Being clear about what your learning objectives are

Other Jayne gives you a great steer as ever. I think being clear about what your learning objectives are at the start is a really important starting point.

In a previous job, I worked in VSO’s training team and introduced online learning as part of their pre-departure training for volunteers going overseas to work in developing countries. For us, peer learning and support was really key in the face to face training and we wanted to maintain this. Also we were aware that things aren’t always black and white in terms of the content and there weren’t always going to be right or wrong answers – it was discussion that was important and about exploring peoples’ attitudes. Maybe not to dissimilar to some of the things you might be looking at in developing training for befriends.

We plumped for using e-moderated message boards through VSO’s online volunteer area. This is based on Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage e-moderated methodology – you can Google her. We used Moodle, which is a free platform, although a bit clunky. It’s used pretty widely in schools these days. Volunteers do e-learning courses either side of two face to face training courses, with the face-to-face and online courses interlinking with one another.

I have to admit to not being completely sold on the whole online way of learning prior to taking on the project – probably prejudiced by my own learning styles! But it’s been really successful and gets good feedback from volunteers. I’ve moderated courses with participants dotted all over the UK, in France, Morocco, India, the States all at the same time – makes for some really interesting debate!

Happy to have a chat with you on the phone some time if you want – mail me directly to arrange a time.

I work for CHAS in Edinburgh, and am just about to trial online training for our volunteers, who are Scotland-wide. We already have a system in place for our staff, so we want to see how well it works for volunteers. This is to cover statutory / mandatory training (and some of it will need to be blended with face-to-face sessions).

As you’re also in Edinburgh, do you want to contact me direct for a chat?

We are also considering online training / E-learning for volunteers at The Blue Cross. I have a similar question I’d like to ask as we’re at a slightly earlier stage in the process! How do people decide which training / learning opportunities are suitable to be delivered online? Do you use any criteria to assess existing learning opportunities to decide whether they could/should be delivered in another, online format? All thoughts welcome!

At present the training is anticipated to be for telephone

Thank you for you reply at present the training is anticipated to be for telephone befrienders for isolated elders and has a very national span.

The thinking is to look at compiling perhaps a variety of ways to do this so sorry to be vague. It is a new concept for me and i would welcome ways of learning, platforms any examples of use etc from others .Challenges things to consider .

It would require helping volunteers to look at communication styles , bust steroetypes cover boundaries, reporting, support and of course check the volunteer has the skills and acquired through the the learning and induction process .

is that any use just need to get ideas from A to Z

I’ve not come across many examples of online training for volunteer managers that are specific to the UK, certainly not any that go wider than just one topic.

I think part of the problem is that many people still seem to be quite wary about engaging in online training. I know from experience of setting up this group how long it took for people to be comfortable engaging with others and asking questions online and I think that evolution in training provision is still ongoing. I certainly see and hear of scepticism when online training solutions are offered, even when these are much cheaper than face-to-face training.

Perhaps other countries like the USA and Australia don’t have the same anxieties, in part because of the distances involved in travelling to face-to-face training?

All that said I do think there is potential here and I think that if people can overcome their anxieties around the medium and the tools for delivering and engaging in online training there could be more available.

I am delivering a webinar with VC Warrington this afternoon that will be my first experience of delivering online to a live audience. I have also done a course for KnowHow NonProfit on developing volunteer roles which is available online at https://knowhownonprofit.org/studyzone/get-the-perfect-volunteer-creating-volunteer-roles

If you’d be interested in talking about delivering training for you online then I’d be happy to speak with you.

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Based on my experience of developing learning strategies

Based on my experience of developing learning strategies in a big private organisation, we used e-Learning for reaching the first level of skill required for a certain competency. To be more precise, the company had defined the various competencies and for each of them the level of skill required by his employees in order to be able to perform the tasks required for a specific job.

The lower skill level was awareness and the highest was mastery. E-learning has been extensively used for employees needed to reach the “awareness” level. It could also be a prerequisite for attending some face to face training sessions where attendees must have read and understood some preliminary information. e-Learning is commonly used to reach awareness about mandatory processes, risk and security related issues….

Having said that, a cost, benefits analysis needs to be made before starting any development of an e-Learning module. Volume is key, the more people to train, the better the business case is. A lot of courses are available on the market which saves development but you miss the opportunity to customise it to the specific needs of your organisation.

Finally, you have to make sure your target audience is ready to benefit from an e-Learning approach. Not only the tools (computer, network…) but the mindset. They need to be convinced about the advantages of e-Learning in order to make it a success. Unfortunately, I am not being able to provide a specific example with content relevant for volunteers but I hope this helps.

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Mini-blogs and discussion points

Hi there, Just wanted to point out a couple of really interesting pieces that have emerged via the social action networking site ivo.org If you haven’t already registered for this website – then do check it out. It’s a fantastic resource to complement the great discussions generated. And you can advertise your volunteering opps and events.

Currently, there are some thought provoking articles about volunteer involvement and risk – in particularly focusing on getting organisations to involve more under 16s. Take a look at the following blogs: ‘Feel the fear and volunteer anyway’ and ‘A request to those re-developing volunteer policies for their organisations’ to join in this debate and share some examples.

Also of interest is ‘Volunteering whilst under the knife’ – a fascinating piece on involving service users as volunteers. One which includes an indepth and very insightful response from a fellow volunteer manager about her experiences and learning in this area. If those topics don’t float your volunteering boat then there are plenty others on there that might. What are you waiting for?

Make a cup of tea and take some time out to read, reflect, challenge and share. Enjoy!

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I think this is a really interesting question

and as a trainer and training designer I am really pleased to hear you thinking about this stuff before you jump straight in.

