In meeting the challenges we faced due to the worldwide pandemic, Educate Plus reviewed our offerings to our members. Among the many great member benefits we offer our PD’s, Masterclasses and SIG’s are seen as being of real value. We heard from our members who were struggling as businesses shut down, schools and borders closed and budgets were cut that they needed some up to date, relevant advice and open discussion. As our New Zealand and Australian governments stepped up to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, we decided to do our part to support our members by providing online opportunities for discussion and learning, specifically targeting the items and topics requested by our members.
Global internet usage skyrocketed as staff were forced to work from home and many institutions closed down. Some of the most immediate impacts – remote working, cancellation of events, withdrawal of funding, lack of admissions applications due to an uncertain future – directly affected our members. Some, who were asked to work from home due to the Coronavirus, may have had little to no experience in doing so, or at least not for an extended period of time.
So our engagement strategies needed to change, no face to face attendances at our networking events and special interest groups could occur. Our solution was to move everything online. We offered all our PD and meetings via the Zoom platform. This meant members could log in from the comfort of their own home, or watch the recording of our webinars in their own time.
It didn’t take more than a few days for Zoom to become as synonymous with videoconferencing as Kleenex has become with blowing one’s nose. By the end of March, the platform had reached 200 million daily users, up 1,900% from its previous best of 10 million.
One of the biggest disadvantages not being face to face with coworkers, industry peers and Educate Plus members is the missed opportunity for relationship building. In many ways relationship building is the foundation for trust but virtual meetings and conference calls can be great ways to encourage relationship building in a subtle way. We believe this was achieved through our online elearning experience. Mastering the art of running our virtual meetings and online webinar took some trial and error, but with the patience of our members and excellent presenters we managed to overcome the steep learning curve.
We held 13 online webinars, over 8 SIG’s with over 2200 members and non-members registered to attend. As a result of these events we have also built up an online resource library for our members to dip into and download when they need specific information in relation to the many topics that have been covered. Please check out our testimonial page here. Another advantage was our re-engagement with our remote members who can find it difficult to attend our face to face events.
There is opportunity in a crisis because when things are bad we can still be a force for good. The silver lining we discovered at this difficult time, is that we were able to offer items of worth to our members when they needed support. As a result, we now have a more engaged membership, who despite isolation, have built a strong relationship with Educate Plus.
We will continue to offer online events for the near future. Check out our event page for new webinars and online SIG’s.