Due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), 2020 has been an unusual one for the Learn with Aegis project team; in particular, as nearly all of our learners and members continue to work from home. That said, our team are well-placed for the ever-changing faces of the businesses we support, and we will explain why.
We believe that learning during this tricky time provides structure and focus to the days and weeks, helping learners to manage their mental health and wellbeing. We have continued to encourage everyone to keep learning during lockdown, now and in the future with the help of all the resources we have compiled.
As a team we have put together a myriad of innovative ways to reach our learners; for example, we have stepped up our learner contact through the monthly flyers via email and social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). In some months we have issued mid-month flyers to support timely events and promotions.
Our social media is updated daily, and we are posting about courses with greater reach and engagement than we have ever had before. We made this change very early into the Covid-19 pandemic and we feel the benefits of revamping our social media have been amazing! We also endeavour to make our monthly flyers, website and social media tie into our priority subjects.
The team put together two VideoScribes to, first, promote our project and, second, successfully recruit new ULRs. We also updated our support material to help any potential new recruits. In our view, there has never been a better time to get involved with the Learn with Aegis project, given its success and the desire of the businesses we support for employees to be proactive and self-develop.
We have also looked at what our learners would like to learn at this time and have provided them with the tools they need, as well as fun items to learn at home with their children, particularly during lockdown when the children were off school.
We are constantly evolving and adapting to the environment in which we find ourselves; we do this by looking at various platforms and new ways of working, with the aim to get our learning message across to as wide an audience as possible. We believe that all the aforementioned platforms we use work well and are reflective of our overall project outcomes. Our adaptation also includes the way in which we communicate with each other (not forgetting our own mental health and wellbeing!) and our ULRs.
For example, we set up a WhatsApp group to enable us to keep in contact with our ULR community, which has proved especially useful during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as being a sounding board for best practice, it has also ensured that the ULRs are fully supported by the project team, as well as ensuring their wellbeing during these difficult times. For us Project Workers, we regularly catch up (at least twice a week) on webcam via Teams. These calls are usually where we come up with our best and most successful ideas!
Speaking of those ideas, as a team we, constantly discuss future campaigns as well as reviewing the success of previous ones. We are, for example, actively promoting a variety of themed events, throughout the month of October, to tie in with Learning at Work Week.
We have also looked into all our current resources and decided on how best we can improve our current online courses provision by providing support for all of our learners. For example, there has always been a high demand for digital skills, however, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand has become even more apparent.
The team attended a unionlearn webinar on Mindfulness, hosted by Project Officer Matt Pointon over the summer and it couldn’t have fallen at a better time; in difficult times, it felt like it was an opportunity to switch off, reset and reduce stress.
Following on from the webinar, we decided that it would be beneficial if more of our learners could have access to Mindfulness resources; so we asked Matt to run another session as part of a series of Wellbeing Webinars that we were running for Learning at Work Week, including Relaxation and Menopause in the Workplace webinars exclusively for the Aegis project. We then produced a Mindfulness Activity Book as a promotional item and additional resource to support wellbeing as part of this campaign. This book included adult zen colouring, doodles and puzzles and is all about rediscovering your childhood love of these creative activities, as research shows this can promote wellbeing by relaxing and calming. Feedback so far is that the book is a positive tool that supports mental health.
As employees of the financial services sector use computers on a daily basis, we have benefitted from our learners already having ICT skills in place and, in turn, wishing to actively self-develop both during lockdown and at present. That said, we also believe that our vast and varied provision of learning opportunities are hitting the correct chord, thus, we see the level of engagement in these priority outcomes reflecting in our overall figures.