/ 25 years IAF

// No man is an island

John Donne once wrote, we are a part of the main. The fact that no one is alone in the fight for freedom, democracy, rule of law and market economy, and no one can fight successfully alone, comes alive in the International Academy for Leadership (IAF). For 25 years now, like-minded people from around the world come here to learn and to network, first as strangers, yet they leave as friends. Many will stay in contact for years, support each other and sometimes even set up joint projects. Among other things, this is possible because the seminars of IAF are methodically designed not only to impart knowledge, but also for intensive exchange. The IAF was able to hold two such seminars in its anniversary year; the third one had to be terminated early due to the pandemic and the threat of flight connections being cut. Since we are looking back at 15 years of experience with “blended learning” which combines presence and online elements, one thing was clear: we can achieve a lot by using digital channels! However, we now have to make sure that there is a “feeling of presence” in the online-world as well. How can we accommodate time zones from Korea to Mexico? How can participants actively participate in a seminar for one or two weeks while blocking out the everyday life around them? How to break the ice, to replace break-time chats and to create an environment where friendships lasting longer than the seminar can develop? It has to be fun; it has to be surprising and it has to be entertaining! Videoconferences must be brief, and presentations have to be more than concise! Our participants have to be part of the action and not just onlookers! And: online-events are different from presence events not only because cameras and headsets are used. When moving from presence to digital, seminar facilitators need to build a brand-new environment for the same contents and goals of a seminar, just as if they were moving from a campus to an adventure park.