GO research identified that self-study web modules are a very popular way for literacy practitioners and others to both offer and access online training. In fact, this approach to online training was identified in the GO research as the most popular training method, especially for not-for-profit organizations. Reasons for choosing to offer online training using a modular self-study format included accessibility and the demand for training about specific topics rather than a complete course of study. Survey respondents also noted that this approach generally doesn't require sophisticated technology to use, making it accessible for most computer users. Also, after the initial development cost, the cost of having self-study training modules available is minimal because the modules do not need to be facilitated.
If you do an Internet search for online training, you will find that there are many self-study training modules available all across Canada on a wide variety of subjects. Many are available free-of-charge.
Using this modular approach, the training host creates a website to house the self-study modules. The training participant then goes to the website to access the modules whenever it is convenient, just as you are doing now because this site is a self-study modular online training site!
A training website can be set up for public access so that anyone can use the training modules without going through a registration process, or it can be set up to require registration. It can be made available at no cost or a fee can be charged. The host organization can set up the site to track statistics in order to find out who is using their site and how. It is up to each organization to set up its training website in whatever way works best for them.
Self-study web-based training can incorporate many different features. It can be a website with only text-based information or there can be additional components such as podcasts, embedded video, graphics and more. When deciding what to include if you are developing this type of training, you will want to consider a number of factors including the cost of development, the topic, who will be accessing the training and how. If your participants have older computer equipment or do not have access to high speed Internet, for example, you may want to minimize the use of video feed that requires high amounts of bandwidth to function properly. Similarly, photographs can take a long time to appear on a web page for those with slow connection speeds, and this can be very frustrating for the user.
One of the benefits of setting up training using web-based modules is that you can add or delete information and develop new modules as needed. For example, when Community Literacy of Ontario created its Literacy Basics (www.nald.ca/literacybasics) training, there were four training modules. Now there are thirteen!
The GO research revealed that many self-study training websites were created through special project funding. For some organizations, it is not financially possible to develop and deliver professional development workshops or education courses using some of the more expensive technologies. However, developing and setting up a self-study website often incurs one-time costs that can be covered through project funding. Once the project is complete, the website is still available for people to use and ongoing maintenance costs are relatively low.
If you are looking for online training, self-study web modules can be very useful because you can access them when you want from virtually any computer with an Internet connection. You can pick and choose just the sections you are interested in, or you can complete everything that is available. Often, you can print out the modules, making them even more accessible. While some people like to participate in a group, others like to learn on their own, making this an excellent training choice for them.
Another advantage is cost. Self-study web modules are often available to participants at no charge or for a small fee. If you don't have the time or the budget to sign up for other training, you might want to do an Internet search to see if there is a self-study option available for the training you are looking for.
Technology in Action
Examples of literacy practitioner training being offered via self-study modules include La Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes: www.coalition.on.ca/gestion/.
Two interesting modules are “Developing Adult Numeracy” available through the National Adult Literacy Database at: www.nald.ca/tools/practitioner/dan/course/DAN.swf and “Adult Learning from Theory to Practice” at: www.nald.ca/adultlearningcourse/info.htm.
Literacy Nova Scotia has a number of modules that you can access, including this one about maintaining your computer: http://alt.ns.literacy.ca/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=62.
The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) has developed The First Nations Holistic Lifelong Learning Place (http://cli.ccl-cca.ca/FN/index.php?q=home&l=en) as an interactive way for literacy practitioners and others to explore the elements of their Lifelong Learning Model. The Model, and the Learning Place site, are part of a larger project called Redefining How Success is Measured in Aboriginal Learning, an initiative that the CCL is working on in partnership with its Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations. They have also developed a model for Inuit and Métis communities which is also available on the CCL website.
The Verizon Foundation from the United States offers many free online professional development courses at: http://literacynetwork.verizon.org. Click on “teach”.
Of course, there are also many self-study training websites available that are not literacy-related. One way to find what you are looking for is to go to a search engine such as Google and enter the topic you are looking for along with “online training”.