How to hire e-learning program facilitators

How To Hire a Remote Training Admin To Manage E-learning Programs

Your agency might be one of the thousands that jumped feet first into e-learning this year. And you might have discovered that deciding to offer remote training is one thing, while running a course is another.

Training remote employees can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to think about who will be administering your online courses so that experience goes as smoothly for everyone as possible.

Depending on what kind of training you’re offering, you might need to designate someone as an administrator or you might need someone as a facilitator.

Organizations that are moving their online training program into an online space are faced with a difficult decision that will endure for the life of the program. Does it make sense to hire a new facilitator who is skilled in online work, or train an existing employee to do the work?

When you need a facilitator vs. an administrator

First, think about who you actually need to run your program. Here are some common scenarios:

An HR person for hands-off course management.

If you buy off-the-shelf training for compliance or skill building, such as HIPAA compliance or basic organizational skills, then you might not need anyone.

Many e-learning vendors offer a product that requires nothing more than someone in your agency sending in a registration list.

An administrator for ongoing e-learning program management.

If you have a next-level program where you’re training regular cohorts, you probably need a dedicated administrator.

An admin will promote the program, come up with scheduling, enroll and disenroll participants, answer questions, and generally keep things moving.

An e-learning facilitator for leading groups of learners.

If you’re actually teaching courses to people, then you probably need an e-learning facilitator.

An e-learning facilitator is a training specialist who is involved in a dedicated training program. They often work with e-learning developers or agencies, collaborate with a coordinator, and have an understanding of the course curriculum.

A facilitator may do some of the same work as an admin, such as enrolling and disenrolling, but they’ll also provide more hands-on jobs like moderating forums and grading tests.

When it comes to staffing this position, then your next big decision is who will fill that role. You could assign course duties to someone who already works for you, or you can hire for the job.

Both choices have pros and cons. Ultimately you’ll have to make a decision based on your individual needs. However, there are some clear benefits and drawbacks.

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Hiring training administrators from your team

One benefit of recruiting internally for this job is that you know your employees and what they do. You have a history with them that indicates how adept they are at change or if they have untapped skills that can be used. It can make the transition much smoother.

Internal employees also know you and what you do. It takes less time for these kinds of hires to understand the details of your organization and your mission. An existing trainer also has in-depth knowledge of your material and audience.

Cost-saving might also be a factor in your decision. Hiring from within reduces hard hiring costs, such as interview time, office space, or even relocation fees.

Promoting a staff member into a new training position has some disadvantages. If multiple employees are vying for one job, it could create animosity among the whole team. This could leak into management, especially if there are individuals that are resistant to strategic change–common in organizations considering a shift to online learning.

A bigger problem with hiring for e-learning programs is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know. How do you develop talent if you’re not sure what to do? Similarly, not all organizations are structurally set up to develop internal talent. You also have to account for the hidden challenges of training remote learners.

These issues combined lead to time, which you might not have to dedicate to transforming your in-person trainers into online pros.

Hiring professional e-learning facilitators

Those are all compelling reasons for tapping your internal talent pool, but hiring an external trainer who has detailed knowledge about online facilitation can be a great investment for your entire organization.

While an external trainer won’t know as much about your organization as an existing team member does, they will have critical skills in the online environment. Teaching online is different from teaching in a live classroom, and an expert will already know how to overcome obstacles.

The new skills an outside hire will bring will also move into the rest of your organization. The energy and fresh ideas a new person brings can revitalize your workforce and feed ideas to the rest of the staff. This is especially true if your new hire has experience at a competitor organization. The boost to your overall intellectual capital may bring benefits that are hard to quantify from the onset.

Plan for an outside professional in your budget. Accordingto ZipRecruiter, the national average for a learning facilitator is $53,690 per year or $26 per hour.

They’re also more likely to leave. That’s difficult for an organization to handle when they’ve paid more and have less stability.

How to decide who runs your e-learning program

Your organization must decide if it’s better to hire from within than outside, so there’s no correct decision. If you do decide to appoint someone to run your training program internally, make sure that person understands technology and is thoroughly trained.

For most entities, a new online-based program represents a strategic change, and strategic changes are difficult to spark from within. Most also lack staff who have computer skills and skills related to communicating online. Fear of technology is a powerful inhibitor, so it helps to have someone who feels free moving in an online classroom.

Organizations that for some reason can’t hire a new staff member should at the very least hire an online education advisor or a learning consultant. This person can coach your team through the experience of online training and help develop a structure you can use for the life of your program.


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In-person, online, or blended learning methods

3 Ways to Train Your Staff: Remote, In-Person, and Blended Learning

Training is a big-budget item every year. Making decisions about what your team needs to learn and where they should learn are important decisions. Those decisions can impact how much time they spend away from their day-to-day duties and how much time they can dedicate to upskilling. New training technologies, techniques, and learning systems can help you train your employees more efficiently and cost-effectively. It pays to think about the best ways you can reach your training goals, whether that’s through remote online training, in-person workshops, or a blended learning approach.

Computer-based training makes it easy to offer unified training across vast geographic distances. However, some topics are better delivered in a live setting. But using a blended learning approach means you don’t have to choose between the two training methods.

Remote Online Training

For many agencies, remote, or virtual training, is the clear answer. It’s a useful, cost-effective way to give your staff new skills or refresh ones they already have. Plus, it’s safer than sitting in a conference room with dozens of other people during a pandemic.

An online course is one where most or all of the curriculum is presented online. It’s very fast, and it’s often less expensive than other options. It can be, well, remote. The best online courses should be created to be engaging and relevant.

