Delivering digital training courses can have advantages over classroom interaction, including lower overhead costs, flexible hours and the potential to cover a wider geography. To understand the challenges in going digital, FIATA interviewed its community of training centres to identify key topics they addressed when setting up their e-learning environments. Here are some of the common trends among the FIATA community.
1. Regulatory approval for courses
Before dedicating resources into developing a digital programme, it is recommended that training centres contact local regulators to understand whether approval is required to deliver certain courses digitally.
2. Re-planning lessons
In a virtual environment, courses need to be re-planned as students will lose focus should the course follow the same eight-hour lesson plan via a computer screen. It is advised to break days up and re-plan the lessons to consider shorter sessions online.
3. Administering the assessment
One of the more technical approaches to assessing students’ knowledge is via an online tool, such as think exam, where the questions are uploaded and students can take the exam online. Another option is for a training centre to offer the assessment through examination centres, where students gather and take the exam while being monitored by the instructor.
4. Trainer readiness for e-learning
It can be quite an adjustment for many lecturers to train online and therefore it is advisable that a training centre provide a course specifically designed to help train lecturers to deliver their courses digitally, specifically focusing on how to utilize the technical tools.
5. Adjusting a trainer’s schedule
Trainers delivering a course digitally will need to be prepared to answer questions after classroom hours via email or a digital tool. Questions will arise as students work on their case studies or study for their final exams, which will prompt the students to send questions to trainers at various times throughout the day. It is advised that trainers adjust their schedules to take into account the spread of questions throughout the period of the course.
6. Internet connection speeds or other inadequacies
Training centres should establish contingency plans in case of slow internet speeds or other inadequacies. The best contingencies for such scenarios is to record the lecture. The majority of videoconferencing tools have this feature available as a solution.
7. Learning management systems vs a live stream
A learning management system (LMS) can be a great environment to host a suite of e-learning courses. Some of the popular LMSs include ‘Moodle’, ‘Edmodo’ and ‘Blackboard’. If you invest in an LMS, a training centre should also invest in an authoring tool, such as ‘Articulate 360’, which is used to build courses in an LMS
Training centres can also opt not to utilize an LMS or authoring tools, and instead build an online course using emails, cloud drives (such as ‘Google Drive’), and videoconference tools (such as ‘Zoom’ or ‘Adobe Connect’). It is a great starting point for a training centre wanting to assess demand for a virtual course or looking for a short-term solution.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to developing a successful e-learning programme. It is highly dependent on each training centre’s unique circumstances, overall budget and objectives. The decision to go virtual can be a wise one, especially as more and more students seek a convenient approach to accessing training, wanting something that fits their schedule rather than having to adapt to it. It is important to assess one’s market carefully and to try to understand if there is demand for e-learning courses, and how best to supply that demand. FIATA wishes everyone the best of luck as they take on this exciting and challenging opportunity.