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Staying Connected and Positive During Shelter-In-Place Orders

#becomeanidol #covid19 #elearning #idolcourses #instructionaldesign #instructionaldesigner #motivation #positivity Apr 02, 2020

Staying Connected and Positive During Shelter-In-Place Orders

All of us at IDOL Courses, like many of you across the learning and development world, have seen the things we tackle daily become part of the national and international dialogue around the many shifts taking place in response to COVID19 - shifting learning from in-person to online, figuring out and implementing technology quickly, wearing many hats (from designer, to developer, to deployment support, and everything in between). And as shelter-in-place orders are more common than not across North America and Europe, in major cities in Asia and Africa, it feels like the whole world is attempting to practice social distancing (or at least they should be). If you are fortunate and privileged enough to not be on the front lines of this unprecedented crisis or directly impacted by the over 940,000 cases that have been identified at the time this was written, if you have some space to breathe and or feel like you have extra time on your hand, we’ve gathered some ways to help you to stay connected and positive during this pandemic.


For greater connection in the field of learning and development:

Want to network with others in the field or just get a fresh perspective? Consider this option to meet up with others - Virtual Coffee: L&D Edition. Despite a lot of research, I wasn’t able to find out who is hosting this, but through this google form you can connect with others in the field. The heading notes: “This initiative is not affiliated with any business and no emails will be collected for anything nefarious. We're just a few lonely L&D professionals looking for a good chat.”

Nyla Spooner, a phenomenal instructional designer and early career mentor who was featured on the IDOL Courses blog in February, has started hosting virtual happy hour events for L&D professionals on Thursdays; details can be found on her LinkedIn profile. Many connectors in other fields are hosting similar virtual networking gatherings - to find others, just search LinkedIn for ‘virtual happy hour’ in content and you’ll find a rabbit hole of options to dive into.

There are numerous organizations across the field hosting free webinars and other free resources for shifting to remote work, translating ILT to VILT, and many, many others. Instead of getting lost in google, I suggest going to the social media pages of your favorite groups - from Articulate, to Allen Interactions, to Alchemy Learning - to find what you would enjoy most.

If you’re curious about what it might be like to permanently work remotely and work for yourself, consider using the current situation to hone your skills as a freelancer. If you’re not sure how to do that, here is a free online training to help you get a feel for some of the things you might encounter and how to avoid mistakes.



First and foremost - give yourself grace! For most of us, the pandemic has thrown a slew of firsts at us – requirements for 100% remote work, kids at home simultaneously, and even some job insecurity. Strive for productivity and maybe even some growth as you take on new tasks or roles, but recognize you need to approach it in a way in which you can still take care of yourself.

I can’t recall when I first came across it, but for at least a year, I’ve referenced this beautifully hand-illustrated reminder of basic ways to take care of myself every day. I find it’s particularly useful and appropriate now.

If you’re missing your yoga or pilates studies, find them on facebook - many area streaming classes live and posting videos. I’m taking advantage of the DownDog app, a fabulous smartphone and tablet app,which is currently free, and that allows you to fully customize your guidance for an in-home practice. From style, to music, to length, you can create whatever it is you need in that moment.

And if you’re incredibly fortunate and haven’t found the pandemic disrupting your life very much, please pause to reflect on how much it is impacting others and extend all of the grace you can.


Support frontline healthcare workers

There’s plenty of research-backed and anecdotal evidence that we feel better in a stressful situation when we can do something for others. My current team has been brainstorming ways to support the frontline healthcare workers at the local hospital treating many of the COVID19 patients in our area. There are many things that are both easily accessible to many and can reach as many as possible - a few that we’re working on are: 

  • arranging a catered meal delivery, 
  • coordinating donations of other helpful items, like compression socks, sweat wicking headbands, and shoe inserts,
  • and writing cards to say thank you and keep spirits up.

Another incredibly innovative approach to supporting those on the frontlines of this pandemic is the Health Hero Hotline, which is a way to “Share your own or listen to messages of gratitude, hope, love, and support for our health heroes at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Visit their site to find the number to call and leave your own message, as well as to listen to other’s expressions of gratitude.


Connect with Family and Friends, as well as with colleagues in a setting outside of work

Have virtual gatherings on google hangout, zoom, facetime, facebook lives, or any number of other options. This weekend, I’m hosting a virtual birthday party and a game night. Other ideas include dinner or baking parties, in which you make plans to make and eat the same recipe simultaneously to have a shared experience.

I have started to Facetime my loved ones spontaneously. I used to only use the facetime call function when we had planned it, when we could coordinate that everyone would have the best connection and was up for being on video. But now I’m using it whenever I feel like I need to see my family and friends or when I need to be seen.

Connect with your neighbors

I recently started participating in two very fun ways to connect with those I’m in closest proximity to - my neighbors. The first activity is being referred to as a bear hunt, based on a fabulous children’s book and song in which readers’ imagination is activated to imagine all sorts of conditions while going on a bear hunt. To participate - put a stuffed bear or other plush animal toy in a street facing window, so that when kids are out for a walk with their family (as many of us with kids must do everyday for everyone’s sanity), they can look for the bears and other animals. It might result in a wave or socially-distant hello and, we hope, will foster greater connection when the pandemic is over. The second approach - started by a FaceBook group called Heart Hunters - encourages participants to decorate your front door, garage, drive way, or street facing windows with hearts to send love to any who might see it.


Written by: Molly Parsons


Connect with Molly on LinkedIn.

Molly is an instructional designer and eLearning developer focused on learner engagement. She recently started a new position on an enterprise learning team working on a large-scale, multi-dimensional training for cloud-based software. She is passionate about all things learning and is especially focused on executing L&D projects with attention to learner needs. She loves to tinker with eLearning authoring tools but is quick to point out that eLearning isn’t the right tool for every training or development need. She currently calls the Pacific Northwest (PNW) home but has lived in 7 states and 3 other countries, and she has the cooking repertoire to prove it.