In-Person Training

On-site training requires that everyone be in the same place at the same time to learn. Most organizations do this through workshops, seminars, on-the-job peer training, or other face-to-face methods.

In-person training can be effective and it’s often required for some jobs. Expect to pay more for this kind of staff learning, however. You may have to pay for trainers to come to your location or pay for your staff to go to another location.

Blended Learning

Blended learning, sometimes called hybrid learning, merges traditional face-to-face methods with online learning. This is a common method of training that addresses many of the shortcomings of a purely online or a purely in-person strategy.

In a blended learning program, workers would complete online courses or parts of online courses. Then, they would meet up in person for demonstrations or workshops that work best in a live format.

Take the example of the Office of Healthy Communities (OHC) at the Washington Department of Health. The Office of Healthy Communities combined the best elements of in-person and online training to implement a blended learning model for their statewide community health worker training program (read more in the case study). OHC allows its network of facilitators around Washington to supplement a brief live session with an in-depth online course that contains assessments, assignment tools, and collaboration.

The training model is efficient, lean, and scalable. This allows it to meet funding variables and limitations. It also makes training fast and easy, which can be difficult in Washington. It’s a large state with rural pockets not easily accessible for traditional in-person learning programs.

“E-learning allows us to reach remote areas of the state to teach community health workers. Staff only need to stay one day in each location so it lowers costs of delivering the training significantly,” says Debbie Spink, instructor and community health worker training system coordinator. “We need the support of the online curriculum. It would be cost-prohibitive to offer this training only in-person.”

Blended Learning: How To Use It at Your Agency

Is a blended learning approach right for your organization? Here are five secrets of what it takes to build a winning program.

  1. Set educational goals

    Saving money and expanding training capacity might be the overall goals of moving to a blended model. But you should set educational goals that fit the new strategy.

    Setting and reaching goals is also important to your staff. They need to see how their work fits in with the larger objectives of your agency. Taking the time to work with them to set targets helps them understand how they’re part of the organization and positively affects their performance.

    Find ways to set small reasonable goals from the beginning, such as offering short courses for skill enhancement or in languages for a small set of your learner audience. Start small, document successes, and then plan to expand.

  2. Include Trainers from the Start

    A new training strategy does not mean your training staff will be out of a job, but they might not realize that. Remember to include your training staff from the beginning and remind them that the technology is a complement to their work in a face-to-face setting. Work with them to identify ways to use technology as a tool rather than a job replacement.

  3. Support Learner Needs

    Not all learners learn the same way: Some are better visual learners, some do fine with self-paced study, and others may have different language skills.

    When you start planning for a blended training program, minimally start by looking at what your workers and your organization need. Likely, your organization will have more factors you’ll need to assess.

    Doing a needs assessment will allow you to match your findings with a learning technology or other solution, that matches your learner population.

  4. Get Your Employees Excited About Learning

    Change is a frightening word in some organizations, and not always welcome. But if you want your training investment to pay off and help your staff retain knowledge and new skills, you’ll need to do some cheerleading.

    Head off any pushback from trainers, participants, and administrative staff by focusing on excitement and motivation from the very beginning.

    In general terms, this means ensuring your staff knows why they’re taking training and that the value is clear. It also means giving them educational materials that are designed for adult learners. Grown-ups need to juggle competing demands, preferred learning styles, and their own familiarity with the delivery method.

    Be ready with a list of benefits and get buy-in early. Listening and being open is often the best way to address concerns. Here are some more tips on motivating distance learners.

  5. Adapt and Evaluate

    A blended learning model is new for many organizations, and new systems can be a challenge to implement.

    Many administrators view evaluation as time-consuming and costly, but they shouldn’t. In fact, by ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

    As you roll out your blended learning program, frequently evaluate it so you can quickly identify problems and address them.

The Best Training Is the Right Training

The most important takeaway when choosing a method for training your team is to find the right one that works for them. The best training—the kind that people remember and can use on the job right away—is the kind they relate to. It should be engaging, not intimidating, and empowering so when they have their new skills, they’re ready to go.

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9 Ways you can manage virtual classrooms with remote learners

Being a strong leader is a central part of managing an online classroom. You need to guide discussions, resolve conflicts, and set boundaries for virtual class behavior for the training session to be successful.

Here are some techniques and strategies that will help you manage your online classroom like a seasoned professional. Follow these practices, and you’ll find that participants are better engaged and walk away with new skills they can use on the job right away.

9 Tips for managing your virtual classroom

1. Set a schedule for yourself and participants

Developing a structure is important for yourself and for the learners. Setting a schedule is a good way to make sure everyone completes their work on time. It also will help you have enough time to address questions, check assignments, and make updates.

Here are some tips for setting a helpful schedule:

  • Before the course begins, add time into your calendar for administrative duties. Every other day works well.
  • Set expectations upfront by telling learners when course assignments are due.
  • Send regular updates and reminders to keep participants on track.

2. Build anticipation for the course

Treat your training launch with some showmanship. Deliver some teasers ahead of schedule that let participants know something exciting is coming up. Here are some examples you can borrow:

  • Post notices on your internal messaging board well in advance.
  • Give a sneak peek by showing some highlights for the course or releasing the first introduction assignment early.
  • Ask your internal influencers for help by asking supervisors, leadership, or other respected individuals to send reminders.

3. Set virtual class rules

When an online cohort comes together, set ground rules. If you’re doing a live web session, do this at the same time you tell people to go on mute if they’re not speaking. It sets the tone and gives everyone a shared framework for group learning.

