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Are you hungry and thirsty for knowledge? Is life-long learning a top priority for you?

Being able to design, deliver and facilitate relevant, practical, quality knowledge on how to be more innovative, entrepreneurial, and service-oriented is our core business at The Idea Center. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as most higher education institutions did, we had to adapt and “practice what we preach” about pragmatic action and strategic flexibility at work, in the classroom, and in life. In supporting individuals who desire to turn their ideas into action, we, too, have encountered challenges along the way. These obstacles, however, have not stopped us from doing what we are most passionate about – collaborating with students, facilitators, and team members to bring the best virtual experiences to our community this year and into 2021.

Digital Transformation and Adaptation

Yes! Even though we are an innovative hub, we also had challenges adopting the different tools and technologies required for remote working and teaching and within such a tight timeline.  

Upskilling, reskilling and countless hours of new learning development opportunities – as a team, we have intentionally designed and encouraged a culture of learning and experimentation. Opening up the conversation and offering resources of time and money to assist team members in enrolling in professional development opportunities helped us test different approaches to achieve our goals. From digital marketing to project management, from specific communication and class management tools to design thinking and mindfulness practices, our team has embraced the challenge, leveraged new tools and learning, and supported each other in the process. 

Today, each member of the team is ready and prepared to support any student before, during and after each program through any of the platforms that we use to communicate, register and manage our content. 

Online Learning Solution

Ehh! Which solution? Implementing remote learning seemingly overnight made two things quite clear: there is no perfect solution to online learning and the inequities tied to digital inclusion and economic gaps are very real.

To facilitate an in-person session, you need to manage participant expectations and get feedback from the energy in the room. To manage a session online, you need to be mindful of numerous things you didn’t even know existed before. From course design and delivery, to maximizing engagement with the students, to the accessibility component for students that lack the appropriate space, equipment and internet connection at home – all of these factors significantly impact the learning experience and its effectiveness. 

Throughout the last semester we collected feedback from our students and facilitators to make online learning a pleasant and effective experience. We now include time at the beginning and at the end of each session for reflection so students can share their excitement about what they are learning and how they would use this knowledge in real life. We record our sessions so that they can come back later to review sections of the class if and when needed, and we complement the classes with office hours so participants can benefit from one-on-one sessions with instructors for feedback.

Emotional Steadiness and Support

We know this year has been a roller coaster. As we experienced a sudden and unexpected transition to a remote learning and working environment, we also had more time to be with ourselves and our loved ones. For some, this meant more time with the family (or maybe too much time with the family). For others, it meant solitude and isolation. 

Instead of avoiding the topic, we opened up the space for our team and our students to talk about our feelings and emotions. We added several workshops on mindfulness meditation, yoga and self-care. At times, we recognized our community felt overwhelmed and so we pulled back from offering more online programming. At other times, we provided opportunities to learn and get inspired from our lineup of changemakers and innovators that are currently making an impact in our community while also adapting to the new normal. Throughout it all, we committed to stand by when you needed us and we will continue to do that in 2021.   

The Idea Center will remain the place where you can dream, come up with ideas, turn them into action and engage with innovators and changemakers to build your tribe. Let’s continue to make our home and our reality a reflection of the best version of ourselves. 

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