From Virtual To RealOct 02, 2020
EMC launches the first online Foundation Course
The first students of the first EMC On-line Foundation Course have just started their floral education with this new and innovative approach, called BLENDED LEARNING. We are all excited and thrilled to see this on-line experience become a reality!
The idea of having an on-line course was already on the EMC agenda before COVID, set as a project for later in the future. As many, we had to reinvent and re-calibrate the way we provide education, to adapt to the changes that occurred in the past months on a global level, severely impacting the local communities as well. Businesses working different, decisions you cannot control impacting you directly, changes occurring too fast, working with a completely different medium, in this case, the digital material - those were some of the challenges we had to face in making this happen. And we were entering a whole new world, that of the digitally provided education.
There are many things in the story to follow that would not have been possible in any other times, under any other circumstances and which resulted in delivering an amazing experience to our students, of which we all are very proud of.
You might ask yourself how this actually works, because it's not really the most obvious choice. Floral design and the on-line do not really seem to fit one another. Flowers are so non-technological... and the work we do with them is a physical work by definition, meaning you actually have to be there and touch the material, see the room, feel the atmosphere. Right?
So, how did EMC make the blended learning concept work?
As many other businesses around the world, EMC had to completely press the break on holding events all over the world. We had 7 Classes planned out for 2020, all over the world, plus an Advance Class in Bruge and many other projects in mind. So we had to adjust our-selves to what the new paradigm we were. Christi and Tomas were the masterminds behind the project. The values of EMC are the same and the process of going online became just a matter of finding the best and most professional solutions to deliver our message.
Basically, blended learning means education delivered with technological input, mixed with live contact and communication with your teacher. Analysing the entire EMC program, they realised there is a lot of potential in adapting it to blended learning concepts. It was already done in the past as well, throughout the Self Practicum, but it was just an option that certainly needed work to implement to its full potential.
Christi started to work her magic around technology and with every step of the process she managed to find her way through this labyrinth of online apps and tools. The amount of work she invested is enormous and very easily measurable in the number of tabs she opens and joggles simultaneously on her computer. She has an amazing entrepreneur mindset and is able to find the best possible ways of managing a situation where, for instance, you have a core team of people that stretch half way around the globe, from East Europe to Hawaii. Not to mention one has to also consider future students that end up covering the other half! There are frameworks that need to be set up, tones of on-line applications that all require huge amount of time to adapt, design and implement so as to give the students the very best possible experience.
Covid also put borders back on the map of the world as we knew it, we became aware of the distance between us and now instead of flying over and meeting in person we switched to Zoom, Slack & Asana as our new "airline" companies. Different times, different means. Christi now had the entire EMC team on board and we knew each of us will put in all the extra effort and all the knowledge to create an amazing digital Foundation Class. There were course books to edit, designs to analyse, coaching the coaching team meetings and lots more to manage.
Every single one of our team members, Sherene, Keith, Jorge, Pattie, Francisca, Rebecca, Jen, Bryan, Diana, Sue, Queenie and Regine, have contributed with time, dedication and energy to this outcome.
Tomas put his mind to work into re-arranging the curriculum so as to fit a new presentation mode, extracting the very essence of the theory for the video lessons. New rules, new medium, new limits became guidelines on HOW to re-write the core material. There are now modules instead of days and your own atelier becomes your classroom workspace. The curriculum of EMC was always adapted, expanded, enhanced with new concepts and new information during the years anyway, and the beauty of it is that it has proven (once more with the on-line approach) that the essence of it remains the same. A rock solid foundation for the future infinite creative designer.
The only live class of 2020 that was not deleted off the EMC calendar was the Foundation Course set out to take place in summer in Romania. We postponed it for two months to give us and the students a little time to regroup after the lock downs in early spring. It was only an obvious choice that we would link the event to developing the practical videos for the on-line foundation class, since we were already preparing a lot of constructions for the demos in the live class. Truth be told, we had no idea of how much effort and work is put into such a large video production. We were anticipating it will take a lot of work, but then again hard work never scares a florist so we dived into it, heads on, focusing on the outcome.
Meanwhile, we never underestimate the power of having fun. There has to be joy in this amazing process of constant learning when facing new challenges!
The logistics behind the scenes and the making off everything that had happened on location were the biggest challenge. It was the first live event we were organising since COVID started. Flexibility was the rule of the game. We had to find solutions for problems that were completely out of our control, like the fact that Tomas' internal flight from Bucharest to the location was postponed 5 times and he ended up arriving on location after a full night on the road, travelling 600 km in a car, through a country that doesn't really have a proper highway system in place. Talk about being fresh on set the next morning!
But any problem has a solution and every decision matters, but if the outcome is the driver of what you do, you get creative and adapt yourself, make choices and act. It's just like EMC says about designing: create with an outcome in mind and go for the most suitable technique and materials. Don't get lost in the details, right?
One of the effects of the pandemic over everything that happened was that every business, no matter how global, had to manage everything, local. And we were no exception. Romania proved to be a great host for shooting the entire video and photo material for the EMC online class, where beginning of August, 2020, when in a normal year everybody would have been on holiday, a small group of dedicated people in what they do made all this possible in just 5 days! 32 different arrangements with intriguing and complex structures were build, florals were being handled in possibly the hottest time of the year in Romania and films were being shot at the same time.
It could not have been possible without our local volunteers, wonderful florists: Maria, Daniel, Ruxandra, Anne and Patricia who came in for 2 days and ended up spending the week with us. Our floral suppliers, Bianca and Dragos who went on and beyond to support all our weird and last minute requests and delivered beautiful materials, including bringing in the beautifully fresh cut roses from Alexandra Farms, our educational partner. Even all the supplies from Smithers Oasis managed to get on location due to a beautiful collaboration on both ends to avoid the very slow national postal services.
The film making crew from Armand Productions, Gratian and Armand, together with Alex, as a photographer turned out to be so much more than just a crew on the job. Their input and advice regarding the final outcome has proven to be so valuable and the team learned a lot from it. The effort put in by the visual team in understanding even the design concepts and then capture in post production the essence of the material was vital and we could feel even from the shooting on set, as the energy among the EMC team and the video & photo crew was so vibrant.
EMC Foundation On-line is a course that already proves successful, as we can see it in our new, first time ever, student and their feedback to it. The entire program, including all the work that was put in it to become what it is today has been done with the STUDENT in mind and we are thrilled to see the excitement in the first group who goes through EMC Foundation, digitally delivered!
So. Le, Mandy, Eunice, Thomas, Robin, Angelica, Marcela, Anna, Michael, Arlene, Ursula, Camilla, Ellie, I Li and Sarah, welcome to EMC! Enjoy the experience!
Photo credits: Alex Mateiu
Edited by: Diana Toma, EMC
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