Last year, Bouke contacted MDF with the request to help make internal online meetings at Deltares more engaging. As part of a special working group on online stakeholder engagement set up in response to the pandemic, Bouke concluded that despite their efforts, online meetings and working sessions weren’t going well. He noticed that during these online gatherings, people were not having a good time, they were distracted with other tasks, and showed little enthusiasm to participate online. Something had to change! Bouke concluded that the outside perspective of MDF, an organisation also operating internationally, might be exactly what they needed.

Lisa, Senior Trainer Consultant, and Karin, Online Learning Advisor, were immediately excited about working with Bouke on this challenge. They co-created an online learning trajectory that gave Deltares staff the opportunity to discover and practice with new online facilitation methods in online classroom sessions, in addition to providing participants the space to explore theory-oriented content on MDF’s own learning platform.

Now, one year later, twenty staff have completed the programme and next on the agenda is exploring how to organise more effective hybrid learning sessions. This makes it a good moment to reflect on the experience so far…

What made the learning trajectory effective for you?

“The high energy and use of methods for this programme was fantastic”, says Bouke. “The facilitators really showed us by example that online meetings can be fun, and that you can integrate offline methods, such as going for a walk, into your online session too. Seeing them in action motivated us. If they can do it, we can surely do it too!”

What has changed?

“The greatest change is that colleagues now prepare much better for their online sessions. They realise that for online meetings to work, you need to think critically about the how and use methods that suit the limited time you often have online. Colleagues diversify their methods more: they have a greater toolbox to source from. I also observe that colleagues work more together to prepare and deliver effective sessions, and they are having fun while doing it. The effect is that participants are also more engaged: more people are keeping their cameras on, for example.”

What are you proud of?

“I am proud to see the enthusiasm among the colleagues: their confidence has grown! They are ready for more. There is more creativity and attention.”

What remains a challenge?

“Making time for good preparation, especially now that we’re seeing the number of hybrid sessions increase. The complexity increases with more roles to play. To address this, we are organising a hybrid session with MDF in November to learn how to make these hybrid sessions interactive and fun.”

Do you have a tip for others?

“Try to always work in pairs. Do not think about the limitations of online, but in possibilities: explore what online has to offer and remember that almost everything that can be done in-person can also be done online!”

By Lisa Freiburg, Trainer, MDF Training and Consultancy