Does your e-learning need to be participatory? Does your target group of learners need to build skills that go beyond the basic concepts? Is it important that your learners have a voice while they are learning? Is the application of the skills and knowledge dependent on the learners’ work situation, culture, environment, etc.? Do your learners include seasoned practitioners who need to upskill? Is a top-down ‘I provide – you learn’ approach not only ineffective, but perhaps even offensive? Are you currently running great face-to-face workshops for these groups but budget/time and other constraints mean you can’t keep these going? And you’re worried about losing the magic?
Then you need to look into eWorkshops…
An eWorkshop is the online equivalent of being in a training room and learning together as a group, but stretched out over a few weeks. eWorkshops typically take about five to seven weeks (some are a little longer).
On average, participants commit to four/five hours per week for the learning activities. The focus is on solving real-life work problems together with fellow practitioners and supported by an expert e-facilitator.
The ‘work’ takes place in asynchronous (i.e. not in ‘real time’) online discussion forums or other collaborative tools. This means participants can log in in their own time and space. But just like a face-to-face workshop there is a program to follow and tasks to complete with shared deadlines. So people need to work on the same topics in the same weeks as their fellow participants – but they don’t need to all be online at the same time.
Where did it all start?
In 2005, Anouk faced some really tough training design and delivery challenges when supporting a global shipping company. In many ways, these challenges were quite similar to what she encountered in the development sector, where she worked for over 15 years before starting DynaMind eLearning. The readily available and often used e-learning approaches back then just didn’t work. She came up with an e-learning model that focuses on facilitated collaborative learning, which was (and still is) quite different to the common approaches out there. The eWorkshop model was born.
The eWorkshop model has become increasingly popular in the international development sector – where participatory approaches are essential – culminating in winning Gold in the 2014 Asia Pacific LearnX Awards for best e-learning model for a programme developed for World Vision Australia.
The eWorkshop model is different to any e-learning you’ve experienced before because of (1) the way in which the collaborative work is done, and (2) the way it is facilitated (quite different to e-tutoring because the purpose and model is different).
When we design eWorkshops, we make sure the team tasks are challenging real-life problems. It is very motivating for learners to be given the opportunity to work on typical workplace problems with fellow professionals and apply the skills while they learn.
The eWorkshop approach is used when the content cannot be packaged and when it’s important to integrate the participants’ own work experience into the learning journey.
The asynchronous approach overcomes the challenge of variable internet access and different time zones. The approach to e-facilitation means that we manage to create a real buzz, despite the reduced use or elimination of real-time communication.
Our eLearning Nomad blog article ‘Can we develop e-learning that respects adult learning principles?’ compares the depth of learning achieved between self-paced e-learning modules and eWorkshops. The blog post ‘Why eWorkshops instead of webinars?’ explains the benefits of eWorkshops over webinars.
The model can be used in combination with other methods. In some programmes, trainees undertake an individual self-paced e-learning module (e.g. Articulate) to achieve concept mastery and basic application, after which they voluntarily enrol in one of the facilitated eWorkshops which is aimed at taking this knowledge and these skills to a much deeper level. eWorkshops are also successfully used in blended programmes to offer pre- and/or after-care for face-to-face workshops, as well as a first stepping stone in establishing a vibrant community of practice.
What software do you use?
We like developing our eWorkshops in Moodle (or Totara) because its linear interface is ideal for this type of design. Moodle is also a great tool for ensuring that your programmes are accessible on low bandwidth, so ideal for the development sector.
We have developed eWorkshops in other software too – we just have to make sure that it supports problem-based learning and team work without being too restrictive (i.e. behaviourist). If you’re not sure whether your platform can handle this, get in touch and we can have a look.
Can you train us in designing and delivering eWorkshops?
There are two key success factors in this model: expert design and trained e-facilitators. DynaMind eLearning offers regular e-facilitation workshops to train clients’ staff and consultants who are responsible for running the eWorkshops. Organisations which also want to build in-house capacity in eWorkshop design can enrol their staff in the Moodle eWorkshop design course.
In addition, we can work alongside your staff on a co-creator’s, mentoring or review role – whichever suits your internal capacity development strategy best.
Sharing some of the many success stories…
In our ‘selection of past work’ you will find a short write up of eWorkshop programmes which we have developed for UNWomen, the Australian Council For International Development and World Vision. These are just a few of the many programmes we have supported. Get in touch and we can have a chat about those that are relevant to you.
A tiny selection of learner feedback from eWorkshops we developed
It was the best training experience I have had in years!
I was a bit apprehensive about this course […] I am not a fan of online learning. But, wow – this is so different.
What a great way to learn while doing. These scenarios are fantastic! […] I had no idea teamwork online could be so interesting and fun. […] This has opened my eyes.
Excellent! Teamwork was organized in a wonderful way!
[A strong point of the course was] a sense of belongingness, that we are part of a family.
I will remember this online course as my first ‘real’ and quality online learning experience 🙂
The course delivery was highly professional and at the same time personal – I did not feel as if I was just ‘one of the crowd’. I have learned so much, thanks heaps!
Thank you so much for this course! I really enjoyed it and found it to be an amazing learning experience.
The course design for both the e-learning modules and the e-workshop is outstanding.
I wish all training could be like this!
This is the best online course I have done. Extremely well structured and facilitated. No changes to suggest. Thanks and well done!