Things were just getting back to normal at TÜV Rheinland Akademie when the second pandemic lockdown forced the seminar centres to shut their doors again. However, the good news is that continuing professional development and online certification is still possible even in the crisis – with virtual classrooms.

A virtual platform for students and teachers

Digitalization in the fast lane: in 2020 alone, TÜV Rheinland Akademie hosted more than 700 Continuing Professional Development CPD seminars attended by around 6,000 participants in its virtual classrooms. Adobe Connect played an important role from the outset: the package brought students and teachers together. The online platform is used for shared content creation and collaboration. Although it’s all virtual, participants still have face-to-face contact with each other from their tablets or laptops. It was challenging for trainers, who had little time to adjust their teaching style and methods to create a new curriculum. While some had worked with virtual classrooms before, this kind of all-digital approach was of course unexpected and required a good deal of skillful improvisation.

Organization, pedagogics and didactics – reimagined

Hard work and commitment achieved what we’d previously have thought impossible. In early 2020, our course content was adapted to a digital format virtually overnight. Everyone pulled together to ensure that both organizational and teaching standards could still be maintained. Step by step, the seminar centers started opening up again over the summer. The numbers of seminar participants were greatly reduced, of course. But, as long as distancing and hygiene rules were observed, CPD classes could once again be attended in person from late May onwards.

And a good thing too, since some courses are virtually impossible to teach entirely virtually. That said, TÜV Rheinland Akademie did find a solution even for courses with a lot of practical work. To keep group sizes small and COVID-compatible, part of the group worked exclusively online at home while the others attended classroom lessons as normal. All made possible by good organization plus the quality of modern webcams. And for everyone well and truly stuck at home due to quarantine or self-isolation, virtual classrooms (VCs) represent the only option for taking part in CPD courses.


In early 2020, our course content was adapted to a digital format virtually overnight.

Virtual classrooms get top marks from everyone involved

Feedback from seminar attendees has been consistently positive. Apart from avoiding a business trip and hotel booking, CPD via VC is often a better way to balance career requirements with home life. Many of those who attend are also surprised at just how well course content can be taught in a virtual classroom, although the lack of networking in breaks is a potential problem. The feedback from seminar managers is very similar. While they also miss the personal contact with participants, it’s certainly simpler to organize a VC seminar – not least because there’s no longer any need for printouts!

Online audits with certification

Seminars that involve a TÜV audit are bit trickier to organize, however. While final exams would normally take place in groups plus a supervisor, online audits for courses that offer certification need one auditor per customer, with those audited receiving continual, synchronous online support during the entire virtual session. To make this possible, TÜV Rheinland Akademie developed a sophisticated system that fulfills all of the provisions of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Trainers register their customer for the audit personally, thereby declaring that this person meets the admission requirements. A date for the audit is then agreed and the candidates receive a detailed schedule.

announced for 2021


In the run-up to the audit, participants are given a special piece of software, plus username and password, and they log in 15 minutes before it starts. Although the software is browser-based, all other functionality on the user’s device is ‘frozen’ while the participant is logged in. This means candidates cannot go online to look up answers or page through their digital notes! Authentication uses the device’s webcam. To date, the test has been multiple-choice only, although the trainers are now busy preparing a system that allows freeform questions and discussions. After passing the audit, customers are given their results immediately and can download their certificate.

Ready for the restart – VC-based CPD in lockdown

For professionals currently working short hours, the new VC courses from TÜV Rheinland Akademie are a great opportunity: they can use their time for professional development and get ready for the restart when the Coronavirus is – finally – beaten. What could be better than showing a new certificate to one’s employer, along with the new know-how it represents? And in the worst case, it’s a compelling argument to be kept on by the company. So it’s not surprising that our VC seminars are now in great demand. For 2021, the seminar centers have already announced 1,630 seminars for our virtual classrooms and 69 had been completed by the end of January.






From the coast to the carnival City of Cologne. Born in Schleswig-Holstein, Birte Micheels has been at home in the carnevalistic Rhineland since 2015. As a marketing manager she combines Nordic reserve and Rhenish cheerfulness. In her private life she can be found outside a lot, preferably sailing on the Baltic Sea, but also on beautiful bike routes and hiking trails far away.

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