The COVID-19 crisis has upended education around the world, not just for students in school, but also for those seeking professional development opportunities. Virtual learning was the norm over the spring and summer, and may be widespread for the foreseeable future.
NAHB Education adapted quickly to this shifting landscape and began offering its intensive, full-day designation courses — such as those for the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) professional designation — on a virtual platform. The courses are commonly offered through HBAs.
The transition has been a success for students, instructors and the HBAs offering the courses.
The Roanoke Regional HBA has already offered CAPS courses twice this year, with plans to offer at least two more sessions.
"The response we have received from the virtual course is much greater than for our live, in-person courses," said Amy Lowman, executive officer at the Roanoke Regional HBA.
Lowman noted that the virtual versions of the course attracted participants from a much wider geographical area than the live courses. When the courses are held in person, participants that live more than an hour away typically need a place to stay, adding a potential barrier to attendance.
But engaging in the learning from their home or office is a much more attractive proposition for many.
"Feedback we have received from participants has been overwhelmingly positive," noted Lowman.
Instructors have also adapted to the new learning environments. Chris Moore, CAPS, CGR, the CAPS course instructor for the Roanoke Regional HBA, said there was a learning curve for the virtual classes, as some aspects of the live sessions had to be altered for a digital platform.
For example, Moore typically brings props like wheelchairs and walkers into CAPS classes to demonstrate the need for universal design. But now that the course is online, he has shifted to using cognitive impairment exercises and other techniques in his demonstrations.
"When people are in a room together, it's easy to read reactions and facilitate conversation," said Moore. "But as I've learned more about Zoom, we've adapted to using their breakout rooms and other features." Moore and Lowman commended the NAHB Education staff for their efforts in making the transition easy on HBAs and instructors. And Lowman noted that the courses can be used in HBA recruitment and retention efforts.
For more information, email Rusty Deiss.