Reflections on the New Normal

As many of us were forced to do, agilityIRL pivoted from in-person classroom to live, online classes in mid-March.  While our transition to online learning was forced by the pandemic, I’ve learned a lot about the environment, its challenges, and benefits over the past few months.  As a long-time CST used to in-person classroom training, here, in no particular order, are a few of my reflections on the “new normal:”

Zoom Video Call

Technology

The features available in remote meeting and classroom technology has exceeded our expectations. Tools like Zoom with its polling and break-out room features and collaboration boards like Mural and Miro allow for a much higher degree of interaction than past generations.  Candidly, I am not sure whether the technology exceeded our expectations because they were so low to begin with, but regardless, the tools have led to a rich learning experience that puts past “Computer-Based Training” (CBT) to shame.

Personal Touches

Because we have all been working out of our homes, each class has a more personal feel to it.  In our experience, people are often more of their “true self” participating from their own home.  People’s children, spouses and pets wander in from time-to-time, and while some might see this as distraction, I welcome it.  We had a 7-month old, Betty Lou, attend part of a Certified Scrum Master class with her dad (she wasn’t eligible to receive the certification, since you have to be fully present and participate) and have met countless other spouses, partners, children and pets since the advent of online classes.

Global Participation

Because of the new online format, I have been able to meet people from France, Trinidad, the Netherlands, and all parts of the United States.  When doing in-person classes, I got to see a good part of the U.S. but online allows me to expand my relationships and allows participants to a get glimpse into other cultures and how Agile concepts translate within those cultures.

New Skills

Moving to an online format has been a growth experience.  It’s forced me to consider new ways of doing things (e.g. “How are we going to do that in Zoom?”).  While this growth has been painful at times (as all growth experiences are), I have developed a new set of skills that I can use to better help our clients.  It also just felt good to learn something.

“Zoom Fatigue”

It’s real—online training is tiring.  While in-person training offers its own drawbacks as an instructor, “Zoom Fatigue” (see this article from National Geographic for reference) is real.  I have found that I need to ensure that I get a full night of rest prior to teaching and even sneak in a short nap following each day’s class.

In Conclusion

Overall, the online experience has been better than I expected. It has offered participants an opportunity to continue learning in spite of the pandemic while allowing us at agilityIRL to continue to fulfill our mission.

I still miss in-person courses.  I miss the impromptu conversations that occur on breaks or over lunch.  I miss the connections and friendships that are built between participants in the unstructured moments of the day.  While I look forward to returning to in-person classes as soon as possible, I know that live, on-line classes are the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

If you are interested in joining a live, virtual online course, our current course schedule can be found here.