Full–Court Press IBAO Education During the Pandemic

Kevin O’Hare—Education Supervisor & Instructional Designer, IBAO

From March 2020 until now, no two weeks have been the same. For a year it seems issues are cropping up from all angles and we’ve had to radically recalibrate how we operate to meet each emerging challenge. In basketball the full-court press is a defensive strategy that puts pressure on the opposition for the entire length of the court. The goal of this tactic is to constantly spoil the offensive team and attack at any sign of a break. It can be an exhausting approach, but rather than just prevention it’s about creating new opportunities. Though this has been a challenging year, we haven’t relented, and we’ve made some gains that we’ll take with us into the future.

The first struggle we faced was not being allowed to permit anyone into our classroom after the first lockdown announcement. We knew many of the learners in our RIBO licensing courses were your future brokers, so that couldn’t last forever. The content is hard and the exam is harder. People needed to access the same quality training but now learners weren’t allowed to travel. We huddled together to strategize how to protect the supply chain of new brokers, which was reconceptualizing and building a whole new hybrid classroom. Learners can stay wherever they are to engage in the class, just like they would if they were sitting side-by-side. There have always been candidates located outside Toronto that faced huge expenses to bring people in for two weeks—this pivot to a hybrid classroom solved both issues at once.

“Though this has been a challenging year, we haven’t relented, and we’ve made some gains that we’ll take with us into the future.”

Then came paper-based exams for CAIB. As you’re aware, we ask exam candidates to write in their brokerage. With the new lockdown rules, we didn’t think this procedure would follow the spirit of the government’s guidance. We consulted with our instructors, discussed options and postponed exams. Over a few meetings with CAIB facilitators we discussed what we could do and set up two things: exam practice classes hosted by each CAIB facilitator one week before the new exam dates, and an online eLearning self-practice course for each level of CAIB. These self-guided eLearning courses were meant to help fill the void created by delayed exams. The live practice classes went over well and now these eLearning CAIB courses are bundled for each Self-Study and Online Discussion Group learner for 2021. Another advantage from a disadvantage.

One of the challenges of full-court press is the difficulty for the team to communicate while spaced out across the entire court. The Education Team—and the rest the of IBAO staff—had to transition from a close knit, chatty group of equals who talk over cubicle walls to working alone, from home. It was the hardest pivot of 2020. Like everyone, we switched to having regular video team meetings and encouraged team members to not over rely on text or email with each other and instead keep talking. As often as we could, we called each other not just to work through issues, but to retain our human connection. While it can be strenuous, full-court press can change the outcome of a game. It’s been a trying year, but thanks to the efforts of the team, we’ve been able to create some unexpected opportunities.

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