New working practices associated with lockdown meant that Operis could no longer deliver classroom-based financial modelling training courses.
So Jonathan Swan, Operis Training Director, decided to move to online delivery for training. We caught up with him to see how it has been going.
How have you found the switch from classroom to online training?
It has been much easier than anticipated. We have had experience, over the past couple of years and at clients’ request, of using online delivery. For me, as a professional trainer, the biggest problem has been the lack of interactivity.
This is particularly the case as we are doing practical work as opposed to just giving lectures – because the delegates are actually doing something they have to do it correctly. The big stumbling block for me has been to support them if things go wrong.
Students have to explain to people if they go wrong and they don’t always have the language, being novices, to explain exactly what has gone wrong. Some of them find it difficult to articulate what has gone wrong.
Part of the magic of our courses is that my colleague, Rui Sobreiros, and I have something of a sixth sense which means we can just walk up to someone, find exactly what’s gone wrong and fix it.
It’s not that hard once you know the tricks but that requires interactivity. In a room that’s been easy enough but the switch to online delivery has been much easier because we have found the right tool.
What technology do you use?
Zoom has been a gift for the sort of work we want to do because you can take hold of the student’s screen and the keyboard as well.
It’s not just telling them what to do, you can on-screen show them what you’re looking for and how you’re fixing it. You can even hand it over – which is exactly what I do in the classroom.
It’s a big leap forward from other applications.
How do you cope with the drawbacks?
The only issue I can think of is the duration of the sessions. A couple of months ago we did full days but we found that that was quite a stretch for people so the new model we’re using now is half days. That means a four-day course takes eight days.
We do miss the interaction. I’ve enthused about the ability to share screens but that does require delegates to admit they have a problem in the first place. If something’s gone wrong in the training room you can see that flicker of worry and make a discreet intervention.
Here you have to wait for them to say: “Jonathan I’ve gone wrong here”.
What feedback have you had from students?
Feedback has been very positive – people are enjoying it. I think that is because it so easily fits in with what’s going on at the moment.
Of course, there is still a lingering desire for face to face training. We have a portfolio of training courses and all we are doing is just adding a new mode of delivery. As trainers, it’s complementing the skill set. Potentially this opens up an enormous audience.
I have really enjoyed it. New working practices have been a huge catalyst for positive change.
Our USP at Operis has always been instructor-led training and we can now deliver that remotely.