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Crisis Breeds Innovation 
Brett Boadway—Chief Operating Officer, IBAO
Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario
1 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700
Toronto, ON M4P 3A1
416.488.7422 | 800.268.8845
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Copyright © 2020 by Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
We quickly moved to a virtual classroom solution using Zoom. While this provided an acceptable solution on day one, we knew we could do better.
The term essential service took on a whole new meaning during the pandemic. For each of our businesses, we had to assess which of our own services were essential as the world quickly changed. IBAO’s education arm was one for us: important to our members, to the talent we recruit, to the profession and to the financial health of our association.

In March we faced a few immediate issues:
  • Classroom style learning was no longer an option
  • There was a large, passionate market for our courses and services that wasn’t being served
  • There was a diminished appetite to come downtown Toronto from members living outside the GTA
In June, our Board of Directors approved a proposal to convert our classroom space into a hybrid classroom/live broadcast studio. A true AV–enabled education space. The idea behind it is simple: students choose to attend classes in–person or join remotely due to travel restrictions, ill health, personal commitments or just plain inconvenience. Participants seamlessly interact with each other, take part in the same polls and use the same whiteboard. Face-to-face or face-to-screen. Same instructor, same instruction. The investment greatly enhances our education services not only for our members but for all future brokers that come through the IBAO. We’ll be able to broaden our reach with geography eliminated as a factor—from Thunder Bay to Ottawa to Windsor, the opportunities are more accessible for all.
Along with our hybrid classroom are a few components that heighten the experience. 
  • eBooks—students have the option to purchase a hardcopy textbook, a digital textbook or both depending on their learning preference. 
  • Learning Tools—from group polls to breakout groups to virtual office hours with our facilitators, the goal is to avoid hosting
    and help our remote students feel that they’re part of the class with plenty of opportunity to connect with others.
  • Online Exams—a crucial component for students joining remotely and an option for those in–person. This is truly about customizing the learning experience.
By happy coincidence, in 2019 we embarked on a project to rewrite the RIBO Level 1 textbook. A total overhaul from contemporary content to style to priority of information. Esteemed authors joined the effort—an IBAO Past President, three of the best broker educators and an editor for final polish. The new textbook will launch alongside our hybrid classroom experience this fall and will maximize overlap between what instructors teach, new textbook content and an accurate representation of what an insurance broker is expected to know day one on the job.   The pandemic has shown us how crisis can breed innovation and opportunity. Our new education solutions and investments now seem so obvious we wonder why we didn’t move on them sooner—perhaps you’ve had a similar revelation at your brokerage. I’m looking forward to using today’s innovations for years to come.
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