How the pandemic forced us to move our training programs entirely online — and why we’re never going back.
Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized that online training far surpasses in-person training in nearly every measurable way.
Students are more present and engaged, the material is more accessible, and retention is leagues better. New skills can be applied and tested immediately, allowing Concord trainers to answer questions and provide guidance in real-time. Brief, on-demand sessions were immensely popular with busy capital project executives and leaders. In short: When it comes to training, online wins.
Why couldn’t we see this before? Why has it taken so long for Concord — and the capital projects industry — to fully embrace online learning as a cornerstone of employee training and development?
To be fair, we were already conducting some of our training online. Typically, about 60% of our training was done in-person, in conference and board rooms from Cairo to Texas to San Francisco to France, and on site-visits around the world. The remaining 40% was done online, remotely from our offices in Palo Alto, California.
But until COVID-19 arrived, we never managed to make the transition to 100% remote learning. We already knew that training outcomes were better when education is delivered online, and we knew that costs were substantially lower because neither the trainer nor the trainees have to travel. Habit and resistance to change kept us locked in old patterns.
Plus, many of our clients have encountered challenges in the past working with Engineering Value Centers, so they resisted online training. It’s worth noting that working remotely with engineers is an entirely different experience from training online. Training is brief, finite, and doesn’t impact project outcomes the same way that working with an EVC does. (Actually, Concord training will help you engage productively with EVCs and improve those outcomes, but that’s another subject.)
Three months after COVID-19 forced us to take our training program entirely online, we decided to make the change permanent. We recently launched the Concord Academy online, and we’re now working to build out an accessible, affordable, scalable training platform for capital project professionals around the world. Here’s why we’re fully committed to online learning:
- Engagement: Professionals who take part in our online learning courses are more engaged. The format supports full attention, encourages active learning, and allows for immediate workplace application. Participants experience an educational journey rather than a one-time training event.
- Retention: The challenge with in-person training is that it is delivered in long stretches, at least two days long, and up to two weeks. Participants are pulled away from their work, inundated with new information, and even the most committed struggle to retain it all. Online delivery allows us to break learning up into smaller blocks and makes information easy to access and review on-demand. Missed a key point? Lost the thread? Just hit rewind.
- Investment: Online training requires capital project team members to take ownership of their professional development. Herding a team into a conference room for training day does not guarantee that everyone will engage with the material. Online training requires that participants take active steps to listen to and engage with the content, so they can pass the pop quizzes and tests built into the courses. Finally, they’ll gain a sense of accomplishment from completing the course. Team members who are hungry to learn will soar.
- Connection: Online training offers unprecedented new opportunities to connect with leaders and like-minded capital project practitioners around the world. It’s not the same as face-to-face connection, it’s even better. Trainers and facilitators drive discussion through live webinars and training sessions, and Concord’s advanced system supports group chat and one-on-one Q&A sessions around each lesson. Video chat and forums allow participants to connect meaningfully overtime, developing solid relationships with leaders and peers.
- Certification: We’ve written before about the need to develop a clear career path for capital project professionals, and Concord’s new certification program meets this need. We’ve established a rigorous, test-based process for certification based on learning objectives and acquired competencies. Our first two flagship programs include the Workface Planning Certification Program and the AWP Certification Program.
When it comes to building the capacity of capital project teams, we’ve concluded that a standardized, virtual learning approach is the best way to teach key concepts and critical competencies. With face-to-face follow up via live Q&A webinar, this becomes the most robust, accessible, and effective training system on offer, delivering practical outcomes that far exceed those of in-person training.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all an opportunity to pause and rethink the way we do things. Here at Concord, we’ve taken what we’ve learned and used it to transform and improve our way of working. Capital project organizations can do the same by using this time to train teams in Predictability Thinking™ and Advanced Work Packaging. Ready to get started? Let’s talk!