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COVID-19 Disruption Challenges and What to Do About Them

At the DevLearn 2019 Conference & Expo, participants were asked what their greatest challenges were in their work. There were a total of 297 responses on eight main topics. On March 25, 2020, the eLearning Guild released the eBook “How to Overcome 8 Common L&D Challenges,” including 24 curated resources suggesting ways to meet these challenges.

In the meantime, between DevLearn and the publication of the eBook, the coronavirus emerged and quickly spread around the world. As readers know all too well, instructions from governments and public health organizations to slow the spread of this deadly, contagious disease and stay home have disrupted all learning and development delivery formats that have included travel and group meetings. This article takes into account the implications of these changes and suggests ways to deal with them.

“Nothing spreads like bad news”: Charles Dickens

As of early March 2020, the challenges and priorities for e-learning professionals have changed rapidly. At the time of writing 8 common L&D challenges, L & D’s business in terms of execution has changed radically, mostly in personal environments to virtual classrooms and asynchronous applications.

Despite hopes for a swift return to earlier circumstances, the realistic return to “normalcy” requires vaccine development, which is a 12 to 18 month process, and it also requires people and organizations to introduce new standards for many activities – dated Shopping for groceries to meeting friends for partying to learning and development. We must remember that in the previous pandemic, the 1918-1920 Spanish flu, the disease mutated and returned in the second and third waves, which killed even more people than the first wave. We have no real reason to believe that COVID-19 is better behaving.

We need to consider how our business will remain challenging through 2021 or 2022. The eight challenges identified at DevLearn 2019 will not go away, but they will change in their relative impact and the way we respond.

With the relocation of work from home, layoffs and the economic slowdown of the eight challenges identified by DevLearn 2019 attendees, these are likely to become the most stressful for eLearning professionals in the coming months:

  • Effective management of an L&D team
  • Budget / resources
  • Creating content that engages learners

ELearning Guild Resources

Articles dealing with the challenges will continue to appear in Learning Solutions and in guild conferences and publications. The ones in the cited eBook are still relevant. Here is a selected list of the best in the archive today.

Effective management of an L&D team

The big question managers now face is how to manage virtual teams when members are spread across time zones or when teammates in remote locations do not have reliable access to communication. Here are two articles that address these concerns.

Pivot: Managing a remote team for the first time? (Learning Solutions, April 10, 2020). Joanne Astorga

Establishment of a multidisciplinary team to create VR simulations (Realities360 2018 conference archive). Kevin Barrett

Budget / resources

Many organizations will be forced to tighten their belts as the economy shifts and revenues suffer. Having the resources, staff, and other resources necessary to operate will continue to be a problem.

6 Useful Tips for Designing on a Budget (Learning Solutions, Oct. 30, 2018). Susan Jacobs

You have 1 month and no money to create an online training program. Walk! (Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2019) Jessica McLin

eLearning in the smallest of spaces (eLearning Guild Research Library, September 26, 2018). Jane Bozarth

Creating content that engages learners

Developing and delivering content to a dispersed audience will be a widespread problem. Learner engagement is challenging under the best of circumstances, but in the remote, virtual classroom, it makes all the difference! This article provides links to five resources that will help you make your transition to virtual classrooms.

Providing Learning in Virtual Classrooms During a Pandemic (Learning Solutions, March 30, 2020). Bill Brandon

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