Setting ground rules can clarify what is acceptable or not acceptable at your online training session. Some cultures might feel comfortable taking calls or asking questions any time—others don’t. Some people find online training intimidating, so this can help them understand what you expect.

4. Encourage a team effort.

The physical distance in online learning groups can makes it hard for spur-of-the-moment collaboration to happen. Not everything needs to be a group project, but you can increase collaboration with encouraging exchanges, questions, and even brainstorming sessions. This helps your team work together.

5. Get learners participating right away.

It’s easy to disappear in a virtual classroom because no one is watching your chair. Prevent this from happening by setting the tone for participation. Ask remote learners to log in early, tell them to introduce themselves to others, and encourage questions frequently to keep the course lively.

Here are some ways to ask for feedback from participants, including:

  • A forum designed for general thoughts
  • A survey at the end of the course
  • Polls throughout the training. For example, ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module.
  • Asking for thumbs-up or thumbs-down emojis on your team chat channel
  • Direct questions about how the material relates to their work

Read more about ways to build participation in remote training here.

6. Use a conversational tone.

Tone matters. The way your words come across to the person reading them will make a difference to the way people believe and trust you as a course administrator.

Finding the right balance between personable and professional can make the difference between a lively class and a disengaged one. A conversational tone is best, but make sure to respect the adult learners who are in your course. Sometimes instructional text can come across as condescending.

7. Address conflict immediately.

When you work with a virtual classroom made up of people who have their own sources of stress, insecurities,  and sensibilities, conflict will occasionally happen. Upholding control in your virtual classroom is vital to successful facilitation. 

Here are some common ways that conflicts happen and some communication tips you can do to ease negative tension before it disrupts the classroom too much.

Conflict between two participants: If students engage in disrespectful or combative conversation, first acknowledge the confrontation:

“Louisa and Devon, I can see that you have differing views on this topic. Thank you for beginning a lively discussion.”

Then, ask the students to discuss the matter with you offline:

“I’m happy to discuss this matter with you offline via phone or email so we may resolve the situation outside of the public forum.”

This type of response lets you re-establish control over the situation and help to diffuse the building tension.

8. Remember cultural competency in the classroom.

If any cross-cultural communication issues crop up, be gentle when you address them. Rather than correcting people publicly or addressing them from the position of authority, turn communication gaffes into learning experiences.

Ask participants questions that allow everyone to explore their preconceived notions about a topic or individual. Use the discussion to explore deeper issues within the course and its contents, especially among students who disagree or argue about a particular topic. You might ask people to share what the cultural norm is for them in a training session, and use that as a starting point in your virtual classroom.

9. Chunk material for easy learning.

The average person can stay focused and engaged for 45 to 60 minutes before they need a break. Think about the meetings you’ve attended, and how long you’ve been able to sit in your seat without your mind wandering or needing to stretch your legs. The same applies to virtual classroom settings.

The most effective online lessons are broken into chunks to make it easy to work through them. Building modules of 30 minutes to 45 minutes are a good guideline to keep people motivated.

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Take your traditional learning program online

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Making Your Traditional Learning Program Virtual

Remote learning is here to stay. Virtual training will surely continue, even when in-person options become available after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lessens.

The reasons are clear. It’s a useful, cost-effective way of giving your staff new skills or refreshing ones they already have. Plus, it’s safer than sitting in a conference room with dozens of other people.

RAND Corporation recently announced the same findings in a report about students returning (or not returning) to the classroom.

It’s a trend that’s been happening anyway. Market researchers have said that online education will climb to $350 billion by 2025.

Online learning has a lower cost.

This should make your decision to invest in online professional development easier–even for the skeptics in your agency. Online learning is much more affordable than traditional in-person courses.

Even after investing in developing new courses, organizations like yours still can avoid paying for travel and accommodations. You might not see savings in year one, but years two, three, and onward will be much less.

How to start online professional development.

The difficult part is in the execution. Most training programs for healthcare teams offer live instruction, and converting those training materials into an online format is about as easy is it is to move from a house you’ve lived in for decades.

Begin with blended learning.

An easy way to begin adopting an e-learning model is not to convert everything online at once. Keep a portion of your in-person training exactly how it is, and adopt a blended-learning strategy.
Blended learning mixes the best of training delivery methods to suit different people’s learning needs and different subject matter. In other words, you can pick and choose what you train for in-person and what you train for online.

One benefit is that a live session allows for participants to meet each other and make connections with instructors and classmates that result in better retention. It can also be helpful for delivering material that’s better suited to in-person instruction.

For example, you might provide online diversity training to your team. Then, on completion, you can build on what was in the remote course with material that meets your agency’s goals, demographics, departments, or other factors.

Another example is from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Patient Navigation Online Course. It includes a 10-week online element that begins and ends with face-to-face teaching. The instructors cover such topics as communication techniques in the group, which gives participants a chance to try out newfound skills in a live setting. Other topics, such as documentation skills, convert easily to an online format.

Keep online training focused.

Many health-based organizations new to online learning fall into the trap of thinking they have to give learners everything that they previously included with in-person training. Not everything in the trainer’s toolkit needs to be delivered online.

Too many reading assignments and activities can take up a lot of time. Learners spend more time in the online course than applying their new job skills. Information overload can also be overwhelming, and some learners will lose focus and simply give up, even if the training is part of their job requirement.

Program administrators should remember to have faith that employees will learn on the job. The reason you present them with theories and tools is so they can apply them in a work setting.

