Blog Article

Creating engaging self-paced learning: the IASeminars approach

Monday 15 August 2022

Most people associate IASeminars training with individuals or small groups attending courses in locations around the world or virtually through platforms like Zoom. Not many are aware that IASeminars also creates courses for larger international organisations spanning continents. There are many organisations, from international companies like major accounting firms, to UN agencies to collaborative international initiatives such as the African Professionalisation Initiative that need to train hundreds or thousands of people ensuring they all meet the same high standards.

In an earlier post I discussed how training is effective when it is both personal and enjoyable. Supplying training for very large numbers of people poses special challenges in making courses relevant to each individual and engaging to maintain motivation for participants working on their own. Let’s examine how we tackle this.

More than anything else is the way we work collaboratively with the client. To make training personal we need to understand the previous experience and knowledge of all the learners and the common goal they need to reach. This involves designing a training programme, or sometimes multiple training programmes, for people with very different levels of experience. Each programme is built from a number of courses tuned to the needs of the specific audience.

We need to be sure that training has been effective.

Assessment is an important part of our self-study, online courses, but what do we assess? Some clients have already adopted a “competency framework.” In this case, we directly assess if the competence has actually been achieved. If no competency framework is in place we need to work closely with the client to unambiguously define the learning objectives.

We can make sure that participants only take the training they need by recognising their personal prior experience, confirmed through pre-assessments.

Of course the most significant way we make courses personal is that  they are created specifically for the audience. We do not believe that generic, off-the-shelf courses are suitable at the professional development level. Since we are creating courses for large numbers of learners it is economical to design them with relevant examples in the context of the organisation and with an overarching ethos aligned to the organisation.

Making online courses engaging is a fascinating challenge but we look to the world of games for inspiration. By using a problem-based-learning approach we pose challenges that are meaningful in terms of everyday work within the organisation. We provide an opportunity to investigate solutions and learn the consequences of decisions made. Interactive activities provide a way of making learning effective, following a principle attributed to Confucius:

“I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.”

Following these approaches and working very collaboratively with the client we can supply personal and enjoyable training programmes for large numbers of people.

Our well-established development process includes a triple-review providing the client control over all aspects of the training programme. The triple-review process applies to each and every course.

The three review stages are:

  • Kick-off discussion: IASeminars’ subject expert will define the learning goals and content outline based on the context set by the overall project. The purpose of this first stage is to decide, with the client, the scope of the course and agree what will be in scope and out of scope as well as the level of detail to be included.
  • Instructional design review: The instructional design review is initially carried out by IASeminars and is the stage at which the course, as defined by the subject expert/author, is examined to ensure it includes as much suitable interactivity and problem-based approach as possible. Once the IASeminars’ internal review is completed the client also reviews the course at this stage with a subject expert and an instructional design expert. It is much easier to make changes at this stage when the course will be in Word format and easily edited.
  • Final review: This final review stage, following directly from IASeminars’ quality assurance stage, is carried out using the online delivery platform to ensure that the course, as viewed interactively on-line, is suitable and can be signed off.

Note that all three if these review stages can require revision of the previous stage to ensure satisfactory completion before passing to the next stage.

If you need to train large numbers and would like to discuss our approach or see examples of our work, please contact IASeminars.

About the Author

Stay Updated with IASeminars

Join 20,000+ other professionals on our global mailing list.