After months of planning, designing and working, you’re ready to offer your first online course. It’s been a detailed process that involved buy-in from administrators and department heads and training for your staff. You’ve got the technology set up. Everything has been tested, re-tested and is as close to perfect as it’s going to be. Without a doubt, your team is ready to make the leap to computer-based training.
But are your community health workers?
Organizations everywhere suffer from too much introspection. In search of the perfect program, they often forget to consider the people they’re serving. It’s not uncommon for program directors to neglect conducting an evaluation of how their community health workers will deal with whatever it is they’re serving up.
When preparing for an online course, you must consider your learners and earn their buy-in just as you did from administrators and directors. Here’s how you can use a learning readiness assessment to increase your program’s chances of success.
Training opportunities and career development are attractive incentives for CHWs to remain at a job. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to prevent high turnover and retain the top community health worker talent in your organization. Learn more.
What Is an Online Learning Readiness Assessment?
In order to determine if trainees are ready for training, instructors must ask questions that help them understand what the trainees already know and what they still need to learn. For example, instructors might ask questions such as:
- What is the trainee’s level of knowledge?
- How does the trainee feel about their current skills?
- What is the trainee looking forward to learning?
- What has been difficult for the trainee?
This process is known as a learning readiness assessment. In the case of new training formats, such as online learning, you’ll also want to evaluate whether the learner is able to adapt to a different delivery. This side of learning readiness includes factors like whether or not they have internet access and how comfortable they are using emails, social media and other software.
These are all hurdles that can be crossed, but you need to be aware of them before moving forward. A little preparation for both your staff and the CHW trainees will make your course more successful.
Sample Questions for an Online Learning Readiness Assessment
With all the courses we build, we use an orientation quiz that asks participants to rate themselves in such areas as:
- Comfort taking an online course
- Uploading and downloading files
- Researching information online
- Sending and receiving e-mails
- Participating in discussion forums
Think about what kinds of skills your CHWs will need to have to successfully complete the course, and put assessment questions related to these into a “readiness quiz” to be completed before class begins. The results will tell students what to expect. They’ll also help you plan for extra assistance in trouble areas.
CHWs’ Internet Access for Online Training
Today, we may take internet access for granted. But many people still don’t have unlimited access to the internet. This is especially true for the communities that are most likely to work with CHWs. Remote or rural communities and those below the poverty line are less likely to have internet.
Your CHWs may be working in the field, living in remote areas where services are expensive or difficult to come by, or perhaps they simply can’t afford high-speed internet at home.
Use your learning readiness assessment to determine whether your CHWs will be able to access the course consistently. If not, evaluate the possibility of providing free wi-fi or help them find alternatives such as nearby libraries where they can access the service.
Computer Literacy and Technical Difficulties
In order to assess the learners’ readiness, you need to determine what skills and knowledge you expect from them. Next, identify the skills and knowledge gaps among the learners. Use this information to create a plan that addresses each gap.
An online learning readiness assessment will help you determine whether they’re comfortable with computers, familiar with the Internet, and able to navigate websites.
If not, consider creating resources such as flyers or posters outlining the basic steps learners will need to take to access the program. Be clear and descriptive, but not condescending. If possible, make how-to videos that walk through how to:
- Log into the platform
- Access each lesson
- Download resources
- Upload assignments
- Complete assessments or quizzes
- Participate in discussions
- Ask for help
Whenever possible, include a knowledge base with frequent issues and how to solve them. If this is your first online training session, track your learners’ problems and questions throughout the duration of the program and use them for future resources.
Another way to improve their odds of success is by providing support through phone or email so learners can reach out if they encounter any issues.
Planning for Accessibility as Part of Your Online Learning Readiness
If your CHWs need extra support to complete online training, make sure you provide them with the tools they need to succeed. For instance, include multiple formats to consume the content. Videos with closed captions, transcripts, graphics, and translated documents are some examples of how to help people learn the way they’re most comfortable.
Similarly, ensure that your course materials comply with requirements for different impairments. Color contrast and font sizes are crucial for those with visual impairments, while clear pronunciation and captions are essential for those with hearing loss.
Online Learning Success Begins Before Your CHWs Log Into the Platform
Many of the same reasons that might have made it a challenge to get your own organization to adapt an online program to train health workers hold true with your learners. Fear of technology, limited access to equipment, and a lack of even the most rudimentary skills for working online are common obstacles in online or hybrid learning.
The first step in any training program is to determine whether the trainees are ready to learn. A learning readiness assessment helps ensure that your learners receive the most effective instruction possible.
Give your CHWs the best chances of success. Contact us now to learn more about our CHWTraining subscriptions.