Set up a system where supervisors or coaches can guide recent participants through using those foundational skills on the job. Make sure they’re acquainted with all the training materials so they know what to evaluate for knowledge-gain.

Questions to answer before starting an online professional development project.

When you’re getting ready to make the decision to launch an e-learning program, run through these questions as part of your needs assessment.

  • What are your agency’s or program’s goals?
  • What are your learners’ schedules like?
  • What’s your budget for the next five years?
  • Is the topic foundational or does it require practice in the field?
  • Do your employees have past experience with remote training?
  • Is your workforce all in one place or spread out geographically?

Follow these tips, and you’ll find that switch to e-learning will result in a group of people curious and excited about a new learning format. If you think a blended approach works for you, read more about what it takes to start a blended learning program.

Try These 3 Simple Ways to Boost Cultural Competency in Online Learning

Healthcare agencies understand why cultural competency is important among their patients and clients. But too few prioritize cultural competency with their professional development and training.

Remote training is the new standard for bringing skills to staff. In a time when sitting in a conference room is limited or not possible with physical distancing, distance learning has enabled employers to train new staff and upskill others.

But a rising population of online learners doesn’t necessarily mean that all training can meet the needs of culturally diverse learners. Sometimes training programs or courses are simply a document passed around, or a recorded Zoom session. A trainer might take the time to research the group and their cultural needs if they’re doing an on-site session, yet they skip right over possible differences when they’re delivering something online.

For any online learning environment, here are three ways to boost cultural competency and success rate in your online learning—no matter where you are.

1. Find out who the learners are, including cultural background.

Understanding the differences among staff members will make the experience of online learning more enriching for all. Cross-cultural communication is not only about considering demographic information about each participant. It also means being conscious of how their role within their organization or society at large will impact what they say and how they say it.

Understanding who is completing the training is the first step in knowing how to respect cultural differences. It happens that this is also a good strategy for making sure that your online courses are effective.

Once you know who the learners are, you can choose or develop courses that meet their unique needs. Do they need multilingual support? Should they be able to take courses between client visits? Do they need literacy support before taking a course? Make those changes.

Then, when training starts, ask managers and trainers to put themselves in the shoes of each other before completing training. What kinds of challenges could culturally or ethnically diverse learners face in taking a course? This small request can build up valuable empathy among your team. That boosts relationships that will show in the working day.

2. Set virtual meeting rules.

When the group comes together, set ground rules. Do this at the same time you tell people to go on mute if they’re not speaking. It sets the tone and gives everyone a shared framework for group learning.

Setting ground rules can clarify what is acceptable or not acceptable at your online training session. Some cultures might feel comfortable taking calls or asking questions any time—others don’t. Some people find online training intimidating, so this can help them understand what you expect.

If any cross-cultural communication issues crop up, be gentle when you address them. Rather than correcting people publicly or addressing them from the position of authority, turn communication gaffes into learning experiences.

Ask participants questions that allow everyone to explore their preconceived notions about a topic or individual. Use the discussion to explore deeper issues within the course and its contents, especially among students who disagree or argue about a particular topic. You might ask people to share what the cultural norm is for them in a training session, and use that as a starting point.

3. Create ways for learners to share personal stories.

Virtual training can feel isolating. Without making an attempt to engage learners, elearning can make it too easy for administrators to assume everyone feels the same way.

Find some ways to encourage learners to tell their own stories with each other. Sharing cultural diversity is easier when everyone can describe specifically their own norms. This also pushes collaborative learning, which is a great way to push learning performance and better retention.

Sparking these conversations can happen in many formats. Most discussions in the course occur in the forums, in breakout rooms, or in team chat platforms. Other tools in learning systems let administrators reach out to participants privately, especially in a case when a student seems to struggle with a concept or deadline. Use Private Journals, personal email, and in extreme cases telephone or personal meeting. Here are some more ideas for improving communication in training.

Although the course itself is online, the people in it are real. Taking the time to make a personal connection can make all the difference in the ultimate resolution.

How to make training less time consuming

How to Train Remote Staff in Less Time

Online training can be a life-saver. This is especially true when in-person options for staff are cancelled, and also when it’s hard to get people in one room together to learn. For people learning and delivering training, being able to learn new skills demands being able to take online courses. This might be a short-term fix for some organizations, but it will likely be the new norm for many others.

The benefits of remote learning are many. However, one common complaint is that it takes too long. Some people think it takes a long time to develop an online curriculum, and some people think it takes too long to complete the training.

A time-sink can have negative results on your program and result in lackluster remote learners. If you can’t get your new workers up to speed, or upskill existing employees, in a reasonable amount of time, your agency will feel the effects. Poorly trained people can’t do their job. Some staff members will make an attempt to do a job assignment, but they won’t do it correctly. At worst, they do slap-dash work. At best, they think they’re doing the right thing, but don’t understand. Either way, if they skim over long training, they will miss important skills.

It’s hard to apply a single rule to the wide variety of online courses. But it’s worth examining ways to either lessen the effects of time-consuming training, or at least manage expectations so everyone on your team knows how much time to make in their schedule. These changes let you train remote staff in less time and can make training feel easier and less intimidating.

Tips To Train Remote Staff in Less Time

  1. Track training time.
  2. Give staff enough time to learn.
  3. Set a deadline.
  4. Document processes for training later.
  5. Avoid multitasking.
  6. Answer questions ahead of time.
  7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.
  8. Set expectations that training does take time.

