Tracy Bickerdike told The Morning Advertiser (MA) that delivering courses online meant that prospective Star publicans were more engaged in the content of the pub company's Innside Knowledge workshops.
She said: “It was important to us to make sure that it was as good as, if not better than the face to face course. From our experience of running the courses over the month of May, we feel that there are definite benefits to do it online. Everybody gets to participate.
“In classroom environments, you sometimes get the person who answers all the questions and knows everything, whereas in this virtual environment they have to wait to be asked. They all have to participate. We have a greater level of participation in the virtual course.”
The course did not include anything about coronavirus as the company was anticipating release of guidelines for the hospitality sector.
Raring to go
Bickerdike added: “I have been pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastic and positive the learners have been, they don't really talk about Covid-19 or have been worrying about it.
“They are just really focusing on getting the training done so they can take on these businesses. Once we are ready to reopen again and come out of lockdown, they are raring to go.”
There are a few aspects of the course that Bickerdike believes cannot be taught online such as a day where learners can meet with suppliers. Therefore the course will be delivered as a hybrid of online and face to face sessions in the future.
Converting the course to a predominately online one also makes the process more accessible, getting rid of a staple one week course in Newcastle, which meant learners had to leave their families and businesses. Instead, it was delivered over two weeks with daily three hour sessions and homework.
Annamarie Pearson was one of the learners on the May course and is taking on the full tenancy and lease of the Railway, in Leyland, Lancashire.
She said: “It was a bit of a challenge because I'm not tech savvy whatsoever, so the first few days we had a few issues with Zoom. But to be honest with you, it was absolutely fantastic and I much prefer it from being on a course away from your business. The course is brilliant and I have come away with a fresh attitude and ideas.
“Everyone was able to get involved. I recommend it. I think it is much better than being on a real course and it is the way of the future.”
She said: “You have to make the best out of a bad situation. It is going to be a challenge with all the [coronavirus] restrictions, but you shouldn't let something like this stop or deter you from something you love.”