Like many organizations amid the pandemic, Vale Training paused its in-person operations. Virtual learning — initially thought to be temporary — soon transitioned to a thriving delivery model. To meet the needs of students and providers, and keep up with the demand for claims training, we were tasked with quickly reinventing the business. 2020 was a year for our industry — from casualty adjusting to residential estimating and everything in-between. In fact, we launched two estimatics programs thought to be impossible in a virtual format: heavy equipment and marine watercraft. While our students may not have been able to physically attend courses, the virtual instruction was just as beneficial. What has changed for the learner and provider?
One of the biggest challenges for students surrounding remote learning is getting acquainted with the technology. Understanding how to access the platform, adjust the webcam and microphone, and ensure a strong internet connection is key. Being prepared to learn has a lot less to do with willingness – it’s now an infrastructure requirement. As well as being prepared to be on camera as video has become a standard.
We are competing for the learner’s attention among their home, work and family schedules. As such, the virtual course should optimize their time and provide value. A few hours of self-paced activities each week prior to the scheduled program is an option to create a shorter live session, which can be less disruptive to outside schedules. For the instructor, the virtual world allows for hundreds of learners to interact in one session, so there’s no longer scheduling constraints or space limitations.
New channels of communication
Virtual learning enhanced the communication between learners and instructors. Through real-time discussions, chat, emoticons and breakout rooms, there is always an opportunity for connection. Additionally, sessions can be recorded for future use and deployed as a supplemental learning aid or self-paced learning asset for new audiences.
Virtual learning created an environment to facilitate learning; not just instruct. That means sharing knowledge, directing the structure of the environment and encouraging learner engagement — whether it be vocal, visual or a technical thumbs up. The role of a trainer has expanded from expert to producer and technical trouble shooter. Each session is an experiment that makes a better experience for the next group of learners.
When the learner and trainer are remote, they both assume the responsibility of staying engaged, maintaining a dedicated learning environment and fostering collaborative learning. This ensures each student receives the experience they need to succeed. There is no longer the ability to sit in the back of class to avoid eye contact with the instructor. Video has become the great equalizer for all students.
Vale took several steps to allow for independent exploration of the claims environment, including a 3D environmentof our facility. Additionally, we leveraged props and employed a “show and tell” style of instruction. Another benefit from a design perspective is the ability to access subject matter experts for quick “drop ins” to expand the program scope by sharing expertise not readily available in a physical classroom.
With our 75-year tradition of classroom training focused on developing and enhancing the skills of insurance adjusters, we’re just getting started. We'll continue to make refinements to our learning model, add new tools and update you as trends evolve.