1. Track training time.

Before you make any changes to your training selection, make sure it really is taking an unexpected amount of time. It might just feel like it’s taking a long time. Boring or confusing courses are just as hard to sit through as a bad movie. They might not, however, take an inappropriate amount of time to complete. Have your staff track when they started and ended.

A tracker helps train remote staff in less time by being more organized

2. Give staff enough time to learn.

Some learners look at training as one more thing they have to add to their to-do list. Make sure they have enough time for training by making room in their schedule. An online course is far more flexible than an in-person training. Learners can do a bit of work when they have the time, break away to work with a client, and then come back to finish up. If 10 p.m. is a better time to work, they can work at 10 p.m. There’s no travel time.

3. Set a deadline.

Any time is often no time. If someone can push a deadline for completing a course into the future, they might never complete it. It also takes time to keep snoozing training, or not setting aside enough time to do it. So offer your staff a limitation on when they can finish a course, and they’ll find a way to fit it in.

A deadline can be a one-time event (“Complete the HIPAA compliance training by 5 p.m. Friday”) or ongoing events. In this case, you can give mini-deadlines to your staff. For example, they should complete module one by Wednesday, module two by Monday, etc. Structure can really be a time-saver and a big motivator for professional development.

4. Document processes for training later.

Taking a course in the moment is great, but having the training when you need it can be even better. People learn best when they can apply the skills at the right time. So provide training up front, and then later, when it comes time to use those skills, support your staff’s knowledge with added information.

The way you do this is to document everything, so that you have process and procedure documents that are at-hand when they’re needed. Document whenever you can, save what you create, make it available to the right people, and you’ll find you train remote staff in less time.

5. Avoid multitasking.

Multitasking is a way to do several tasks badly at once. It might feel productive to try to do two tasks at the same time, or switch between two tasks in quick succession. But https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask. We’re not made to do two things at once. Many psychological studies have showed that the brain doesn’t work this way and actually slows down task completion.

So when your staff is learning, make sure they’re learning. Discourage texting, phone calls, discussions, and working on completing training while doing other jobs. It will speed everything up.

6. Answer questions ahead of time.

Create the best condition for your learners by predicting the questions they might ask and answer them ahead of time. That way, neither of you need to waste time asking and answering obvious questions. For example:

  • Send a supplies list in advance, such as headphones, notebook, computer
  • How much time they can expect to spend on a course
  • Access information, including login, password, and whitelisting to avoid spam
  • Requirements for their job that you know happen on a regular basis

Add these items along with any others to a notebook or a document that you circulate every single time you instruct your team to complete a training. Also encourage learners to ask questions whenever they have them so you can add to your document.

7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.

Upskilling means to train your workers at a higher level and with updated skills to meet best practices, guidelines, and requirements. Upskilling isn’t training from scratch. It’s the practice of training often to keep up with protocols. Upskilling can also be quicker than training with a brand new course. You’re not reteaching, you’re customizing training so it meets new skills quickly.

8. Set expectations that training does take time.

Online training can be a time-saver in many ways, but it does take time. Factor in such issues as traveling, staying in a hotel, or waiting to check in at an event means that remote learning lets you train staff in less time. However, learners still need to sit in front of the course and complete it. Online training isn’t easier and it’s not a breeze. So make sure your learners know what to expect by telling them they should take training seriously and put the appropriate amount of time into learning.

Sometimes, just knowing how long something will take makes it go by that much quicker.

Program manager researching funding resources

27 Funding Resources for Healthcare Projects

Getting funding to kick off a healthcare program can be one of the biggest challenges. Another common challenge is finding a way to secure long-term funding resources to make the program sustainable. And sometimes, allocating the resources obtained is a challenge in itself.

The irony is that healthcare initiatives aim to reduce overall healthcare spending. And they do so while improving outcomes. But the reality is securing funding resources is hard. The competition for grants, staffing cuts, and declining spending make it tough for programs to work.

Finding funding isn’t always straightforward, so it can pay to think crooked. Think creatively about funding, because it really is out there. Here are some of the best tips that program leaders from states around the US shared and brainstormed.

Funding Resources for Healthcare Projects

Types of Funding Categories

Before starting on a grant-seeking expedition, it pays to understand the terminology around different kinds of funding. Spend some time with a glossary. This could help you structure projects that fit in areas you might not have considered. For example:

  • seed funding
  • place-based funding
  • capacity-building
  • supporting the non-profit sector

General Funding Sources

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Funding Announcements

AHRQ publishes regular grant announcements via email. These grants focus on “supporting research to improve the quality, effectiveness, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of health care.”

Applying for Grants to Support Rural Health Projects, Rural Health Information Hub

RHIhub is a font of helpful information. This guide is an A to Z on getting funding. It’s targeted at rural health projects, but applicable widely. It has resources, helpful organizations, opportunities, and models.

Candid Newsletters

Candid, a merger of the Foundation Center and GuideStar, publishes helpful newsletters focused on fundraising, boards, best practices, and more. The Candid Newsletters, including the Funding Watches, are monthly newsletters summarizing news in subject-based philanthropy, links to resources, funding opportunities for individuals and organizations, and job listings. There are also a selection of regional newsletters and the useful RFP Bulletin.

Council on Foundations

The Council on Foundations is a philanthropic network and nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. You can scan through members to find out who is giving grants on the Council on Foundations website. The membership directory is for members only. But the website is still full of references and keywords that can help in your search.

