The International Youth Work Trainers Guild together with partners are developing an online platform for the professional development and appraisal of trainers. After the success of the first three webinars about practices of using 360º assessment (view webinar recordings and results), on the 4th of September 2018 we hosted our 4th webinar to engage trainers community into conversations about the use of 360° assessment in trainers’ work. 20+ people joined the webinar online.
During the month of December and January research team of AppRaiser project was working to gather feedback from the trainers’ community to start a process of creating a web-based 360° professional development appraisal service for trainers and other training stakeholders.
The initial user research data collected from 23 online survey responses and 10 personal user interviews from trainers who are working internationally for at least 2 years and carry on several international training activities every year.
Based on the research we drew a detailed report for a platform design, and we decided to pick the most interesting bits for our international trainers community to share and open a discussion. The infographics present the results of the survey, in this post, we will contrast them with the data from the interviews.
First of all: why trainers use digital environments?
As it is presented in the infographic major reasons for using digital environments (By “digital environments” we understand such internet-based solutions as online platforms, digital tools or digital applications) are team communication, project coordination and planning training activities. Comparing this data with interviews, the answers were similar: main reason was communication and management.
The difference we spotted was that only 3 trainers (from 10 interviewed) stated they use digital environment for their learning and professional development comparing as its shown in the infographic to half of the survey respondents.
Secondly: in which digital environments trainers carry on their professional activities?
From the group of trainers that stated they use digital environments for professional activities, we asked what tools/ platforms they use. Both in the survey and in interviews the mention tools were similar. First place was taken over by Facebook. It is quite a surprise taking into account that Facebook is a social network and its primary mission was not connected to be a platform for professional activities. Next, on the list, we found famous and all very known Skype (communication reasons) and Google Drive (storage place and collaborative work). At the end of the, we found trendy Slack that as a tool for project management was already widely used in big companies and corporations and it’s slowly finding its place in the third sector and freelance world.
During the interviews discussing bit more about Slack we heard opinions that it got popular among trainers and started to be recommended all around and ‘‘If everyone else is using it so I need to use as well’ [interviewer]
Besides the pattern of a tool being commonly used very important was to note that the tool have to be easy to use, when the time is running no one wants to be bothered figuring out how to use it, when it’s simple it’s faster to internalise it with what we already use.
Thirdly: do trainers review their performance in digital environments?
During the survey big part of answers showed that trainers conduct self-assessment, feedback and review their performance online. Tools that they mention for doing it are mostly: google docs/forms created by themselves or a team they work with, 360 review (a business tool tested by the IYWT in a seminar in 2016) or Badgecraft.
Comparing it to interviews 7 out of 10 mentioned they use digital tools for the mentioned above purpose. Youthpass (4 interviewees), SALTO TOY profile (3 interviewees), Badgecraft (2 interviewees), ETS self-assessment (2 interviewees). Other answers were more individual about using ‘home-made’ questionnaires or using some national systems.
All the answers are quite different and that can be connected with different understandings of what are digital tools for self-assessment and reviewing. There are a very few environments/tools that are developed for self-assessment and reviewing purposes only.
And lastly: how about you dear trainer?
- What are your reasons for using digital tools in your trainers work??
- How open are you towards new tools for professional use? Do you think trainer community is ready for a game changer-appraisal service?
Please do comment answering the questions and contribute to discussion, we would like to know your opinion. For more information don’t hesitate to drop us an email on email@example.com
And feel free to see a detailed report for a platform design.
The most recent edition of the biennial “Bridges for Trainers” conference took place in late 2016 in Vienna, Austria. It allowed for more than 130 stakeholders in the field of European youth work training, especially trainers, to gather, share practices, network, and discuss current developments. The focus of the meeting was put on the political dimension of European youth work training.
