Image credit: Lorri Birkenbuel, Montana Tech
Educators today need to continue to be flexible in the ways in which we deliver our content. Our Institute and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s continuing education for students and practitioners addressing Total Worker Health® concepts face the same challenges.
Many of us not only preferred teaching face-to-face prior to the pandemic, but we had little experience doing otherwise. Like many of my colleagues, I have taught workplace safety and health courses for decades in a classroom whether it be in a traditional classroom, conference room or conference venue. Early in the pandemic some of us struggled to imagine how we could get the same level of interaction online as we might in a real or traditional room. We learned to use tools like polls, “chat” and breakout rooms to try to engage; and we began to learn ways to be successful at it. We are also experimenting with asynchronous educational opportunities which further challenge us to create interesting content and interactive activities. In creating virtual offerings, we immediately identified a benefit: people from all over could join us for events that were sometimes either cost or time prohibitive, although not everyone prefers or succeeds in virtual learning.
And then, just as quickly, things have changed again. Some of us are beginning to go back into that traditional room, maybe even a bit nervously after so much time away. And yet we have a new challenge too: hybrid education. My colleague Liz Hill, SAIF and I, through our Oregon Total Worker Health Alliance, experienced just that last week as we taught our “Total Worker Health (TWH) 101: The Basics” course to members of the Big Sky Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals and to the Student Section at Montana Tech. While Liz and I were logged in individually, the Montana Tech students and professors were in a true classroom, while other Big Sky Chapter members joined virtually and individually. Just when we thought we understood engagement!
We appreciate our ability to connect virtually with others who may be geographically distant from us, but we too are envisioning a few changes for future hybrid events to better invite everyone to engage. The good news: Liz and I have a number of TWH educational events over the next few months to continue to hone our engagement practices. There is still room if you care to join us in the events listed below.