Grantmakers in Health

Grantmakers in Health is a networking group for funders that reveals trends and directions in grantmaking. The site provides announcements of grant funding, such as “The Well Being Trust, a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation, recently announced new grant funding for twenty-six initiatives as part of their California Mental Health and Wellness Initiative.”

NIH Grants & Funding

NIH offers funding resources for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers. Learn about these programs, as well as about NIH’s budget process, grant funding strategies, and policies, and more. Many AHRQ opportunities appear under NIH.

NNLM offers funding resources for projects that improve access to health information, increase engagement with research and data, and expand professional knowledge. They also support outreach projects aimed to promote awareness and the use of NLM resources in local communities. It includes many funding opportunities you might not think of, such as grants for holding training in libraries.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is a collaboration of members with the shared goal of advancing medicine and improving public health by giving health professionals access to biomedical information and improving individuals’ access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. It’s comprised of academic health sciences libraries, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other special biomedical libraries, public libraries, information centers, and community-based organizations.

COVID-19 Grants and Funding

The coronavirus is creating some funding opportunities meant to offset the disruption caused by the virus. According to an article by Moss Adams, “Large sums have been designated for health care industry purposes. The federal agencies will award the funds directly to health care providers as well as to states or state agencies, which will then pass the funds to hospitals and provider recipients.”

Some funding opportunities include FEMA public assistance awards, Community Health Center (FQHC) Grants, telehealth grants, and a helpful grant Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants from the Department of Agriculture Utilities Programs useful for any organization trying out online training for the first time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Grant Opportunities and Guidance, HHS.gov

The Health and Human Services page contains general information on grants related to COVID-19. Look specifically at the section labeled “Coronavirus Grants Information from across HHS” for direct links to several other agencies.

Private Donors

Many agencies make a habit of looking at the general funding sources listed above. But they ignore many private sources of funding that are less well-publicized. Some examples are:

Unexpected Departments and Sectors

Think outside of public health for funding other than or connected to health, like science, transportation, or other areas dedicated to social determinants of health. Note to examine your buzzwords, neutralize them, and learn the buzzwords in other sectors.

Some ideas:

  • Department of Transportation and Highway Safety, which wants to use community health workers to promote the use of car seats.
  • Reproductive Health provides funding to boost maternal health programs.
  • Partnering with doula organizations for post-partum maternal health?
  • Departments of Housing, e.g., Healthy Homes, Housing Trust Fund
  • CitizenScience, which works largely in technology and environments but also in population health (Smoke Sense is a project that aims to understand the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity, as well as inform health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoke days. SONYC is a smart cities initiative focused on developing a cyber-physical system (CPS) for the monitoring, analysis, and mitigation of urban noise pollution. GoViral is a free and real-time online Cold & Flu surveillance system administered by researchers at New York University. Participants will get a Do-It-Yourself flu saliva collection system that they can keep and use at home if they are feeling sick.)
  • Keep looking for federal, but also state and community funding sources.

Partners

Partners can help share the load and also open up possibilities for new grants. Some examples:

  • Indian Health grant for diabetes
  • Good Health and Wellness (Indian) – careful of duplicating efforts
  • CHRs
  • EMS (guiding CHWs to getting certified in CPR and First Aid)
  • Gaming Commissions often need to spend their money on communities

Strategy Idea: Mixing Funding Streams

Lastly, think about strategy when looking for funding resources. Remember that funding seeds funding. Funders look at successful programs that have already received money as potential sources for additional funding. They want their investment to succeed.

Sometimes you can increase funding if you tell one funder that you’ve received funding from another. They can provide a matching grant for the same cause.

Disclaimer: This article is a basic resource and is not comprehensive. We’ll continue to update it to add more information as funding opportunities become available or change.

Virtual training questions - person studying online

Virtual Training: Top 10 Questions From Program Managers and Directors

The way we think of learning has changed forever. Workshops, presentations, and courses have been through a major shift in the last year. Now almost everyone is involved in some kind of virtual training. That trend is likely to continue.

This trend has caused many managers to reach out for advice. Most often, they start asking how to best deliver training to their healthcare teams who are learning from home—or at least not in a conference room anymore.

Below is a list of answers to the top 10 most common questions we’ve gotten from program managers, directors, HR representatives, and other administrators in the past year.

If you’re one of the many who looks at delivering online training materials successfully as an essential skill, this list is for you. You might also like to read about some common acronyms connected with online learning in this article. Read on for tools and resources to keep your team engaged. You’ll also learn how to plan and run a successful virtual training program.

10 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Training

  1. What is virtual training?
  2. How do you keep people engaged during online learning?
  3. What equipment do I need for virtual training?
  4. What are the most common ways to access virtual training content?
  5. Who can facilitate virtual training?
  6. Is virtual training effective for professionals?
  7. What are the benefits of virtual training?
  8. How do you organize a virtual training program?
  9. How do you guarantee success in a virtual training program?
  10. Where to start when planning a virtual training program?

1. What is virtual training?

Simply put, it is training conducted online when the instructor and the learners are in two different places. It’s also known as remote learning, e-learning, computer-based training, or instructor-led training.

There are two modalities:

Asynchronous learning: In this style, instructors and learners aren’t online at the same time. The instructor shares a resource and the student uses it at their own pace. This style works best for its flexibility and the fact that anyone can access the resources as needed.

Examples of asynchronous learning:

  • College courses
  • Self-paced courses
  • Instructor-led classrooms
  • Bulletin boards or discussion forums
  • Communities of practice

Synchronous learning: The students and instructor connect live on their preferred platform (which can be as simple as a video call service) and interact in real time. This style is best for collaboration and engagement as it allows real-time feedback and conversation.

