Like everyone, we slid into a major learning curve in March 2020 – cancelling events and training courses, enabling everyone to work from home, taking precautions to prevent infection among teams, trainers and participants. In taking care of one another, we might meet every morning for ten minutes on ZOOM.
Do online formats also represent the new form for our offers of continuing education? Should we convert all AHA offers and move as many as possible directly into e-learning, ‘teach yourself’ formats? During the spring and summer, we undertook many trials. New tools were trialled within the team; together with our trainers, new methods were explored, needs and requirements were determined in liaison with our training partners and clients. It soon became clear that development and change processes involving people and organisations require contact and meeting. Some things also work online; above all, we are becoming more flexible in terms of time and can bridge distances more easily. At the same time, it is face-to-face meeting and informal exchanges that enable an overall perception of another person and oneself.
Under the motto “we can also do it online“, we have worked with clients and partners over the past twelve months to address upcoming topics and needs and tried out many innovations, especially in summer 2020.
- From autumn 2020, we expected b|u|s-Training courses from Flensburg to Tyrol to run again, ideally face-to-face or else online. The lockdown from December onwards caused almost all face-to-face events in this country to be cancelled and appointments were postponed to better times rather than being held online.
- For the 46th TOP course in 2021, a sophisticated hygiene concept would have prevented the risk of infection with a course group being physically isolated from the outside world. But the authorities (understandably) did not want to allow for any exceptions. As a result, the 46th TOP course in 2021 will exceptionally take place as a Summer Edition for 4½ weeks in September.
- Dialogue activities in Berlin on rural development topics have run into clear complications without being able to meet. However, (pre-)political processes continue and the involvement of protagonists from rural areas is more important today than ever.
- Only a few trips to visit our partners in Africa and India were possible. However, cooperation could continue with greater intensity on an online basis. Farmers’ organisations there were in great demand during the crisis. Many were able to adapt quickly and provide their members with basic services with AHA support. In addition, many trainers and multipliers had qualified on site in recent years, so numerous training sessions and workshops could be carried out independently or with online trainers connecting from Europe.
Financially, cancelled training courses and events have resulted in a gap in 2020. With online formats, many expect cost savings; the reality is quite different: investment in preparation and support is actually greater than with face-to-face. However, the Andreas Hermes Akademie is financially stable due to its greater diversification of activities and various project grants. The AHA’s financial autonomy and its independent content have turned out to be a major advantage. We have been able to trial solutions together with customers and partners and gain experience that allows us to look forward to 2021 with optimism and confidence.
We thank you all for your trust and curiosity. We look forward to talking with you on the phone and via video – and hopefully again soon over a cool drink.
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