Working online – what have we learnt, what has stuck?

One much debated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the ‘new normal’ in which many of us embraced working from home. Many employers have now shifted towards ‘hybrid working’ as part of a wider reshaping of perceptions around work and learning environments.

In a similar trend, new technologies doesn’t mean that all learners are looking for a solely online experience. Instead, blended learning – sometimes termed ‘active learning’ or ‘hybrid learning’ – is a preferred approach for many.

CIDT has held a long-term partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) since 2019 – with both teams being well adjusted to hybrid working even before the advent of Covid. CIDT was first commissioned to map RNLI’s Project Management approach against international development standards and develop a bespoke Project Cycle Management (PCM) toolkit. Since then CIDT has supported several rounds of training for staff and partners, facilitated the development of strategic planning and supported design of programming frameworks for RNLI’s programmes in Tanzania, Bangladesh and Lifesaving – all through remote working. Most interestingly CIDT supported RNLI with the development of a set of criteria to assess PCM maturity and carried out a PCM maturity assessment to establish the confident, competence and culture related to the new tools adopted.

In February 2024, CIDT’s Ella Haruna held a short online training to orient some new RNLI staff to the PCM tools that the international team use to support participatory thinking around the project cycle. Delivered via Teams with use of online tools like Kahoot, the training took participants through a planning process based on a live RNLI project case study. Participants said:

  • It was very comprehensive. The facilitator’s expertise and experience was obvious. I found that working through the RNLI case study project collaboratively on ‘Jamboard’ was particularly valuable as it gave us the opportunity to apply what we were learning along the way to a real-life example.
  • Lots of flexibility to ask questions and discuss points within the training

Moving online during the pandemic popularised the vocabulary of ‘synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’ learning. Synchronous created virtual classrooms through real-time, digitally mediated teaching, while asynchronous involved self-paced independent working.

A report from FutureLearn has shown that 23% of people feel the biggest benefit of online education is the freedom to learn at a pace that suits them, followed by the ability to learn from home (22%) and overall flexibility (20%).  “A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit..”  CIDT finds that combining self-paced learning delivered by our in-house e-learning platform with face-to-face delivery is most effective for client groups. It allows all participants to establish a shared learning baseline and move at pace during the in-person session.  We offer two self-paced courses in PCM and M&E, which are also available to individual learners.

In summary it seems we have all learnt to work and learn online.

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