Believe it or not, it’s now been over a year since we first started offering health & safety training over Zoom. Having been so successful as a classroom training and consultancy provider, the first lockdown back in March 2020 forced us to rapidly adapt our business. That – along with the co-operation of bodies such as NEBOSH – led us to test the water with remote learning courses, and see what the demand was like.

It’s fair to say that this pivot to online courses was a success. Many of our Zoom courses are now even more popular than our classroom variants were, not least because they are accessible to so many more people. But we’re also at a crossroads. One year on from our last post about remote learning being the future, it very much feels like the present – but it’s also something that could be taken away at any moment.

A virtual lifeline

When we wrote our first post about the future of health & safety training, we were optimistic about how things would progress. By that point we had gotten into the swing of things, and our remote learning courses were starting to gain some traction. Starting by reaching out to people on LinkedIn, we soon realised that, if the predictions about the coronavirus were true, we’d need a more permanent solution.

This was when we really began to reshape our website around remote learning. Expanding to new courses whenever the certifying bodies made them available to teach online, we started to build a calendar of new course dates. By changing our classroom course pages to focus on remote learning, we managed to steal a march on many of our competitors. A year on, we’re in a dominant position across the UK for many of our key courses.

Even before the pandemic, we’d been interested in remote learning, but there was no flexibility to teach most of our courses online. When the pandemic forced a change of approach, we confirmed what we’d already suspected: that many (though not all) people were comfortable learning online via Zoom, particularly given the circumstances of the pandemic.

Meeting demand

What was less clear a year ago was whether people would continue to book remote learning courses when the option of returning to classrooms came back. While we’re still not completely out of the woods when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, we have resumed classroom courses. Yet our remote learning courses are if anything growing, and we’re offering more dates and more course types than ever.

As the pandemic progressed, more and more people found themselves using Zoom and other tools as a way to communicate with friends and family, and to work from home. As working remotely became normalised, training remotely likely seemed less alien. A recent survey of our remote learners confirmed that they are overwhelmingly comfortable with the format, and in many cases prefer it to the traditional classroom environment.

Remote learning has obvious benefits over classroom learning when it comes to the coronavirus, with no danger of being infected on site or en route. But the convenience of being able to learn from home also means that more people can access a course than could travel to our premises, whether that’s because they live in Liverpool or they have issues with anxiety. The comfort of learning from home can make a big difference to many people, and help them to learn more effectively.

Preserving progress

There are still unique advantages to classroom training, however, and it remains at the core of what we do here at SAMS. For those people who can attend and are comfortable doing so, classroom learning is a fun and interactive experience, with far fewer technical issues! Our goal has never been to replace classroom training – but we knew that if we only did classroom training, our reach would always be limited. Remote learning has allowed us to channel our experience with regular e-Learning into growing SAMS as a company.

The question in 2021 isn’t whether remote learning is viable, or whether people want it, but whether we can continue to operate it. While some certifying bodies have stated that they intend to continue supporting virtual courses, others have been more noncommittal. We feel that our role now is to rally the many hundreds of learners we’ve helped over Zoom, and prove that there is a demand for remote learning beyond the pandemic.

SAMS and other Gold Learning Providers up and down the country have already demonstrated that the demanding standards of NEBOSH can be maintained even remotely. And fewer people travelling – not to mention fewer paper print-outs – is also better for the environment. Remote learning will never be the only form of health & safety training, and for at least some courses it never should be. But our experiences are clear: virtual courses work, they’re popular, and they should be here to stay.

SAMS is committed to providing remote learning courses well into the future, and we’re constantly challenging ourselves to provide the highest standard of training. Visit our Courses page to view all of the qualifications we offer, and book your place today.