Symbol trains online: “We are ready for the future. No matter what”
Many organizations have accelerated digitization because of corona. Similarly, Symbol. Just a few days after Rutte’s speech on the intelligent lockdown, we were able to perform much of our consulting work online as well as conduct several physical training sessions in our calendar virtually.
Meanwhile, much more is possible than just the “standard” online courses. We tell you all about it in this article and also share customer experiences. Because like us, our virtual capabilities allow them to move on. That is the most important thing for us.
“Symbol has picked up online teaching at lightning speed. After the announcement of the first lockdown in March, a proposal was before us within two or three days. I also supervise a large group of BBL graduates, and when I see how long it took their schools to arrange everything online…,” begins Gert Hendriks, Training Coordinator at VDL ETG. Symbol trains VDL ETG’s quality engineers and factory engineers on 8D and core tools. Hendriks: “We had barely finalized the plans for these trainings, and a couple of trainings had just started, when we were forced (mostly) to go online. Did we hesitate? Yes, but we wanted to continue. With Symbol, that was fortunately possible.”
Quality we are used to
Symbol director Dick Theisens: “We indeed wanted customers, such as VDL ETG, to be trained as quickly as possible. So we quickly investigated how we could make our training and (in-company) courses digital. The content was already there of course, we just needed a new form. In a short time we mastered all possible systems, think Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, GoToTraining, StarLeaf and Hangouts. This is to leave the choice with the clients and not impose a system on them. Some clients have their own system, and that too is of course possible. By now, our trainers are completely used to these tools and the new way of working – and so are our clients. After all, they get the quality they are used to from us, only without being in the same room together.”
“The evaluation has remained more or less the same”
The latter confirms Theo Alves, Corporate Expert Lean Six Sigma at DSM. He supervises about sixty colleagues each year who take their Green Belt training at Symbol. “After every training I conduct a survey about the content, the trainer and the material, among other things. To my surprise, I have to say that the evaluation has remained more or less the same now that we are fully online. The quality of the exercises, the level of knowledge of the trainer and the material are all rated well. Symbol has been very helpful in redesigning the agenda of our Green Belt trainings. The daily schedule was adjusted slightly and shortened a bit, because you simply cannot look at a screen all day. To keep people engaged, Microsoft Teams uses break-out rooms (where small groups of participants can work together), dashboards and personal Teams folders. As a result, participants are enthusiastic beyond expectations, although they miss the real contact with colleagues as well as the fun of physical games.”
Workable virtual alternatives to usual training
Like Alves, Jeroen van der Weerdt, MBB at Tata Steel, is also enthusiastic. “Initially, I was fairly reluctant about online training. At first, we within Tata Steel hesitated about postponing the Green Belt and Green to Black Belt training courses we were taking from Symbol. Then we discussed very explicitly with Symbol to just give it a try and evaluate properly after one or two days of training. Should that evaluation not be good, we would stop. But that didn’t happen. Participants found it much better than expected. Consequently, it was extremely well prepared by Symbol and we had to arrange very little ourselves. Symbol quickly offered workable virtual alternatives to their usual training courses, noting that we could still do the games and the (mock) exams physically on location – coronaproof, of course. Those things turned out not to be desirable for us online. But the rest of the training courses participants now take online – and to their satisfaction.”
Good exam results
The first digital training sessions at VDL ETG, DSM, Tata Steel and other customers have now been successfully completed. Theisens: “There is still some limited data available, but the first comparison between the classroom and virtual learning form at a large dairy manufacturer shows that participants who took virtual training for their exam achieved a better result than the group that took the training classically. That’s great, of course!” Van der Weerdt underscores these good results. “Anyone who still has doubts about online training I say: those doubts are unjustified. Yes, we also hesitated, but it only turned out to be better for us. Evaluations with participants are good, as mentioned, and so are the results. The last exam results were no different than normal, so online training is clearly not at the expense of training.”
Exams: online, via proctoring, or physically on site
“Since April, by the way, we have also offered the option of taking the exam online – from one’s own workstation, via proctoring,” Theisens says. Participants will need a computer, using Chrome as a browser, and a camera. Our proctoring system Proctor Exam then ensures that participants cannot cheat. By the way, there are still many people who prefer to take the exam on location, and at our location in Amersfoort you can just do that. Jeroen just told me. So participants choose what they are comfortable with.”
Continued development with games in Miro
Importantly, Symbol’s online education and training programs also continue to evolve. Theisens: “Deliberately, because if you only sit behind the camera you miss the interaction with the other participants. Also, games were always an important element in our classroom training. For this we recently started using Miro: a platform in which participants can work together on an assignment or game. In recent months we have set up about ten different games in this platform, for example the well-known Office Game and the coffee cup game. Participants are extremely enthusiastic about these – you will soon find a separate article about them on symbol.nl. This addition of Miro to our training courses makes us truly unique.”
New: hyflex and hybrid training courses
In recent months, Symbol has also gained experience with so-called hyflex and hybrid training. Theisens: “Hyflex means that some participants follow the training online, while others from the same group participate physically. For the latter, we have set up a room in both Amersfoort and Enschede. Various cameras have been set up in those rooms, including a 180o camera that follows the sound and automatically zooms in on the person speaking. We also work with different screens, to keep the online participants well connected to the group. This hyflex form of training has the important advantage that training, like fully online training, can go on at any time. Even if participants have to be quarantined or measures are tightened. In that case, interaction remains extremely high and participants can still meet each other physically, at a very appropriate distance. For each training day, they indicate what they prefer: online attendance or physical classroom participation. Thanks to this hyflex form of training and our continuous development in Miro, I dare to say: Symbol is ready for the future. No matter what.”
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