Nik Paddison, a freelance trainer from UK with residence in Montenegro, participated and provides us with some of his insights:
Gather and meet
The end of November saw the 2nd Bridges for Trainers event take place in Vienna, Austria. More than 130 youth work trainers, National Agency staff, SALTO people, and representatives of the major institutions gathered together to discuss trainer issues and related subjects. The main focus of the event was the introduction of the 7th International Trainer Competence: Integrating a political Dimension into the Trainers Work.
While the main focus was on the political competence of a trainers work, there was another important aspect of this biennial event, that of a space provided for European level trainers and their colleagues to gather and meet.
Two years ago, I attended the first Bridges for Trainers event in Bonn, Germany, where the initial Competence Framework for trainers was being introduced. The introduction of the Competence Framework felt like a big step towards the recognition of trainers in this European youth field. There was a lot of discussion on how this framework could be used to support trainers both personally and in their professional development. Much of this was stated in the context of National Agency pools and of the different SALTO teams of trainers. The discussions were framed around how these different bodies could work to support the trainers and how teams of trainers who work together on a regular basis can work with each other to support each other’s development.
Pools versus independence
As an independent freelance trainer, I do not have such systems or at least I have a very limited version of this. I rarely work with the same person twice, maybe once a year for some of the organisations I go back to on a regular basis. I do have support networks and am part of different pools of trainers for different European youth networks and organisations, and am a member of the Council of Europe Pool. I am probably better off than many others in our field in terms of the amount of support I can access. However, at the end of the meeting in Bonn I made a statement asking the organisers to remember that not all trainers have such support and that many of us are independent freelancers.
This year at the Bridges for Trainers I met quite a lot of other trainers who are independents, who had been selected by various National Agencies or supported to attend by a SALTO. I felt that there was a lot more awareness from the organisers this time that we are not all in these Erasmus+ teams and pools. I don’t say any of this as a criticism, the reality is there are these pools, they should be there, they are necessary, and not everyone can be in them. The fact that there was more recognition of the diversity of trainers in our field I really appreciated.
office X-mas party for freelancers
Bridges felt like a place for European level trainers – regardless of status, position or membership, it was a place that shared current issues, approaches, difficulties and frustrations – as well as a place to learn with peers. It was not the main or official part of the Bridges for Trainers, but the opportunity to be there and to be among people who do more or less the same job is already a huge support and should not be underestimated. The moments of drinking a glass of wine or beer or playing a Ukulele, not even talking about being a trainer, are just as important as the sessions focussing on our competence development.
There are not many opportunities for many trainers to meet on a regular basis. Even if we are connected on Facebook and other social medias, it is not the same as face to face meeting. For sure there were moments of tensions, arguments, and disagreements. But knowing you are a part of something bigger, that is important and reviving and encouraging. As Anita Silva said at one of the dinners during Bridges, “this is the closest a freelance trainer can come to having an office Christmas party”.
Sources of support
What I want to highlight at the end of this blog piece is that the Guild is providing another source of support to trainers. Regardless of whether we are full time independent or part of one pool or another, the Guild offers a form of shared identity and a sense of belonging. The Guild cannot offer regular meetings for large numbers of trainers and that is not its purpose. For me it is a place to share discussions, concerns, issues, new approaches, latest P/political perspectives, to promote and represent trainers to the big institutions, and to further the recognition of our profession. It is a place for me to know I am part of something bigger than just me, my laptop and the next training course I am designing for an organisation somewhere…
About Nik …
Nik has a background as a youth worker from the UK. He is a full time freelance trainer, conducting training of trainers, youth workers, leaders, volunteers and activists in the European youth field. He also works as a writer, consultant, copy editor and wearer of odd-socks. He loves developing educational games, activities, theories and approaches related to the youth field in the context of non-formal learning.
These days he is living by the sea in Montenegro and trying to live a more Mediterranean lifestyle but that North European mentality keeps getting in the way! Having long breakfasts with a book in the sun, growing herbs (the legal variety) and playing board games are his main hobbies when at home.
pictures by Giselve Evrard Markovic