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VOLUME 20 | ISSUE 3
Pivoting to Virtual Learning and What’s to Come 
Erin Hough—Membership Coordinator, IBAO
VOLUME 20 | ISSUE 3
Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario
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Students are still able to benefit from an interactive and hands-on learning experience from their own home and have provided lots of positive feedback. “This course and facilitator really helped break down the material into much more manageable, need-to-know facts and concepts. After seeing the huge textbook, I was scared, but it was simplified for us,” one virtual learner shared.

Given the success of this format, we’ve launching a brand-new hybrid course that allows individuals to select whether they want to learn in-class or virtually. Students are also able to choose if they’d like a hardcopy textbook, an ebook, or both, and whether they prefer to write the exam in-person or online. This new format—called Broker Launchpad—is customizable to the student’s individual needs and learning styles. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this quick transition to a new format if it weren’t for our facilitators and willing students.
  • Source out a quiet room with minimal distractions—put your phone away and make sure your laptop has a webcam and secure internet connection. 
  • Take charge of your learning—this format requires more self-discipline. Don’t try to multitask and miss important learning by scrolling through emails or social media. 
  • Start your RIBO application before the class starts—have it completed and sent in at the beginning so you can write your exam as close to the end of the course as possible to retain what you’ve learned as best you can.
When the global pandemic struck, alongside every other business, we had to make some quick changes to ensure we maintained safe and effective training for hopeful brokers joining the industry.  Pre pandemic, our most popular course for preparing to write RIBO’s licensing exam was our Two-Week Prep Course, which was offered in-person at our Toronto office location. But when everything moved remote, we had to follow suit. Our much-loved RIBO facilitators Michael Carberry and Lyall Bell had to make the transition with us to offer the same or similar interactive and engaging learning experience from home. But the transition didn’t come without hesitation. “At first I thought it would be difficult, but after our first beta session I realized it was more my lack of confidence in this new medium I’m not familiar with,” said Lyall, who’s been teaching RIBO licensing for almost 18 years. “Since that day, I’ve clocked around 270 hours of virtual facilitating for both IBAO and my private clients. It’s a fun and exciting new way of doing what I love.” Of course, the technology itself is a learning curve for everyone, let alone adapting teaching styles. “We spent several hours over a few days practicing openings, Dropbox manipulation and working on the interplay with students,” said Michael, who is an IBAO Past President and has been teaching RIBO licensing for 12 years. “When it came time to start the course, I was confident we could sort through any problems in a timely manner.”  The benefit for both students and brokerages enrolling staff in virtual courses is a huge reduction in travel and accommodations if they’re from out of town. Zero commuting time is another benefit. “Eliminating the time and anxiety some students experience travelling to and from class, and then having to transition into study mode is a lot smoother this way. Individuals juggling family, the course and study time are able to easily take care of family relationships, and I think it makes for a better study environment,” Michael explained.  There was concern that the interpersonal relationships students develop over those two weeks in class wouldn’t translate to virtual. But both facilitators agreed these bonds are still created between students even though they aren’t face-to-face. “We run breakout rooms in Zoom that allow us to break the class into groups for smaller discussions, which seems to be successful,” said Michael.  “Many participants are creating group chats on alternative platforms like Facebook to study and connect with one another outside class hours,” Lyall added.

Michael and Lyall shared a few tips for students in this new style of learning:
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