The going back to in-person training question
We’re frequently asked, now that we appear to be in post-lockdown times, will we be returning to in-person training? The short answer is most probably not, the longer answer is more interesting.
We had been increasingly asked to travel to destinations further afield to teach our course, with enquiries from Orkney to Australia and it became evident that we didn’t have enough years in us to reach all of these places. To address this, before Covid hit, we were in discussion about providing our training online and it’s fair to say that the pandemic sped up our efforts.
We had reservations; mostly around worrying that the course would not be as good online. However, the opposite has largely proved true. The biggest loss to the course in going online is the fun of meeting new people or learning new skills with friends and colleagues. However, as we had so much content jam-packed into our one-day course that it actually left very little time to socialise
In person-group training needs sufficient numbers of interested learners all being free in the same place on the same day in order to make a course viable and justify Lindsay and I taking a day to get there. We would travel to a destination, heavy with our suitcases and unwieldy huge trolleys stacked with large boxes full of supplies. Neither Lindsay nor I are spring chickens and this lugging about took its toll, especially as we learned the hard way that we needed step-free access to venues.
Initially, when we started out some venues had plenty of space to spare and we would wonder if putting on the event justified our carbon footprints. As time went on, we increasingly taught large groups of midwives, students, doulas and other birth workers in rooms that were bursting at the seams. Our course has important physical activities forming part of the learning and not having enough space to learn compress, massage and blending was at times problematic.
The online course is a mixture of video lessons, quizzes and activities which appeals to a variety of learning styles and aims to break up the learning into interesting chunks. There’s plenty of PDFs, workbooks and additional information to download and unlike the plastic and card coated paper manual provided with our original course, learners are free to download and or print. I don’t miss lugging those course manuals the length and breadth of the country and it’s good to know that they’re not languishing unwanted on shelves. Most learners will want to retain some learning materials in printed form and it’s good to make a choice about which bits.
The quizzes provide opportunities for learners to check that they have taken in the salient points of the module lessons. The in-person training only just had time for one quiz and ‘only just’ describes it well as it was often a sped-up to fit into the vanishing time left at the end of the day, which did not leave adequate time for contemplation and reflection. The online quizzes effectively enhance learning, giving the information an opportunity to land before moving into the next module.
One disadvantage of doing the course online for learners is that they do not have Lindsay and I running around them, the one not speaking, always one step ahead preparing the space and arranging equipment for the next upcoming activity. Instead, they have to gather their own equipment, essential oils and person to practice their new skills on. On the bright side, rather than fitting all that learning into one intense day of study, they have the luxury of time to slow down and enjoy it over 7 weeks.
The main benefit of going online is evident when we assess a learner’s work because of the significantly improved individual attention each learner now gets. During the in-person training, checking that each attendee had completed each learning activity to a good standard was a challenge. There wasn’t time for a quiz after each module. Large groups sometimes contained a few immature students who chose to giggle and not focus during the compress or massage activities, this not only negatively impacted other’s experience, but it was clear that some were not applying themselves to learning about what compress and massage can do in the birth room. Nowadays, each student’s work is considered in detail and messing about rather than taking part cannot ever be rewarded with a certificate.
The focus on each individual student’s learning is the biggest win for the online version of the course. During in-person training, the learners were split into groups, feeding back to the main group how they had differently responded to the same scenario. Each student only had the opportunity to briefly mention one or two aspects of the care they proposed in response to the situation. Now online, each student’s response is given a tutor’s full attention, the entire answer, and not just one small aspect is considered and responded to with feedback.
Similarly, during learning massage, in-person training of 30 at a time made it impossible to get around each student to give detailed feedback on their massage technique. Having the video submissions ensures that every learner receives comments and advice to ensure their practice is meeting a good standard for effective care.
So, there are very many reasons why our course works better online than it did in person. The advantages are many and fab and way outweigh the disadvantages and so we are highly unlikely to go back to the old days.
Hope to see you online soon!
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Aromatherapy for Childbirth equips midwives, doulas and other birth workers with ready-to-practice confidence and competence to apply aromatherapy for women in labour.
Accredited by Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA).