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Davenport Co-Leads Session at CUPSO Annual Conference

At the beginning of this month, our Assistant Director Pooja Bachani Di Giovanna co-led a session on teaching and training lessons learned during the pandemic with the Director of the Center for Public Leadership and Governance at the University of North Carolina, Peg Carlson, at the Consortium of University Public Service Organizations Annual Conference.


The field of teaching and training has changed considerably since the pandemic, and that has impacted instructors and participants alike. In 2020, we had no choice but to move all learning and training online. However, in the last few years as we have slowly moved out of the pandemic, we have been given the option of modality. But, how do we determine which modality is best for our training? What are the factors to consider i.e. instructor, participant, subject matter?


The goal of this session was to explore answers to these questions (and more) by reviewing lessons we learned from the changes we made during the pandemic. This collaborative discussion prompted reflections on adaptations that we would like to continue with in the future, and modifications that were best as temporary solutions. Breaking away from the traditional panel format, Pooja and Peg rearranged the room into one large roundtable, posed open-ended questions, and facilitated a rich discussion on the evolution of teaching and training during the pandemic.


Some key tips for teaching and training in the post-pandemic landscape are: 

Hybrid requires extra support to work well. A hybrid format is the most challenging to manage and needs additional infrastructure and support. Dedicated technical assistance, good microphones, and a person assigned to monitor the online chat help ensure the active incorporation of both in-person and online participants.


Distractions are rampant for online participants. Recognize that many folks will be juggling more work responsibilities due to staff shortages. Online courses are a mixed blessing for public officials–they make it possible for people to attend who can’t get away from the office, but it’s harder to “unplug” from other duties and be fully present.


Less is more. Be mindful that your audience may be distributed across the full spectrum of digital readiness and comfort with online learning. Choose your digital tools carefully, practice them in advance, and have a backup plan ready in case the technology doesn’t cooperate.