‘ZOOM summer school’ a hit with members

FVREB’s Education Department was one of the fastest, most adaptive in the province when the pandemic hit. The Board shut down on March 16 and we launched virtual classes the next day. Yowza!

We know the importance of your continuing education and the ability to earn PDP hours. 

How have members responded to ‘virtual school’ particularly during June and July when the market has been so busy? And, what’s in store for this fall?

Through Microsoft Teams, we caught up with Denise Harris, our fearless education leader and longest-serving employee at the Board. No one knows it better!

Q: Before we talk about members enjoying ‘ZOOM’ school, there’s a key change on October 1st with Legal Update that members already know, but it’s important to remind them. What do they need to know and why is it important for them to know now at the beginning of August?

A: Effective October 1st, Council will take over the administration and moderating of Legal Update. As you know, we’ve been hosting and moderating Legal Update on Council’s behalf since it was announced that they were taking the course over. And then this summer, they announced that they would be taking full responsibility of all their relicensing courses starting this fall.

This means we will no longer be publishing ZOOM webinar dates for Legal Update on our TLC course calendar. This is a big change. Members will need to go directly to Council’s website to register for it and all other courses required by Council for relicensing.

The reason we wanted to remind members now is because Legal Update is a blended-learning course – a combination of three weeks of self-paced work followed by a full day course – so, for those interested in signing up for an October Legal Update, they need time to complete their pre-course work.

Q: Speaking of ZOOM, five months ago, you spearheaded our Board’s move to virtual-learning very fast, what were the biggest challenges?

A: Actually, we were very impressed with how quickly our members adapted to the online environment.

The ZOOM platform had a few issues initially due to the vast number of companies all doing the same thing at the same time – transitioning online. On a couple of occasions, we had students in two virtual locations, even though they were clicking on the same course link. ZOOM made some quick fixes and it runs pretty smoothly now.

What’s amazing is how instructors can simulate most of the in-class course activities in our new virtual world with the same skill and effectiveness as in class.

One area that continues to be a struggle is members who have a poor internet connection and drop off a course and then sometimes must repeatedly sign back in. We would encourage members to first make sure they have a strong as possible internet connection and ensure their device is fully charged or better yet, keep it plugged in for the duration of the course.

Q: How did members initially respond to Zoom classes? What kind of feedback have you received?

A: The overwhelming feedback has been gratitude. Members are grateful that they can continue their education through an online environment. And our Abbotsford and Mission members really enjoy not having to battle traffic, but everyone apparently misses our lunches. Some ask, tongue in cheek, if we will deliver it to them through Uber Eats.

Members also say they do miss the face-to-face interaction that comes with in-person courses. Although ZOOM offers webcams, mics, chat and breakout rooms, there is still something about live, face-to-face interaction with the instructor and your colleagues that is just not the same online.

It’s important to also mention that members often note in their course feedback that they really appreciate instructors who stay long after the webinar ends to take questions from members. That’s above and beyond and appreciated.

Q: We’ve seen some hilarious situations with online education on YouTube, did our members experience any of those moments?

A: Absolutely. We’ve had our fair share of funny situations. One of our instructors was learning how to use the breakout rooms and instead of closing the rooms, he clicked on the “End Meeting” button and everyone disappeared including the instructor, myself, and all participants. Members were logging back in and apologizing for their dodgy internet, which wasn’t what happened at all.

On another occasion, we had a member who was participating on her iPhone. She thought her webcam and microphone were turned off, but they were not, and the class started hearing a cow mooing quite loudly and the instructor was asking aloud, “Why are we hearing a cow?” Glancing at the participants we all got to see a member in her barn tending to a big black and white cow. That was a “holy cow” moment for sure!

This might be an opportune time to remind members that in order to get the most value out of a webinar, we highly recommend you be in a stationary space at your home or office with no background noise and/or distractions. Due to safety and engagement concerns, driving while doing the course is strictly prohibited. If you want to sit in Tim Horton’s parking lot, by all means go ahead. That’s the beauty of virtual education, you can join using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Q: What have been FVREB members’ most popular courses this summer? Why?

A: We’ve been getting good attendance for most of our courses. Three, which continue to be very popular both in-class and now via webinar, are “Introduction to Project Marketing”, “Strata Fundamentals” and “Assignments of Contracts of Purchase and Sale”.

“Strata Fundamentals”, has really taken off due to what we’re seeing in the market right now; the vast, continual growth in sales of Fraser Valley condos/townhouses because of their affordability.

Q: What can members expect for their education this fall? Still Zoom? Any new courses? 

A: We continue to monitor and respect COVID regulations. It appears that we will be running courses via ZOOM at least until the end of the 2020, perhaps into 2021. I’m excited about a couple of new PDP courses we’re anticipating will launch this fall, so stay tuned for more details!