In the March issue of the FIATA Review, the Chair of the FIATA Logistics Institute (FLI), Stephen McDermott, shared his vision for the future and called for member engagement to ensure that their needs are met in the area of training and education. With the three FLI task forces now established, delegates from FIATA Association Members can get started to fulfil their assigned mission. Today, the spotlight is on the ongoing activities of the FLI Task Force 2 on digital learning and international cooperation.
Technological advances witnessed over the past years have allowed for a general shift towards the digitalization of learning. Once marginal, e-learning occupies today an ever-increasing space in the training and education landscape. This trend equally applies to the freight forwarding and logistics sector, where some Association Members have long established digital training programmes leading to the FIATA Diplomas. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a hold on face-to-face education in various regions, several associations are moving to online delivery, or have expressed their will to do so.
FIATA wants to remain at the forefront of this evolution and believes that it is a fundamental shift, as the digitalization of learning allows for a wider access to education. Yet, despite enthusiasm to go for e-learning – which represents a flexible, responsive, and cost-efficient training delivery mode – there are true challenges associated to making a digital leap, in terms of investment costs, technical expertise, or even having adequate internet access. Moving from face-to-face to online training is therefore a complex effort. It requires to carefully address many important questions, such as ‘What is the best learning management system?’ or ‘How to organize the lessons and ensure learners remain engaged without direct face-to-face interactions?’.
Even with a solid training and education background, all this can become highly challenging without digital learning expertise. As members have demonstrated significant interest in getting support from FLI to move to online learning, the FLI Task Force 2 is strongly committed to provide the appropriate tools to Association Members in the development and implementation of online training programmes leading to the FIATA Diploma in Freight Forwarding and to the FIATA Higher Diploma in Supply Chain Management.
In light of the above, and in line with the 2021 workplan established by the institute during the FIATA Week, the FLI Task Force 2 is currently working on a project that will give the necessary supporting tools and background knowledge to Association Members who want to deliver the FIATA Diplomas online. The goal is to offer comprehensive and ready-to-use guidance material for the associations to develop their own digital learning strategy.
The project deliverable – digital training guidance material – will provide instructions on all decisive questions and aspects to consider when setting up an online training programme. The idea is not to impose specific choices on members, but to ensure that they are fully equipped to make the decisions that best suit their needs. As there are no one-size-fits-all answers, this flexible tool will be adapted to the diversity of Association Members, including various methods adjusted to different means.
Among others, the guidance material will look at the different instructional approaches, such as synchronous or asynchronous delivery i.e. whether the course is given ‘live’ by the instructor or recorded and made subsequently available to the students, as well as how the course should be delivered to ensure high-quality teaching and learning. The approach preference involves touching upon key elements of training and development, such as providing adequate training to instructors, encouraging class interactivity online, and having the proper technical support.
Moving learning online requires a renewed focus on instructional design and ensuring that the right software is chosen to deliver effectively, according to the needs of the training programme and the financial means of the association. Advice on how to market an online training approach will also be available. These elements and many more, considered essential in the implementation of an online programme, will be addressed in FLI’s digital training guidance material.
The first exchanges took place among the Task Force 2 members a few weeks ago, which allowed them to better define the scope of this project and adopt the most suited approach to tackle it. The first concrete step will be for the delegates to establish the list of all relevant topics which should be included in the digital training guidance tool. The next step will be to elaborate concise explanatory guides for each of the identified topics, to make them as accessible as possible for all – especially for those who are new to the world of digital learning. The comprehensive guidance material will then be made available to the Association Members in due time.