Examples of synchronous learning:

  • Webinar
  • Live discussions or chats
  • Live online classrooms
  • Meetings
  • Presentations

Many virtual training programs include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. They use set “live” hours every week with extra materials for students to review in their own time. This makes the live sessions more effective. Everyone understands the topics that will be covered ahead of time.

2. How do you keep people engaged during online learning?

Keeping a virtual team engaged is important so they maximize the skill-building you’re giving them. You can read a list of proven ways to motivate distance learners in professional development. Start by practicing these tips to connect with your team remotely:

  • Nurture communication: One challenge of online learning is the lack of interaction. Create a sense of connection by encouraging your team to communicate and share thoughts about their training and other aspects of their lives. Here are some ways to improve communication.
  • Encourage a team effort: The physical distance in your team also makes it hard for impromptu collaboration to happen. Not everything needs to be a group project, but you can increase collaboration with encouraging exchanges, questions, and even brainstorming sessions. This helps your team work together.
  • Create ways to connect: Thanks to tools like Slack and other instant messaging platforms, it’s easier than ever to remain connected virtually. Many teams use these channels to imitate casual in-person exchanges. For example, a “Water cooler chat” room is an easy way to open space for casual conversation online.

3. What equipment is needed for remote learning?

Anyone with access to technology can attend virtual training. Most people also have in their pockets or on their desk the right kind of equipment to do an online course. Most courses require:

  • A computer or laptop, or even a mobile phone if that’s what you’ve got
  • An internet connection
  • Audio equipment, such as speakers or earbuds
  • A way of viewing documents, such as PDFs or other documents

4. What are the most common ways of accessing virtual training content?

There are multiple ways to access virtual training content:

  • Self-guided training: A lesson that each learner goes through independently.
  • Instructor-led online training: A semi-self-directed course but with a facilitator or instructor.
  • Recorded lessons: The instructor records a video to share with students.
  • Live streaming lessons: Using conference or video call tools (Skype, Zoom, Join.me, and many more), the instructor and learners meet to discuss a topic live.
  • Downloads: The instructor prepares PDFs, documents, and other files to easily share content for students to work.

Read about creating an annual training plan for your program.

Who can facilitate virtual training?

Often professors, professional instructors, peers, and subject matter experts facilitate virtual training.

But also people who are good at communicating with teams and guiding conversations can be good facilitators. They should know the material well, however.

Just like for in-person training, you should always look for a qualified individual, a strongly developed curriculum, and the legal credentials to back up the program. Read more about hiring skilled facilitators vs. training existing staff.

6. Is virtual training effective for professionals?

Yes, it is effective—if it’s done right. Some agencies define “virtual training” as emailing a PDF document to participants. That doesn’t have the same instructional value as an online course built with learning objectives, interactive elements, and assessments.

Many people earn full university degrees—from associates’ to doctorates purely online. They’re well-educated people who have the same dedication and knowledge as their counterparts who sat through classroom lectures.

Remote learning is especially important in some circumstances, such as in rural areas or during global pandemics.

7. What are the benefits of virtual training?

One of the main benefits of virtual training is the flexibility it offers to participants. Online learning programs make it easy for anyone to attend and complete their education. They can do it around their other responsibilities, including jobs and family life.

Another benefit of remote training programs is that costs are often lower than in-person training, especially in the long run. Factor in reduced commute times, books, out-of-home meals, and changes in your work schedule, and it’s easy to see why virtual training is successful.

Virtual training programs have become a go-to for professionals and are here to stay.

8. Where do I start when planning a virtual training program?

The first step in creating an online training initiative is performing a training needs assessment of your public health workforce. This is essential for creating professional development opportunities that will improve the knowledge, competence, and effectiveness of your staff.

Before you do anything to train your staff, find out what your stakeholders need from a program and what your employees need to learn. This will help you create a program that has a greater chance of success.

Then you can begin looking at curriculum, vendors, and the best technology for your needs.

9. How long should a virtual training session last?

The average person can stay focused and engaged for 45 to 60 minutes before they need a break. Think about the meetings you’ve attended, and how long you’ve been able to sit in your seat without your mind wandering or needing to stretch your legs. 

The most effective online lessons are broken into chunks to make it easy to work through them. Building modules of 30 minutes to 45 minutes are a good guideline.

10. How do you guarantee success in a virtual training program?

The key to a successful virtual training program is keeping your learners engaged. Without that engagement, they won’t learn. Plus the return on investment won’t be good.

Some ways to boost engagement in remote learning are:

  1. Create check-ins to get participant feedback.
  2. Partner new learners with more experienced workers.
  3. Include stakeholders in planning and goal-setting.
  4. Create a team for your program, so you’re not the only one responsible.

Curious about remote learning?

Submit a question to a learning professional now. You can also ask questions on the Talance page on LinkedIn.

Moving Your Modules: Should You Use SCORM, xAPI, or AICC for Your Courses?

Portability should be one of your biggest concerns when you’re building a custom course. Being able to move your course from one learning platform to another is just as important as it is for your phone number when you switch from one carrier to another. You’re probably one of the agencies that has shifted at least some part of your in-person training or meeting to online. So even though this seems like a topic meant for the IT department, it’s something you should understand at least in its basic form.

There are a few technologies that make this possible in varying degrees of availability and ease. Here’s a quick breakdown of these acronyms so you can be informed when you make a decision about how your next custom course is built. You’ll probably be using these terms when you’re evaluating your existing or new platform during a needs assessment.

