CEF Learning and Working Methods in Pandemic Times

September 1, 2020 by Ana Frangež Kerševan

In mid-March, we found ourselves locked down, like most of the world. Our main focus – face-to-face learning events – got canceled overnight. So what did we do?

Staying and working at home, with some small setbacks at the beginning, went remarkably smoothly. Running our office work from 30 locations worked well, and having sailed the world of online courses before, on our internally developed Online Learning Campus, was a good thing. So overnight, we knew that we needed to transform our learning online. And that’s what we did. We transformed with every learning item and learned something new. Having a lot of related content available online was helpful, but checking things all over did not seem very practical. So we went step by step.

Then we needed a reality check. The region we work with primarily, got the virus a little bit later than we did, which is why we were in the dark whether they are still working, how digitalized they are and, most importantly, if they are responsive and willing to learn.

Running a survey and receiving feedback put us in the right direction in forming our response. Moving everything online in the form of webinars and online courses, even events, the region still hoped to see live, and staying in contact on all hierarchical levels made all the difference. Reaching out to individuals and exploring their responses helped us learn how institutions function. Appreciation for being there for them, despite what seemed “the end of the world” was a very rewarding discovery for us. It also led to a much bigger outreach of our events, now that they were available online.

And what about us, the CEF team? I observed our dynamics and functioning, while working from home; focused on work assignments, while still doing things close to what used to be normal. Regular morning digital coffee minutes have kept us sane and connected, sometimes even more than seeing each other in the office. Work routine and predictable meetings were actually refreshing. And what I appreciated the most, was the respectful observation of the online meeting length – a meeting scheduled for an hour, which in the face-to-face world would often end up as a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, was a maximum of fifty-eight minute gathering, with very clear next steps and to-do’s. I sincerely hope that we will not forget this too quickly, when rushing back to whatever will end up being “the new normal”.

What next? We will continue to run online courses and transpose every planned learning event to the online stage. Preparing the program for the next two years and adjusting our responses and actions is our focus now. Imagining the world in 2026 is another. What we definitely did not expect is to live the future this quickly. Some digitalization aspects that seemed unimaginable three months ago became possible overnight in many of the institutions across the region and at home.

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