DevResults has been providing engaging, hands-on trainings for seven years. With thoughtful adaptation and continuous innovation, we’ve crafted effective and fun trainings, whether in-person or virtual. Below are our four core pillars of a successful training and how we translate them to an online setting.
What are the hallmarks of an excellent training?
- Trainees learn by doing: Trainees should perform 100% of the skills they’ll need to acquire, first to learn a new process and later to reinforce that learning. Hands-on exercises not only help with internalizing key concepts, they also bolster internal capacity development. For example, we ask our trainees to demonstrate new steps to colleagues in preparation for them training others in their organization.
- The training provides opportunities to have necessary conversations: A training must provide dedicated time to discuss issues and resolve questions while everyone is gathered together. We’ve found that during the course of a training, stakeholders across M&E, IT, and program teams bring up issues that others might not have considered. The conversations that come out of our training sessions focus on everything from complicated indicators, to approval workflows, to naming and usage conventions, to how to train and build capacity throughout the organization.
- Attendees are fully engaged: Whether in-person or remote, the pull of distractions is strong. By engaging with trainees on every topic with exercises, mini quizzes, and colleague-to-colleague conversations, we help keep the focus on processing new skills and ideas.
- The training emphasizes problem solving: No one is expected to remember everything from a multi-day training. Effective trainings reinforce how to find information and solve problems weeks and months later. Throughout a training, we provide opportunities to use our knowledge base and help desk to answer questions as well as to familiarize users with all available resources.
What challenges do virtual trainings pose, and how does DevResults address them?
- While it’s reasonable to host an all-day training in person, virtual sessions must be much shorter. There’s plenty of research on how conference calls drain your energy. We’ve been a fully remote company for a decade, and even we get tired of Zoom.
- Instead of a few days dedicated to training, we’re running 2-hour sessions for 5 days, spread out over two weeks. This way, the amount of time and energy dedicated to training sessions is more manageable for everyone.
- We’re setting all trainees pre-work to get them ready and properly set up before a training begins. This way, trainees get familiar with the sites they’ll be working in, properly configure their hardware and software, and know how to reach out to trainers for assistance even before we start.
- We assign asynchronous activities between and after sessions that encourage trainees to practice skills, discuss what they’ve learned with one another, and consolidate new processes with existing organizational workflows.
- Interacting with many people is more difficult remotely. It’s harder to gauge facial expressions, engagement, and attentiveness through a webcam. There are also technical hurdles in facilitating side conversations.
- We ask our trainees to use temporary Slack groups for co-working and collaboration. This helps foster an atmosphere of ongoing discussion for both internal and app-related issues as they come up. It also means that trainees have a record of all conversation topics and can rely on them in the future.
- We’re also using Slack to run several interactive polls and conversation threads to increase engagement throughout the training. The questions we ask are great for reinforcing key concepts and solidifying new skills.
- We’ve expanded the number of interactive exercises we do, including our group scavenger hunt and troubleshooting exercises. We’re also making sure that every participant shares their screen and walks everyone through an exercise at least once every 2-hour session. If this isn’t practical, we can rely on polls, breakout rooms, and conversation threads to engage our attendees.
Virtues of Virtual
- Better for retention: With short online trainings spread out over a week or two, trainees can internalize more content than if they receive it all at once. Trainees also have more opportunities to leverage helpful resources (both ours and the input of their colleagues).
- Better for practice: Practice makes perfect and spacing out virtual trainings offers opportunity for more asynchronous exercises.
- More efficient: Virtual trainings take less time overall, ensuring minimal disruption to ongoing work.
- Cheaper: DevResults is able to provide virtual trainings at a fraction of the cost of in-person trainings. Many organizations will save more without the need to gather folks from the around the world in a hotel or conference center.
- Environmentally friendly: Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing air travel.
- Develop related technology skills: DevResults has worked remotely for a decade; we’ve tested countless tools and practices for online collaboration. We take a holistic approach to trainings and include guidance on making the most of distance learning.
Have any questions for us, or just want to know more about what we’re doing? Reach out to us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org