Embracing change – a personal reflection on the journey from classroom to E-learning
Manager for Industry Capacity Building and Communication
The Covid-19 health crisis halted the bulk of classroom training worldwide, and PASA’s training programmes were no exception. Leticia Mentz, Pasa’s Manager for Industry Capacity Building and Communication shares her viewpoint on PASA’s seamless transformation to E-Learning.
There was excitement about 2020 and the opportunities it would afford us to reshape our training offerings. Until then, we had been running the PASA Certificate in Foundational Payments for 8 years, the Advanced Certificate in High Value Payments for 2 years and several bespoke executive training sessions. By the end of 2019, over 2,500 learners graduated from the PASA training programmes, with 65% represented banks and 35% non-banks participants.
Encouraged by the SARB’s Vision 2025 goal of enhancing human resource capacity in the national payment system we unequivocally knew that:
The need for formalised and structured training programmes in the payments environment was real and growing every dayThere was an increased desire from non-bank stakeholders to enhance their understanding of payment systems at a macro level
Experienced payment experts – those who built the payment systems we so seamlessly use today – were nearing the end of their formal careers, leaving a significant gap in skills and deep knowledge of the payments ecosystem
An increasing number of non-traditional service providers were entering the payments arena with a limited knowledge of the national payment system and the fundamental principles by which it operates
The continued efforts to modernise payment systems and offerings could be bolstered by a heightened and common understanding of the mechanisms that make today’s payment systems tick
With an unswerving plan to introduce a blended learning approach for our exciting programmes and launch a new programme in Electronic Payments, our journey started with an overwhelming sense of excitement and enthusiasm. Not once did we think that 2020 would present us with an even bigger opportunity – a mandatory and brutal push to think bigger, go farther and do better.
As the news of lockdown descended upon us, we were forced to cease all face-to-face training programmes and provisionally cancel the balance of our 25 programmes already scheduled for the remainder of the year. Like so many other institutions, we were faced with the reality of unlearning what we knew had worked before and re-learning that which would carry us through a season of turmoil and sustain us for the future, whatever that may look like. And with that, our e-learning journey began.
Considering the options, we soon realised the wide range of benefits that e-learning type training had to offer. With more companies starting to use e-learning solutions for internal training and compliance awareness programmes and an increasing number of training institutions either converting or supplementing their traditional classroom training with e-learning, it became clear to us that converting our existing training programmes into e-learning could benefit PASA’s members and stakeholders as well as their employees tremendously. Some of the benefits we envisaged were:
Reducing operational costs such as venue, catering and travel costs associated with classroom-based training. As a result, being able to significantly reduce pricing to the market, making training accessible to more learners. Reducing the administrative burden of booking venues, arranging appropriate sustenance, updating attendance registers, directing and re-directing learners to venues, attending to scheduling conflicts etc. Eliminating the need to take learners out of their workplace for full days at a time, allowing learners to access the system at a time convenient for them. A couple of quick one-hour sessions when the kids are in bed or early morning before meetings would go a long way to completing such programmes. Eliminating the need to travel, which in turn provides a multitude of benefits such as more time, less cost, more relaxed students, no starting classes late because of traffic jams or flight delays, to name a few. Incorporating more modern and apt training aids such as links to articles, animated videos, pre-recorded interviews, virtual classroom sessions and virtual reality integrations. Having access to improved management information facilitated by a learner management system. Creating an opportunity to extend the training faculty to professionals who may not have the time or appetite for full day classroom sessions, but can share their views and thoughts on pre-recorded videos, without having to take time from their diaries for each separate training programme. Being able to effortless extend our training offerings beyond South Africa, without additional cost or effort.
As we approached this new frontier with caution, our aspirations of early 2020 were further strengthened by the knowledge that not only would we solve for a short-term need, but we were also building a capability that would sustain payments education in the long term.
Today we remain somewhat saddened by the knowledge that for the first time in 8 years, there were no graduates to celebrate in 2020. But we are grateful for being able to launch PASA’s first e-learning training programme during March 2021 – The PASA Electronic Payments Programme (EPP). Whilst the first 19 students are eagerly working their way through the online training journey, the release of a new and improved online PASA Certificate in Foundational Payments is scheduled for May 2021. Next will be the Advanced Certificate in High Value Payments, and thereafter … well, the list is long and the possibilities endless.
As we reflect on this journey of rediscovery and renewal, we are reminded that change is inevitable and sometimes a push in an unforeseen direction will lead to unexpected and wonderful outcomes.