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LEARNING BY THE WATER-COOLER Episode One, November 17, 2020

LEARNING is everything and everything is learning.

Today, two weeks on from the day America went to the polls, Republican firebrand Donald Trump is still yet to concede victory to his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Trump, the reality TV star, the ultimate showman, the man who traded on his self-created image as the Washington outsider, will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from The Oval Office. Biden, the understated former Vice President from the Barack Obama administration, the ultimate safe candidate, the career politician, holds his counsel as he ticks off the days on his calendar until his planned inauguration on January 20, 2021.

In many ways when you look at this dramatic episode in US history from a learning perspective - we are left to realize, that the whole point was to learn. Sure, the message was important, but not as crucial as the messenger. In the end, this became less of a US Election and more of a referendum.

Figures from the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics estimate that when the dust finally settles, this presidential campaign will have seen the two candidates spend an eye-watering $6.6BILLION on getting their messages across to the American public.

The approaches in their campaign ads were starkly different.

TRUMP: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

BIDEN: “Let’s take on problems – and not each other.”

With victory (now) seemingly inevitable, Biden characterized the race for the White House as a battle for America’s soul. He spoke of a need for an end to the “dark and angry politics” of the last four years.

For those of us who work in e-learning and training in these unprecedented pandemic times, there is a parallel to be drawn. It lies in the need to know how to manage 'the fear'.

In so many industries, people are being asked to adapt to working from home, to constant Zoom calls, to becoming a “remote employee”. Think about that term. Taken out of context, the undertones of alienation that it carries alarm some and leave others downright scared of what the future holds for them in the workplace. Biden will seek to show in 2021 that he can calm his nation down. He must show those who have helped to elect him – and those who did not – that the office is occupied by someone who can be Presidential in their ability to adapt to any situation. How he rises to the challenge of showing this Key Performance Indicator will be the making, or breaking, of his term as the 46th President of the United States of America.

In our industry, managing the fear is about finding a new blended approach to learning in a world that has radically changed even since Pathways took its first steps into the business world 15 years ago. Life is no longer about brainstorming on a corporate retreat, or waiting for that "a-ha" moment from a master facilitator as they present from the stage at a glitzy conference. These COVID-19 times mean different measures and finding new and innovative ways to teach and learn within our working environments.

In the eight months since lockdown in March 2020 we have embarked on so many exciting and ground-breaking projects. One of the highlights has been working with our partners at Toronto’s Centennial College on programs that had previously only ever been delivered in the classroom. The Schools of Culinary Arts, Baking, Hospitality, Math and Computer Science, have all embarked and embraced eLearning. Not as a stop gap, but as a fixture of post secondary education. We were able to create through e-learning a virtual route to replicate the traditional way of teaching and discover an inventive and engaging new way for students to gain the knowledge they craved.

Yep, learning is everything and everything is learning. Even when we're afraid of what might come to pass.

The last two weeks watching the US Election play out have taught us that sometimes the message can be clouded by the mediums it is delivered upon – and the messenger who delivers it. But sometimes, our fears are conquered by those very same things.

Do you need to find a way to embrace e-learning and new training methods in the rapidly changing business world?


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