9 tips to train your staff or partners in the field during COVID19
I was working in the #Sahel when COVID19 stormed out. At that time, I was planning a partners and colleagues’s training in the field on « targeting ». With the COVID19, no way to carry out the training as designed initially, gathering thirty men and women in the same room for 5 days.
Fortunately, I had the chance to know an e-learning expert – yes, they exist ! - who helped me design a remote training.
Here are nine tips to organize a successful remote or self-training :
1. Be convinced : Remote or self trainings are as much effective (even more) than a face to face training
How many times did you attend a training – several days in a room with a succession of powerpoint sessions between 8 am until 5 pm ? How much did you learn from this training - especially when you don’t have a great trainer or no interest in the session ?
Not much ! Neuro science and trainers gurus estimate that you remember only 10% of your reading and 20% of what you hear. In summary, with the traditional training approach « meeting room, powerpoint and hundreds of written slides», you will NOT learn much.
So remote or etraining cannot be worst. And they are not necessarily theoritical, you can include practical exercizes on the topic you want (see point 4. 5. and 6.).
2. Prefer a short training
Humanitarian workers have a limited amount of time for capacity building (unfortunately), because they have to manage many competing tasks : programme implementation and service delivery are always a priority over your professional development.
Better design a training with a limited scope and plan several trainings during the year ideally following the project cycle life.
For example, I worked on :
- a rapid market assessment’s training at the identification stage to confirm the choice of assistance modalities (types of cash based or in kind transfers)
- a training of partners and colleagues in the field about targeting just before the project started.
The good point of a short training is that you’ll have more time to work on your training material and finalize support documentation (guidelines, questionnaires, reporting tools etc.).
3. Vote for a light agenda with a variety of sessions
We all want to plan 10 training sessions per day and come up with a heavy agenda because there is a lot to cover with limited amount of time and resources.
Neuroscientists estimate that level of attention decrease by 80% after 10 minutes for an adult!
You better organize an agenda with short sessions and light hours : it will give time to your learners to carry out their daily work and be fully dedicated to the training and keep their attention.
You’ll find here an example of agenda to get inspired.
4. Include quizz and videos
We all love games : they stimulate you and you learn by playing (like my kids) and they promote « activeness » in the training.
Always include QUIZZin your training : questions of understanding after each session and questions of practices in the afternoon. Yes, it takes time to design the questions : ask your colleagues to propose some questions.
Your effort will pay off : you can use them over and over. You’ll find here an example of quizz questions to get inspired.
The quizz questions can be prepared with Kobo and the kobo link shared by whatsapp: each participant will answer questions on his own smartphone. You can also use mentimeter for real time polls and quizzes.
You can also include VIDEOS in your powerpoint instead of text. I am using screencast-O-matic : you can record your own videos or capture videos from youtube for example and include them in your powerpoint. This application is very simple to download and to use. With the free version, time of recording and the video edit are limited (but they are enough in most of cases). If you want more options, the first level of licence upgrade is very affordable.
5. For high or medium level technology access : remote training with Zoom or Teams
If everybody has access to a computer (laptop, desktop) and a stable internet connexion, zoom and teams can be very useful.
BUT let’s be clear : Zoom or Teams are not MAGICAL solutions as stand alone tools to ensure a quality training.
Use the chatbox to interact with participants, write the questions and share ideas and comments.
AND, mix these tools with other methods (point 4. and 6.) to make the training session more interactive and ensure participant’s commitment.
6. For low technology access : self training and … whatsapp
In countries or areas where internet coverage is not stable and access to laptop is limited, you can still carry out an hybrid model of remote and self training. At least, majority of field workers owns a smartphone and field partner have access to a laptop.
This is the model I chose in Mali with my e-learning expert.
I created a whatsapp group with all the participants after asking for their consent and their whatsapp contact. You are creating a living community during the training period. You can even use it as a community of practice group afterwards.
One week before the beginning of the training, we shared the training material (powerpoint, learner’s guide, guideline and annexes) by WeTransfer and by USB key for those who could not have access to internet. You need to finalize all the training material at least ONE WEEK before the starting date.
Participants are autonomous in reading the training material. You are using whatsapp to animate all your sessions, quizz and questions/answers sessions. You can find an example of a whatsapp animation.
7. Incentives and certificates
One great incentive for participants to achieve the training and being proud of themselves is to plan a final quizz (with Kobo for example) and set a threshold above which the learner receive a certificate of achievement (80% of good answers for example).
It also gives you a good knowledge of the active participants’ rate and their level of understanding.
You can use the quizz questions you used during the training sessions and maybe one or two tricky if you’re a bit nasty.
8. The cherry on the cake : evaluation after the training
Never easy to do it but this is a great way of knowing if your training was successful (or not).
If you kept the whatsapp group, you could ask for learner’s feedbacks after several weeks.
Another way of evaluating your training is to check if your learners used AND used well the tools presented during the training.
During the training carried out in Mali, we provided digital tools to fill in by field workers (kobo questionnaires and activity reports) : with a quick look at Kobo database and at the activity reports, we were able to check if the training was sufficient to ensure an appropriate use of the tools.
9. Great benefits of remote and self training
Large Scale: Thanks to the remote training, you can reach a very high number of participants across regions, countries in a very short period. You ensure a common and homogeneous learning and the training can be done again easily.
Active participation and learning : 100% of active participants won their certificate of achievement and we noticed an improvement of practises and reporting in the field.
Limited Cost : A quick evaluation of the cost in the case of Mali showed that the remote training approaches cost 75% less than a face to face training !
Good perception of innovation : 100% of satisfaction, more than 90% of learners liked the whatsapp tool and less than 3% of participants faced technical issues during the training.
Visibility and partnership : remote or self training allows you to enroll many participants from the government and various organisations living and working in remote areas. Offering a training solution is always welcome and promote collaboration and partnerships.
If you need more advice about organizing a remote or self training, contact us !!