Hybrid Future of Training Conference

On Saturday 13th November 2021 I was lucky enough to find myself in person at IH London to attend their hybrid Future of Training conference. If I had to sum up the conference in one word it would be ‘inclusion’. Even just the fact that there were 40 of us attending face-to-face, and 140 who joined online, along with about 30 speakers throughout the day meant it felt very inclusive. Added to this, the themes of several of the talks brought to light the way that teacher trainers have managed to continue to include a wide range of teachers in the times of Covid, and how we as trainers can keep on reaching not only those that we would have previously, but how the advances and changes in attitudes to the use of technology can enable us to include even more teachers in CPD now than ever before.

The conference was opened with a few words from Mark Rendell (IH London) and David Charmaud (Cambridge Assessment English), and then experienced writer and trainer Chia Suan Chong’s Interpersonal Skills for Better Communication introduction set the tone for the day. She focussed on elements of building trust and integrating communication skills, and how there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to building rapport. As trainers we need to be culturally aware of what is appropriate in different contexts, and ensure we make everybody feel included.

Katja at the ConferenceAfter this it was into the meat of the day, with the presenters divided into 4 strands (Training in Diverse Contexts, Aspects of Training, Modes of Delivery and Different Angles) and they each had a 45 minute slot for their talk. It was a difficult choice to select only one speaker in each time slot, but I did my best to get a good range of variety throughout the day.

The online and face-to-face elements of the conference were managed flawlessly with those joining on zoom able to communicate via the chat and breakout rooms used to good effect in several talks. A round of applause must go to the organizers and technical support team who managed to keep four rooms of physical people in synch with online participants all over the world! Other participants agreed with me:

First time I've seen a conference so closely match its theme! Really did feel like the Future of Training was what we were talking about and experiencing. It was great being able to attend it at the same time as colleagues around the world who couldn't make it to London.

The Zoom element made things easier in terms of collaboration with colleagues from all over the world (I collaborated with a teacher from Brazil who said that it simply wouldn't be possible to do the in person version) The highlights were the quality of the talks, the organisation, the mixed f2f and online format. I was worried I’d feel like I was missing out a bit by attending online but I didn’t end up feeling that way.

At the end of the day we had three plenary sessions and then final closing comments from Adrian Underhill. He commented that discontinuity leads to evolution, but that our core values remain the same, and these are what must lead our decisions and actions. Developing the Interpersonal Skills that Chia spoke about at the beginning of the day allows us to better understand others’ core values. He left us with some poignant questions - Who has the power? How can we share it and empower those without? In my mind, continuing to use technology to enable inclusion is a key way to shift the power balance to those who don’t have it as yet, and really should.

You can see the event page here: https://www.ihlondon.com/the-future-of-training-online-conference-2021

Written by Katja Preston - IHWO Online Teacher Training Institute Coordinator