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Virtual is the New Face-to-Face in the World of Professional Development

Our Guest Contributor Maria O’Dea, Director, The Event School London knows all about the Professional Development world and has had to find new ways to deliver courses when faced with lockdowns and restrictions, here Maria explains how she adapted, how virtual face-to-face learning fits into the business and importantly how it will work for you.

We thrive on it!

It’s no surprise that our teachers and students love and thrive on the energy and personalisation that face-to-face training offers. After all, we specialise in training for the very people focused wedding and event industries. Our industry loves nothing better than meeting in person to share, network and enjoy and learn from each other’s experiences and company.

So, until Covid19 hit, our passion and focus was purely on providing an in-person learning experience in London. We loved teaching “knee-deep” in and amongst the industry and online learning was not a training method we were the least bit fond of!

In the past year, like everybody else, we’ve had to adapt to living in a predominantly online world. Our course delivery had to change significantly and swiftly to meet the changing needs of our students and graduates.

And to our astonishment, we all fell in love with the online world!

How we work

For us, online training has predominantly meant delivering online in live classes, in what we call Virtual Classrooms. In our Virtual world, students benefit from the same industry experts teaching the same content, for the same number of hours, with the real-time interaction and engagement, that they’d experience on a London course.

Our course teaching sessions aren’t pre-recorded, and they are not self-paced or self-taught. (These types of courses are commonly known as fully online.)

While there is nothing wrong with a well-delivered fully online course (e.g. our micro-credentials are fully online) when it comes to the specialised skills you need to progress in the wedding and event industry, we still think you just can’t beat the learning you gain from the interactions in a face-to-face course.

But, face-to-face for us now definitely includes within our virtual classrooms.

Virtual classrooms

Virtual courses have become a standard offering alongside our London courses (which restart in June). While learning in London is still our first love… with the impact of Covid on travel and a change in habits of how we work, Virtual Courses are an ideal solution to allowing students to learn from anywhere, while still maintaining our face-to-face dynamic.

Our students have discovered that attending live online training with expert facilitators and like-minded participants, can be a deeply rewarding and enriching personal and professional experience. And our virtual face-to-face environment allows them to benefit from instant feedback and guidance on matters most important and relevant to them.

With our teachers so passionate about making their live online classes engaging and interactive, many of our students say they felt it was just like being in a real classroom!

What are the benefits?

Here are just a few benefits we think students receive on Virtual face-to-face courses compared to a self-taught, fully online programme:

  • Our training delivery methodologies offer a “student-centred” approach and we design Virtual courses that encourage active learning and interactions among learners.
  • Virtual face-to-face training provides supportive interaction with teachers, class colleagues & industry contacts.
  • Virtual face-to-face learning provision offers the opportunity to receive information, motivation, timely feedback & coaching.
  • Instructional activities provide the opportunity to collaborate with classmates by exchanging and building information together. Effective virtual learning often comes through detailed discussions and debate regarding subject topics where you take in viewpoints you haven’t considered yet.
  • Virtual site tours and the inclusion of guest speakers provide additional opportunities to see how your newly learnt skills apply in the real world, and to collaborate, connect with and learn from a range of industry experts.
  • Network while you learn, as face-to-face delivery in our virtual classrooms offers real life human interaction with other people who share many of the same career and professional development goals.
  • Teachers implement a range of learning strategies to keep your online class involved and engaged, retaining the group’s attention and encourages better learning results.
  • We know that every learner is different. Some are very independent and if they have a challenge to consider or address, they will prefer to solve it themselves. There are also many learners who prefer to be shown, or have something explained in a context they understand, or to communicate and collaborate with others.
  • Virtual face-to-face training offers participants the opportunity to develop effective personal and professional skills through communicating with their teacher, classmates, guest speakers or industry contacts.
  • Our Virtual courses are designed to offer adaptability. Our delivery plans offer the flexibility to adapt to the learner’s needs, as teachers learn more about their participants’ learning and development goals and preferences throughout the course.

Who are the instructors?

With teachers like Siobhan Craven-Robins (Weddings) or Karla Pleasance, Vicki Sutton, Sharifa Wilkinson, Nick Carden and Nick Oxborrow (Events) known for their creativity and innovation in their industry roles, it has been a joy to watch them apply those same skills to developing exciting and inspiring live online classes.

But I couldn’t express the rewards of a face-to-face experience in a virtual classroom any better than our graduates!

“This (virtual course) was an eye opener for me! I extremely enjoyed every bit of it. It was my best experience in an online school”

Nina, Vicki Sutton’s Event Management Course, Virtual

“It (virtual course) was interesting. Luckily my teacher was engaging and interesting enough to keep me fully focused throughout the whole day’s session, which is something I was slightly worried about. It was a very helpful and engaging course.”

Raya, Nick Oxborrow’s Festival and Cultural Events Course, Virtual

“I really enjoyed the live classes, being able to interact live and ask any questions was so helpful. Siobhan explained everything so well and made it so easy to learn.”

Laura, Siobhan Craven-Robins Wedding Planning Course, Virtual

“Although it was virtual, the course was pleasantly interactive, without feeling obliged to answer to questions and we all had space to share our experiences. I found the class more engaging than watching a webinar. It was a friendly environment and I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts.”

Iosetta, Nick Carden’s Event Production Course, Virtual

“Live Online Classes were much better (than fully online) and more interactive. It gave you the ability to go through things and keeps you engaged. Great energy too on teaching me so much knowledge to reach my end goal and dreams in creating my own events and festival! I really enjoyed every second, you (Sharifa) kept me focused and keen for learning more!”

Tanina, Sharifa Wilknson’s Festival and Cultural Events Course, Virtual

From adversity comes opportunity

So, while it’s been more than a tough and challenging year for our industry and we would much rather have done without it (!), they do say that from adversity comes opportunity.

Our launch into the virtual world has allowed us to train and support students from all over the globe, and their presence in our online community has enriched our own lives immeasurably.

Virtual has become the new face-to-face and long may it continue!

Learn more about Virtual and Online Wedding or Event Planning Courses with The Event School London by phoning 0203 239 0950 or visit

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