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Final activity: challenges and benefits of taking my training online

Introduction

Now that you have worked through all, or most, of the sections of this course, this final activity will give you an opportunity to draw conclusions about the best ways to take your own training online.

There isn’t a simple ‘right answer’ to which online tools and training techniques you should use because it will obviously depend on your particular training context, including your learners’ familiarity and access to online learning, the training culture you and your participants are used to and your particular training topics.

There are, however, common challenges to and benefits in taking your training online, and this is the focus of the final activity.

This final activity is divided into two parts: the first part asks about the challenges you may face and the second asks about the potential benefits.

Activity: Challenges of taking my training online

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

We have made some suggestions of challenges of taking your training online in the first column of the table below. Add further challenges as they occur to you in the blank rows at the bottom of the first column. In the middle column, we have suggested some possible ways you might address these challenges and you can add additional ideas.

You will also need to add possible ways of addressing any challenges that you have added (at this stage you are not aiming to select ways of addressing the challenges, just to generate a number of possible solutions).

Once you turn to the right-hand column, think about which of the possible solutions seems likely to work best for your training, choosing one or two approaches that seem particularly promising.

Challenges Possible ways of addressing them What would be best for my training?
My own confidence and skills in using new online tools

Start by using tools I am more familiar with

Identify one new tool that looks as if it would be particularly useful and dedicate one hour to trying to learn how to use it

Ask a more experienced colleague or friend to mentor me

Attend formal training in using particular tools

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Participants have limited experience of online training

Start the sessions with activities and online tools they are more likely to be familiar with

Gradually add more complicated activities and tools

Discuss what is different about online training compared to face-to-face training

Suggest that participants form informal support groups with each other

Offer dedicated technical support sessions or help by email or phone

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‘Zoom fatigue’ i.e. people spending too long on video conferences

Keep calls short and focused

Use a flipped classroom, so less time is spent online together and more time working independently

Provide some resources in writing and as images

Use videos and audios which can be studied asynchronously

Use asynchronous forms of communication such as private groups on social media or SMS groups

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Too much ‘assimilative’ learning

Use the idea of the seven types of activity to think of alternative learning activities

At the planning stage, commit to always allowing significant time within your training for small group discussion and feedback

Learn to use feedback tools such as word cloud generators and polls

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To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
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Discussion

Here are some ideas from some trainers.

Challenges Possible ways of addressing them What would be best for my training?
My own confidence and skills in using new online tools

Practising with the tools beforehand to familiarise yourself with the different functionalities. Some tools provide a sandbox environment or demo space where you can freely explore

Some tools also provide learning videos or (sometimes free) short training courses that you can attend to gain more confidence with the tools

Practising using the tools
Participants have limited experience of online training

Try to use platforms that learners are already familiar with (e.g. WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, etc….)

Start the training 10 or 15 minutes early, to allow learners to log on, and sort out any technological issues before the online training actually starts

Some software such as Zoom allows participants to test it first - organisers can share a test link beforehand for anyone nervous about the technology to test it out

I’d be interested in finding solutions that use technology that learners would already be familiar with, such as WhatsApp, and the use of chatbots
‘Zoom fatigue’ i.e. people spending too long on video conferences

Include offline elements to the training, for example, homework activities that can be completed in their own time, to minimise screen time

Building in breaks, often learners need longer breaks than for face-to-face trainings

Try a flipped classroom approach instead where the learning happens offline, and the online interaction is more about addressing issues and providing support

I’d be very interested in trying the flipped classroom solution of learners doing more of the learning offline, and bringing questions to the online sessions
Too much ‘assimilative’ learning

Include more interactive elements such as quizzes, polls, interactive whiteboard features, to minimise the time a learner is just staring at a screen

Include chat features and breakout rooms to increase the interaction between learners

Breakout rooms seems easiest but in time I would like to add quizzes and polls
Maintaining learner interest and engagement

Add a competitive element to the training, to encourage friendly competition between learners (e.g. use of quizzes)

Add assessments where learners are provided a score. This could also be linked to receiving a certificate or some other reward

Accredit the course in some way, so it counts towards other goals such as professional development

All of these look like promising approaches, but challenging to implement
Learners are distracted by work emails or social media

Blocking time in the calendar

Talking to your line manager beforehand to ensure that this time is held for the online training

Put an out-of-office notice on during those times, and close emails completely

Leave mobile phone in another room if possible

Recommend all these approaches to learners in the invitation to join the course
No access to internet/electricity/hardware

Run blended learning with some training in person

Cascade learning – train people who do have access to train those who don’t

Run online training in workplaces, etc.

Pay for data bundles or hardware

Create materials that can be downloaded and then studied offline

Cascade training through those who have access
Facilitation is quite challenging as you need to perform multiple roles (presenting, facilitating, listening, looking at the chat, preparing break out rooms)

Make sure to have enough people supporting and dividing clear roles (who lets participants in if there is a waiting room, who answers questions in the chat, who creates break out rooms, who mutes participants if they unconsciously make noise etc.)

Identify who will do these roles before each session
Participants delaying going through the self-directed e-learning and don’t finish on time

Check in with them regularly

Create a forum in which they need to put their answers

When they see others are taking part perhaps this will motivate them more

Check in regularly (probably using a private WhatsApp group for participants)

Many voluntary and third sector organisations took their training online during Covid-19 because they could no longer run face-to-face training events. Infectious disease specialists predict that further global pandemics are to be expected in coming years in our increasingly globalised world, so clearly one benefit of taking your training online is that it enables you to keep working during any periods of lockdown and physical isolation.

However, as we hope this course has conveyed, there are many other benefits of online training, even when face-to-face training is also possible. You can find a reminder of some of these benefits in the section Knowing your learners. A blended approach that uses some face-to-face events and some online elements can be a particularly useful strategy in getting the best out of each medium.

Activity: Benefits of taking my training online

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

For the final activity of this course make some notes about what you see as the main benefits of taking your training online in your particular training context. Think about your organisational context, the situation of your typical participants, your national or regional situation, the topics your training focuses on and the educational style that you find most effective.

How can you get the most out of taking your training online?

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Discussion

Here is what one person wrote:

  • Reduces burdens on trainers and training teams (addresses capacity issues): there is a small core team of people within my organisation who deliver training to learners around the world. As the demand for this training grows, we are struggling to keep up with the training schedule, as well as fulfil all of our other work commitments. Moving the trainings online can help us reach more people quicker, as it cuts down travel times and logistic time in preparing these face-to-face trainings.
  • More cost-effective (to learners): a large part of the costs of face-to-face trainings are the training costs, involving trainers and learners traveling to be in the same location for the training. The move to delivering trainings online in the face of COVID-19 related travel restrictions has drastically reduced these costs and logistical efforts involved. Online trainings are more affordable, and therefore can be more accessible to more learners.
  • Environmentally friendly: trainers can deliver online trainings from their offices or from a local space, which is much more environmentally friendly in terms of carbon footprint than flying them around the world to be where the learners are.
  • Flexibility: you can study at your own pace and have the comfort of learning from your own home or work. This helps people to work and study at the same time.
  • International perspectives: you can train people from many different countries in one training, this enables really rich peer learning experiences and helps create international communities of practice.

End-of-course survey

If you have finished exploring the different sections of this course, please do the end-of-course survey before you leave the course.

This survey gives you the opportunity to tell us about your experience of studying Take your training online and what you plan to do with your learning.

The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.