Now, I've been on quite a few Zoom meetings over the last 3 years. It's proved to be very handy when dealing with the global pandemic and it certainly helped to reduce travel costs, especially when that travel might otherwise be overseas. However, there's a certain detachment to the whole process that I just can't deal with.
Some people switch off their camera. Most switch off their audio. Some forget they're on camera. Others have a conversation off mute. Many do other stuff halfway through. A few switch off and never come back (at this point I should mention I'm not always the host, so it's not that!)
There's just something about it that makes me wonder how effective video calling actually is.
In response to the pandemic the UK body responsible for Driver CPC introduced the option for training providers to deliver their courses remotely. This seemed to be great news; it meant drivers could continue their professional development without needing to sit in a classroom, where they'd be preoccupied with the notion that they might get the dreaded lurgy.
It was so successful in fact that, following a consultation, the UK body decided to keep remote learning as a permanent option and as a result many training providers closed the classroom door for good, preferring to deliver entirely online.
But is it a good thing? Drivers seem to enjoy the opportunity to talk on a one to one with their peers or to interact in a lively debate or discussion; two things that remote learning cannot offer.
In a face to face environment the training instructor can 'read' the room and gauge whether drivers understand the content, whereas the sterile environment of a video call makes that almost impossible.
Many drivers are reluctant to 'raise their hand' on Zoom but they feel slightly more confident doing it in a classroom because they're surrounding by like-minded people asking similar questions.
There's clearly a benefit to video calling, but only with the right objectives and the right audience. I fear that by moving Driver CPC online the experience will be diluted and devalued even more than it already is, and it's why we want to move in the other direction.
Rather than distance learning, we want to encourage immersive learning. Rather than staring at a screen we want drivers to be together, to interact and to enjoy the learning experience.
It's why we're working with anet360 to further develop the concept of classroom learning, to deliver course material that training providers can deliver with confidence, using technology that includes smartphone-based VR headsets and an interactive app, eye tracking for a different perspective and drone footage for a different view.
Our plan is to combine the classic classroom environment with cutting edge tech to reduce the chance of boredom and to lift the spirit. Immersive learning in comfort, without death by PowerPoint or injury riding a bike.
To experience what I'm talking about, why not come along to Truck Fest SW on the 3rd and 4th September and track us down?! Pull up a chair, I'll get the coffee on and we'll show you what we think is the next step towards professional driver development.