Jamie Saye is a Senior Technician at Opera North, and a Director and Co-founder of Sustainable Arts in Leeds, a not for profit community interest company with the goal of uniting the cultural and creative industries of Leeds, to tackle climate change together. As a certified Carbon Literacy Trainer, he has experience of adapting courses to suit different audiences and is now experienced with both face to face and distance delivery, as well as being a vocal advocate for Carbon Literacy. He has the most experience in delivering training for the creative and cultural sector but has also delivered training to local authorities and education establishments. Below, he shares his experience of adapting his course to work for distance delivery when recent restrictions made face to face Carbon Literacy training sessions impractical. If you are a trainer who would like to share your own experience in the hope of helping others, please contact us – we would be pleased to hear from you.
I found very quickly that trying to adapt my usual training course for online delivery just didn’t work. Trying to play videos to people over Zoom just ends up as a kind of laggy distorted mess, a lot of the activities require you to be in the room with the learners, and Zoom doesn’t easily lend itself to allowing your learners to have a conversation as part of a bigger group, as you inevitably end up cutting someone else off when you start talking. Therefore, I took the approach that I was basically going to redo my course from scratch and put it onto different online platforms and I actually tried a couple of different platforms before settling on Microsoft Sway and Zoom, but there are other packages out there with different strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what features you require.
For my online course, what I did was to split the course in two, and have the participants learn all about the science behind climate change in an online, self-guided learning session using the Microsoft Sway platform. This allowed me to create an interactive presentation with videos, links to more information and quizzes, so there was an element of the learners coming to their own conclusions without having me in the room there with them. Microsoft Sway is completely free and is a very powerful way to make interactive and engaging presentations so I would really recommend it.
The second half of the course I split into two sessions and delivered them as 2 x 1.5 hour Zoom calls over 2 different days. The first Zoom call covers the UK’s roadmap to net-zero carbon and what it all means, the second session covers how we as individuals can take action. In my Zoom sessions, I utilise the polling feature to ask questions of the participants, utilise the breakout room feature to get people into smaller groups so they can discuss concepts with each other, and also use the whiteboard feature to make things more interactive. Here are my top five tips that I would suggest when putting your online training course together:
Adapt your course to the strengths of online delivery, rather than just take what you’ve already got and try and deliver it online. To give an example, I already mentioned videos just don’t really work when you try and play them in a Zoom call, so try a different way of getting the information across. For example, ask the learners to do their own research on a topic in between calls, or you could develop an activity which teaches the concept, or create a quiz on it!
Building on from that, regularly punctuate your training with lots of interactive elements to keep interest, whether that’s something like a poll, a breakout room activity or a quiz. There’s nothing worse than being ‘talked at’, and it’s even more fatiguing over Zoom!
Keep the sessions short. I’ve found that 1.5 hours is the absolute maximum when it comes to how long you can realistically keep someone on a Zoom call for without a break.
Don’t feel like you’ve got to fill all of the time yourself, allow quite a bit of time for the learners to go off into breakout rooms to discuss things and also allow for questions and feedback. Personally, I feel that as a Carbon Literacy Trainer I should only be talking for about half of the time, the rest of the time the learners should be contributing.
Take the time to get to know the tools you’re going to be working with, and maybe round up a couple of other trainers and deliver a bit of your session to them, testing out the breakout room/polling/whiteboard features, etc., if you’re going to be using them. In my first session I spent about 5 minutes looking for the breakout room button, something I wouldn’t have had to do if I’d have taken my own advice!