Distance learning was an eye opener

Relia Ebiya
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We have been going through an unprecedented global crisis for almost a year now. In October 2019, we were just beginning to hear that word, COVID, on the other side of the planet. At that time, we could not have imagined the crisis that would follow.

In order to limit the spread of the virus, we all had to restructure our day-to-day activities. Small, medium and large companies, schools, universities, training centers… Everyone, without exception, had to adapt. Remote work became an integral part of our daily lives - an ally for some and a challenge for others.

In the absence of adequate preparation, remote work is difficult to set up. This is particularly true in training organisations, where learner support is crucial.

I am a student at Matrice, an organisation that offers training programs in entrepreneurship and innovation. In January 2020, I joined the Tech Manager program in order to master web development and digital project management.

The program started in a classroom environment but, in March 2020, we too had to adapt and switch to remote learning.

The transition was easy from a logistical point of view, as the program was already digitized; courses, projects, exams and exam corrections have been accessible on the Rbean platform since the beginning.

Nevertheless, our mentors encountered difficulties in running the program online, such as maintaining team spirit, or taking into account the personal situations of each student - because not everyone has a home environment that’s suitable for work.

As a young mother in a relationship, switching to online learning was tough. No more daycare, no more face-to-face work, no more colleagues by my side. How to manage my time, my schedule, my fatigue? How could I motivate myself to work, maintain a stable study rhythm while fulfilling my role as a mother?

I had never worked remotely and I was very sceptical initially. I love and rely on human contact a lot, so I faced the anguish of having to manage all my interactions through a computer or telephone screen.

And then, I got used to it.

I discovered a new way of working with online tools, be it communication through instant messaging (Slack, Discord), videoconferencing (GoToMeeting, Whereby, Hangouts) or collaborative file management (Google Drive, Google Documents). My preference goes to planning tools (such as Trello, Google Calendar, Notions) which have allowed me to stay organised and to keep an eye on my goals and tasks for the days, weeks and months to come.

Beyond the technical skills that I developed through using those tools, these new work and learning processes allowed me to juggle my professional and personal life as smoothly as possible.

In the end, working remotely was an eye-opening experience because I was able to enjoy my family, take time for myself and, above all, continue my training in good conditions.

The transition from face-to-face to online learning could have been a major hindrance to our skills development, but we are now better equipped for the future of work. Rather than having to endure the situation, we had the opportunity to prepare ourselves for new ways of working and to develop the skills necessary for the current job market.

Because work is unlikely to go back to what it used to be.