Carly Chasin, PhD is a manager of Instructional Design for OTS courses here at True Office Learning. She is responsible for overseeing and developing much of the world-class compliance training content that helps hundreds of organizations become more ethical.
2020 did not go the way I expected.
In my personal life, I adapted in ways big and small. My spare bedroom became a home office, my living room became a makeshift gym, and my twice-postponed 150-person country club wedding became a socially distant, 10-person beach affair.
Professionally, 2020 has also been marked by change and the need to adapt. I'm responsible for the development and release of my company's Off-the-Shelf courses; COVID-19 completely upended our course development plans for 2020. We found ourselves not only reevaluating the courses we were releasing, but how we were writing our courses.
What we were writing
In mid-March, we hit pause on the more traditional course topics we were working on and pivoted to courses that would help companies and employees navigate the ever-evolving challenges of working during a global pandemic.
The world had shifted, and we needed to as well.
how we were writing
After releasing some initial COVID-19-related offerings, we went back and rewrote courses that were nearly finished. Why? Because they were filled with hallmarks of our pre-COVID lives: they focused heavily on the physical workspace, there were scenarios that involved conferences and large in-person meetings, etc. A picture of employees stacking their hands in a huddle actually made us shudder.
The world has changed and will continue to change. If our trainings are meant to simulate reality—and actual situations employees might find themselves in—as content writers, we need to keep up.
For example, just as COVID-19 hit, we were preparing to release a course called Drug-Free Workplace. As the title suggests, almost every scenario was situated in the physical workspace and nearly every image featured people together in close groups. In response to COVID-19, we completely overhauled this course. We renamed it Drug-Free Work Environment and diversified the settings and fact patterns in many of the scenarios to encompass remote and virtual situations. We even added optional content to address how the changes and stresses of living under pandemic conditions can impact substance abuse while working.
2020 and the Larger e-Learning Landscape
At the end of the day, training needs to resonate in order to be effective. And right now, images of large groups of people and scenarios about business travel don't resonate.
One-size-fits-all training has never been effective and, perhaps, nothing has shown this more clearly than 2020. The way we're working is different, the risks are different—this needs to be part of our trainings.
Looking back at 2020 and all the workplace changes we've been through, and looking ahead to 2021 and all the changes still to come, I realize it's a challenging time to write training content. But with the new risks that COVID-19 has introduced to traditional training areas—like data privacy and workplace safety—we need relevant, resonant content now more than ever.