutors the role called for someone to drive forward Riverside’s whole approach to its delivery process. So my pitch was based on the concept of moving towards a remote learning model as Riverside’s primary delivery mechanism. The clincher I think was the proposal to re-invest the money we’d save on more technology and innovative platforms which you can explore here later.
As it happened it proved to be a bold and very important decision by the SMT as within months the covid pandemic had hit and we were compelled to work in a completely different way. Remote learning suited the new environment perfectly. Not only does this provide a safe learning environment for our learners and our staff, it also allows our client businesses to continue to up-skill their employees whilst remaining Covid-compliant, ensuring business continuity. Today most of our courses are delivered via Zoom which is Covid-safe, limits disruption and does away with costly travel and overnight costs. It just makes complete sense.
Many businesses really struggled to survive during the pandemic and although our business was impacted by it, we are fairly sure that our adaptable and innovative approach enabled Riverside not just to survive but to thrive. By thinking differently we’ve emerged stronger with a distinctive modus operandi and identity.
Has it worked operationally? Well we are currently achieving 100% pass rates once learners pass through Gateway (versus an average of 94% amongst a clutch of other providers). And 75% of our learners are achieving qualifications at distinction level. Whilst our post qualification tracking of satisfaction levels remains very strong at 96% amongst employers and 86% amongst learners.
That said we are all constantly learning how to adapt the process to keep it engaging for both our learners and our staff. So we are employing symbols and chat boxes and plug-ins like Jamboard to keep the experience highly-interactive and a bit of fun too.
But I’m the first to admit too that people are social animals and F2F interaction with colleagues is something that people have missed during lockdown. Now that things have eased a little we are trying hard to encourage safely-held water cooler moments both live in the office and online too. So that we can natter about issues other than work. It’s good to talk but it’s great just to chat sometimes.
Donna Loynton, Operations & Quality Manager