For ten blissful seconds after waking this morning, following my dream that Covid-19 and lockdowns had just been a horrible nightmare, (and of course the recurring one where there’s only a miniscule saloon door on the public loo cubicle I’m in), I thought that the world was as it once was. The elderly and vulnerable were no longer at risk from this vicious virus; we could meet up with friends (as many as we liked); go on holiday - remember those halcyon days?; and very importantly for the business community, it was once again, well, business as usual.
Talking of business, from KLC’s perspective the pandemic has certainly brought its challenges. Representing our clients at employment tribunal via CVP has not been a walk in the park, what with judges’ screens freezing, and cross-examination of witnesses made so much trickier due to not being able to read their body language, that normally gives so may clues, and cues, for questioning. Thankfully, despite the difficulties, we have maintained exceptional outcomes due not in small part to the advocacy skills of Piers Chadwick, Partner.
As for me, I’ve so missed not being able to deliver face to face employment law training. Yes, actually in the same room as other people, not just via some form or another of video conferencing software.
Talking to a client recently who was very upset because her children weren’t back at school after being promised that they would be, I pondered that it’s not just academic learning that children are missing out on, but also those important life lessons that can only be leant from being with their peers. And that goes for adults too.
Receiving appropriate verbal and non-verbal feedback in our everyday lives, and being aware of others’ feelings, is surely what helps us adjust our own behaviour, and hopefully that makes us kinder, happier, and more effective human beings. Speaking generally, it’s easy when you’re physically with people as you can pick up on all those non-verbal cues. You don’t have to be an expert in body language, it’s merely something that most human beings do innately. If a colleague seems down in the dumps but when asked says they are OK, if their body language is clearly showing the opposite, we can gently explore that to find out if there is anything we can help with.
The same principle applies in my area of work to delivering seminars and training courses. When delivering physically face to face, I can look around and check whether I’m communicating effectively with my audience and if not, can adjust my approach, revisit a topic and explain more clearly.
I’ve delivered many successful online courses over the past months where delegates have told me they have learnt much, but long-term I’m not sure that’s enough to give less experienced HR professionals the confidence to take their knowledge and apply it back in their workplaces.
So does online schooling for children, and online training for adults, mean that knowledge can’t be imparted effectively? Of course it can, because with good online content so much is achievable.
As long as parents working from home can cope with the added burden of supervising their child’s online learning (and by the way, statistically it tends to be women even when both parents are working from home) then online schooling certainly doesn’t have to be the stuff of nightmares, but too much of it just may not be the making of dreams either.