Important Distance Learning Acronyms

  • LMS
  • SCORM
  • AICC
  • xAPI

What is an LMS?

The first acronym to decode before diving in is LMS, or learning management system. An LMS is the software platform that lets you run a course, lets your learners take courses, and provides tracking, reporting, registering, and other functions.

LMSs are important for online training the way that cars are important for driving. They let you do all the managing–or learning—right from your computer. Without them, you’re just sending file attachments.

Think of the LMS as the container for one or more online courses. This way you’ll have some context for thinking about how courses work on these platforms. Some of the most common standards for creating online courses for delivery on an LMS follow.

SCORM

Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a technical standard for building online learning objects. These objects are usually online courses, but they don’t have to be.

If a course is built to be SCORM-compliant, it means that it should work smoothly with any LMS that supports that standard. Any SCORM-compliant course can be plugged into any SCORM-compliant LMS. So you can have one custom course that was built to be SCORM compliant, zip it up, and then unzip it on any other SCORM-compliant platform.

SCORM is for programmers—not for curriculum developers. It’s purely technical.

SCORM is the industry standard and is widely used. It’s a useful acronym to learn, because it tells you that your course can be moved around with the most ease.

AICC

Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) is a different standard for developing computer-based courses.

AICC is much older than SCORM and was widely used. It was more often used for other forms of computer-based training, such as CD-ROMs. It wasn’t developed for online courses and doesn’t have all the tracking capabilities that SCORM has. AICC isn’t used as often because of its age and limitations, and it’s starting to age out.

xAPI

XAPI is the third of the most commonly used standards for developing courses. It’s not as broadly used as SCORM.

One reason is that xAPI is new. It was developed in 2013 and is still moving around the market. It’s promising, because it supports tracking outside the LMS, such as offline learning. This feeds into better participation and communication. Eventually, it will be a useful way to make courses.

Which standard should you choose?

Choose SCORM if you’re looking for a new course to be developed. The industry is still mostly using SCORM, which makes it the most flexible and reliable option. Things will change in the future, but for now, this is the safest bet for new courses or conversions.

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7 Ways to Build Participation in Remote Training

Everyone is better at delivering training online than a year ago. But given the amount of instructor-led training (ILT) that’s moved to virtual training, many learners aren’t as engaged as they should be. Add to that disruptions while working from home, and it can be a good time investment to think about ways to keep participants engaged in remote learning.

Engagement varies widely, depending on the course and who’s taking it. And there’s no one way to make sure that your participants are actively involved. However, there are a few guidelines and communication strategies you can follow that will help make your training stick.

1. Ask early and often for feedback in multiple ways.

Asking for feedback is a proven strategy for increasing engagement. The best part is that you can ask for feedback no matter what format your training is in: if you have virtual instructor-led training (VILT) with a facilitator or if you have purely self-paced lessons. It’s simply a matter of checking in.

You can use many different methods—simple or complex–to get feedback from participants, including:

  • A forum designed for general thoughts
  • A survey at the end of the course
  • Polls throughout the training. For example, ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module.
  • Asking for thumbs-up or thumbs-down emojis on your team chat channel
  • Direct questions about how the material relates to their work
what did you like best about this course

2. Make sure supervisors participate too.

Participants’ supervisors are critically important to the success of any learner’s training. Supervisors need to be included from the beginning. At the very least, supervisors set expectations for training, answer questions and make sure employees participate. This goes for stakeholders too, who want to make sure their training investment pays off.

They can also take a more hands-on approach to training by answering specific questions that arise in the course. They can make time in the employee’s schedule for learning. With many healthcare professions, supervisors also need to demonstrate procedures or supplement training with information about internal policies.

Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results. Create a related course that supervisors are also required to follow.

3. Enlist peers for training.

Peer training is one of the best ways to drive home skill building. Top-down instruction is fine, but sometimes employees listen to their coworkers more closely.

This is partly because coworkers can relate to each other in a unique way. They have a good idea of how their job works within the organization, what their clients or patients might need, and other critical knowledge that might not be included in the core content. And peers can be less intimidating than bosses.

Peer-to-peer training is especially helpful in new hire situations or when you’re trying to build rapport among team members.

4. Set training and development benchmarks.

If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark.

One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement. These benchmarks can be coupled with performance reviews and job goals. They may also be part of larger initiatives, such as quality improvement projects.

5. Offer rewards.

There’s a reason so many coffee shops offer punch cards: rewards work. Think about what incentives for completing training will motivate your participants to finish. Make sure to focus on rewards rather than penalties.

Successful rewards we’ve seen are completion certificates or industry certification. Even simple public commendations for completion, such as on the company Slack channel, are surprisingly motivating.

Some other ideas are:

  • Friendly competition, including badges and leaderboards
  • Promising new equipment for use on the job
  • Additional training opportunities
  • End-of-course lunches for successful participants
offer rewards

6. Make it relevant.

Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too general or not addressed to the right group. Make sure training initiatives are aligned with organizational goals and mission first of all.

If you can, develop courses from scratch and after carefully surveying your audience. This will give you the best chance of creating something that is truly tied to your agency’s needs. Staff members also usually appreciate being asked for their feedback and seeing the results being spread to the company. Off-the-shelf courses can also be customized on screen, or they can also be complimented by instruction in the field.

7. Give help and support to those who need it.

Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course.

Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint coaches in the workplace who can offer assistance. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.

Originally published October 16, 2014, updated March 15, 2021.

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