To continue to service member countries, the JVI significantly reorganized its operations following the onset of the pandemic: courses were switched to virtual format in the space of a few months, with no face-to-face course delivery since March 2020, while webinars were introduced as a new tool to provide a different type of training experience to a wider audience.
The JVI has undertaken a systematic analysis of this virtual training and compared the “new” world of virtual teaching to the pre-pandemic one. The results illustrate that participants overwhelmingly appreciate and benefit from the new mode of course delivery, with strong satisfaction reported and good learning gains. Additionally, webinars have allowed the JVI to reach a broader audience and to complement existing courses. The below summarizes the key findings.
Sustaining course participants’ engagement is a major challenge with virtual delivery. To address this issue, the number of sessions per day has been reduced and individual sessions have been shortened, on average. Shorter training days are also required to accommodate the time differences between stakeholders, which can go up to 11 hours. As a result, in most cases, course content had to be reduced. Courses have had on average about a third less participants to ensure better engagement, but also reflecting to some extent lower demand than for face-to-face courses.
The gender composition of participants has remained unchanged with the shift to virtual delivery, with the female share remaining slightly above 50 percent. There were, however, changes in the geographic origin of participants: the share of Turkey and a few Caucasus and Central Asia countries has increased in the past two years, while that of Southeastern Europe (mostly driven by countries in the Western Balkans) decreased. Regarding institutional affiliation, the share of participants from central banks and other institutions has increased, with an opposite trend observed for ministries, especially other than ministries of finance.
Learning gains are similar to pre-COVID-19 times, and overall satisfaction levels, as illustrated in the graph below, remains high.
The JVI launched webinars in May 2020 to disseminate analytical work and to provide a platform for sharing knowledge on economic policy issues relevant for the JVI’s constituency, including the economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially webinars were used as a substitute for courses, as classroom delivery was suspended at the start of the pandemic and the transition to virtual training delivery required some preparation. Webinars have since evolved into a complement to virtual courses allowing to attract high-level experts and to focus on topical issues, often at short notice. 24 webinars were organized in 2020, and 33 in 2021.
Moving away from the COVID-19 focus and the high reliance on IMF speakers in 2020, webinars in 2021 covered a broader range of issues and included more panelists from other institutions. A series of webinars was organized on climate change issues in 2021.
JVI webinars have proved quite popular, with on average about 100 people attending a webinar and another 50 watching its recording on the website. Webinars have enabled the JVI to expand its reach in its core constituency, with most attendees spread across the JVI-eligible countries (and Austria) and about 50 percent of them affiliated with either central banks or ministries.
Patrick Imam, Deputy Director, Joint Vienna Institute