The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), which provides qualifications in wine, spirits and sake, is fast-tracking plans to take more of its courses online – with many already available to study during the shutdown.
People can currently study online for its courses in wine, leading to awards at levels one to four, and in spirits at levels one and two, but the Covid-19 shutdown has propelled the organisation to go further.
In March, Pernod Ricard UK pledged support to bartenders hit by the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 by partnering with the WSET to offer Level 1 Spirits courses online for free.
As well as WSET’s own school near London Bridge shutting its doors, classroom teaching was halted by the vast majority of the more than 800 specialists around the world who deliver courses, so WSET has offered all providers enhanced digital delivery options.
Although WSET’s Online Classroom currently supports course delivery only in English, it is also enabling providers to deliver courses in local languages through online conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. As a result, around 200 of them are now able to offer online courses to their students.
The WSET School London, which was forced to close in mid March, is now offering a “blended learning” programme for its students, giving them the option to continue their studies online through digital classes, webinars and live Q&A sessions.
For now, students have to wait until after lockdown to take the final exams in a classroom setting but WSET is exploring options to fast-track the use of computer-based testing for all its online courses. Trials are currently being run for its Level 1 Award in Sake.
The WSET School London is offering online courses starting as early as 11 May. For instance, the Level 2 in Spirits, starting 12 May, involves a five-week online learning programme made up of six modules with educator support.
It involves around six hours’ study per week to cover the online activities and read the relevant chapters in the textbook sent as part of a physical study pack. The course covers the fundamental production methods and principal raw materials and how they are used to make the key spirit and aromatised wine styles. It also explores the key practices and principles of serving spirits and the use of spirits in cocktails.
Other providers around the UK include Mixology Group which is offering Levels 1 and 2 in Spirits online. It is also running the classroom-based courses via an online portal using Zoom. Click here for details.
The Mixing Class, set up by bartender Hannah Lanfear, is currently offering WSET Levels 2 and 3 in Spirits as webinars. Click here for details.
Enjoy Discovering Wine is currently offering Levels 1 and 2 in Wine as online courses. Click here for details.
WSET’s CEO, Ian Harris, said: “Our Digital Education team has been working around the clock over the past few weeks to progress our digital learning offering at an unprecedented pace. We are determined to give our course providers the best online tools available and to minimise the impact of the current crisis on our students’ educational journey with WSET.
“We already had a strong ‘digital first’ strategy and investment plan in place, so I am incredibly proud that our dedicated team has been able to roll this out in such a short space of time.”