It’s been several months now since we’ve all had to adjust our program delivery methods/models and to some extent our content. The COVID-19 pandemic has given all of us terrific opportunities to become more creative from a technology perspective. Some of us have even taken on additional technological responsibilities to assist with delivering programs; not something any of us would have anticipated.
With all of our programs in a virtual environment, technology, we know is not perfect. A number of factors can affect the outcome of the final product; internet bandwidth, audio/sound quality and speaker technology knowledge are just some examples.
I wanted to take some time to share with you what we have been doing in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) and some of the challenges that we are facing.
The availability of accessibility services such as closed captioning is limited with the legal system moving to a virtual platform for the most part and requesting reporter services is a challenge. For one of the LSO CPD’s recent programs, I had to go through several different vendors to try and secure closed captioning services for a program despite several weeks notice; usually, I’m able to secure a Captionist on the first request.
At the LSO CPD, we are very fortunate to have our own Production Services Team. We have relied heavily on the Zoom platform to connect all of our speakers on the backend of our webcasts; in turn, the Zoom feed is sent to our webcast system – Freestone. For the most part, our programs are delivered via live webcast with our speakers presenting from their home/office. There have been some programs where we have hosted speakers in our event space as well. In those cases, a lot of social distancing measures have been implemented to keep staff and speakers safe. A lot of being aware of public health recommendations in process document creation on my part, but it has proven to be somewhat of a success to date.
Our Production Services Team has been able to ensure all faculty are able to see and hear each other during a program; at the same time, our faculty is able to hear the entire program while connected to Zoom. We do this by using several Zoom Rooms at the same time for each program.
We work with a webcast provider who has been able to help us with our webcast program delivery models and higher than normal virtual attendance numbers. This partnership has allowed us the capability to be creative and innovative, and at the same time, we have been able to live broadcast all of our Fall programs. During our Winter/Spring season, the majority of our programs were rescheduled or shifted to a pre-recorded format, which presented challenges in itself.
A lot of the magic happens behind the scenes from our Production Services Team who makes all the speaker transitions appear seamless from a technology perspective, the end result looks fantastic on the viewer side. At the same time, my Program Delivery Team who is used to having in-person programs has had to adjust and change their processes. They are now “Zoom Room Hopping” to check-in speakers. Not an easy task as some of our programs have over 20 speakers.
As I write this, LSO CPD has successfully completed 3 full-day programs virtually with all faculty being completely remote with positive feedback from speakers and attendees.
It’s a huge team effort to be able to deliver the programs our members and customers look forward to, more so now that ever. We continue to improve our processes, but look ahead to future programs that will have additional elements as part of the program. For example, our annual Solo and Small Conference, has traditionally had a lot of in-person perks — professional headshots, networking, and exhibit hall on top of the content. We are starting to turn our heads to try to figure out how we can replicate the same experience in a virtual world for them. We’re several months away from the program, but as planners/programmers, we know the earlier you start to plan, the better the end result will be.
It hasn’t been easy to plan and deliver programs in a virtual world, using a hybrid model, but we are all in this for the long haul. I have attended several SIG calls and the sharing of ideas, frustrations, and best practices has been extremely helpful. Always remember, ACLEA members are in this together and we are not alone!
Stay safe everyone, reach out to each other, and keep up the great work you’ve all be doing!