How success in an online future will require even more focus on communication skills.
By Debate Mate
If we cannot do business and educate in-person due to coronavirus, we must do these things online. Professionals, students and teachers that communicate well online will thrive; those that don’t adapt may stall. However, lockdowns globally have only accelerated a trend that started long before coronavirus shut down entire countries, and may dominate long after. Now, more than ever before, individuals must feel confident communicating effectively online.
At Debate Mate we believe a strong communication culture is key in business and education. Teams operating online should communicate work streams concisely; encourage constructive challenging and dialogue; create opportunities for workers or students to communicate virtually; replicate high standards of in-person communication, remotely; and provide opportunities for learning and development. A tall, but eminently achievable order.
The physical layout of workplaces and classrooms has long been relied on to foster collaboration. Offices changed from cubicle farms to open-plan workspaces with the advent of companies like WeWork. Schools progressed from linear desk arrangements, to horseshoe desk arrangements with open spaces to encourage contributions in class. Recently, agile working policies and dialogic learning are helping employers and schools get the best out of people.
Now, business and education have moved online, and communication skills have taken centre stage to nurture strong teams: Zoom Video’s share price has gone from under $70 in January to $122 a share in early April 2020. Today students are tutored over Zoom Video remotely. Professionals are sending communications over Slack. People everywhere have adopted new technologies in droves — video conferencing apps enjoyed their biggest week ever with over 62 million downloads in the third week of March.
At Debate Mate we believe people everywhere can embrace these changes in two ways. Firstly, professionals must understand online communication requires even more; clarity, no getting messages in a mess over Messenger; concision, no time for waffling over WhatsApp; and engagement, make sure you motivate your people and they avoid the temptation to slack. Our virtual debates and online communication training provide professionals with a model for effective online communication and opportunities for professional development respectively.
Secondly in education, virtual classrooms should retain interactivity. Schools should find ways of bringing students together to mimic the collaborative learning ethos of the physical class environment. We should ensure the online experience upholds the high standards of communication that we achieve face to face. For this, at Debate Mate we are creating opportunities for 6000 students to connect in learning environments with virtual debate clubs, e-learning short courses, and one to one tutoring.
Tomorrow’s most successful professionals and students are mastering key digital communication skills in preparation for a new normal learning environment. It’s still too soon to say what the workplace and classroom will look like long after coronavirus. However, quarantine has encouraged millions to embrace digital tools and build their online communication skills. For the learning environment there may be no going back, and for workers and students of the future communication offline, and online, will be key.
Debate Mate will be hosting a live debate on Wednesday 13th May as part of the online EdTechX Summit. The will be debating: ‘How does the Digital Transformation Implemented in Estonia Contribute to Global Education?”