Traditionally, on-line learning has tended to focus on more information and knowledge based learning – perhaps having developed from the previous computer based training packages often designed in-house by organisations needing to ‘test’ learners’ understanding of key processes and technical knowledge of a role. There is a huge shift now though to make the most of the interactive options provided by the on-line approach – the use of film, case studies, embedded power point, discussion groups, blogs and social media are just some examples.

So, with this in mind, you could make a case for any sort of learning being easily transferred into this format, but there will always be the challenge of how you replicate the ‘classroom’ experience. I do think it’s important with on-line learning to ensure there is a balance with either face to face or telephone/email/video conferencing contact. These aspects can be built in to complement what you are offering on-line and help you create a truly ‘blended’ learning experience. Remember also, that some learners will completely embrace the on-line approach and simply see it as an extension of how they would usually learn, reflect and gather information. For others, it will be about learning a new way of learning before they can even begin to engage with the content.

In terms of determining which aspects of your programme to start with, think about these questions:

  • How might the use of technology add value to specific areas of the learning?
  • Why do we want to incorporate an on-line aspect?
  • What do we want learners to be able to know/do/understand from this learning?
  • How can we ensure the content remains current and relevant?

There are many more questions I am sure, but hopefully these will be useful. And, a great resource for all things training is the website Training Zone – http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/ There are some really useful articles about learning technologies as well as resources and discussion groups. You will need to register to gain full access to the content, but it’s free and I would highly recommend it.

Hope this is helpful.

SUE

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We have a volunteer training programme

Hi,

We have a volunteer training programme we use locally. I asked the local organizations what skills they required from a volunteer joining them, and subsequently designed a course to fit those local needs. We cover things like Diversity and Equality and what that actually means in the context of the organizations they might be volunteering in.

Communication skills – with some emphasis on certain client groups and how communication has to change. Risk and safety, supervision and support. There are other modules, but our course is quite a bit longer than I think you’re looking at. Best advice I can give is to approach your local organizations and ask them what kind of knowledge THEY want the volunteers to already have.

Then equip the volunteers with information about their rights and responsibilities as a volunteer, what to expect and who to speak to if they have any problems. If you can get the volunteers to bond as a group, you may be more likely to retain those volunteers and keep them in touch with you.

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Volunteer Induction/Training

Hello everyone,

This is my first post so apologies if this has come up before. I’m currently working as a Volunteering Facilitator for the University of Cumbria Students’ Union and part of my role is to work with students to find out their interests and give them options for the types of volunteering they can do and the organisations they can get involved with, along with coordinating one off volunteering projects. At the moment when students register as a volunteer we send them an email with all the info they need to know about volunteering which is very lengthy and I’m sure no one really reads it.

I’d like to introduce some proper training so that we can retain volunteers and support them before they go to volunteer with different organisations around the area. Does anyone have any good advice on what sort of things would be good to cover in the first session with potential volunteers. I’d like to make it really informal and quite short but what are the key things people need to know? I’d like to make the sessions really interactive and any tips and examples people have would be very much appreciated.

Thanks
Kati

I’d strongly recommend talking to your local volunteer centre about this, and looking at the Volunteering England website.

I have developed a lot of induction materials and training for different volunteer roles, but they are all very specific to each organisation and role – frankly any organisation taking volunteers should be responsible for a good induction for them there, rather than beforehand – but suspect that is sometimes more a wish than reality!

One doc I have developed that might be of interest is a one-page “tips for getting the most out of your volunteering placement” – I have 2 versions, one for those long-term or never previously employed, and another more general one for those looking to add to professional skills and to improve their CV’s through volunteering – can e-mail it directly to you if useful? Would always recommend adapting it for your specific client group (students) though.

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We have volunteer visitors in many of our branches

We have volunteer visitors in many of our branches but it is not a scheme that they have to offer although it is becoming more popular as we develop teams of support volunteers. As such we don’t have a detailed breakdown in costs but there are several things that we do that can be used as a costing guide. The branch will cover the expenses for the volunteers and these will obviously vary according to the branch location. For all of our support volunteers (of which visitor is one of them) we now run a four day training programme that they must attend.

We are in the process of developing a national resource to give guidance to our committees about all support work and we also have a specific induction pack and toolkit for all of our support volunteers. All of which has a cost. At our national centre we currently have 3 people who provide support to this work, although this is under review. For one member of staff, while it is resource intensive currently due to a staff vacancy, their input is a percentage of their post, one post is full time and acts as a project coordinator and another is part time to do the training administration, although if you are running the scheme UK or nation wide I’d suggest that you have this post as a full time post. We are currently looking at the training resource that we need. Our training is co-facilitated by a local member of staff and national member of staff so this has a cost implication as well.

Depending on the scheme that you choose to run, number of volunteers involved and budget, this will have an impact on how many trainers you need and can resource. We are also developing some e learning tools which again will have a cost implication. We are fortunate enough to be a charity partner of the year for a company that is offering us some pro bono work on this for our first phase but this has the potential to have high costs. We feel that this is necessary however as we have a large number of volunteers who are affected by MS and due to the resource constraints we have and the length of the training sessions this can make accessibility of training difficult.

I’m sorry I can’t offer more concrete information on costs but this will vary from organisation to organisation depending on how you grade staffing costs, your printing arrangements and the types of venues you need for training. We are currently looking at the budget implications for this area of work to budget for the next few years. I don’t know if you have already but it might be a good idea to link up with MNDA, they have association visitors so may be able to offer you further insight. Best wishes

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The cost of running volunteer home visiting schemes?

Hi All,

Our Board are keen to develop a national volunteer home visiting scheme in which volunteers visit people with Parkinson’s in their own homes to provide advice and support.

At the moment I am developing a paper which highlights the resources, staff and support that is required as well as the various policies and procedures in order to facilitate volunteers to do this safely and effectively.

I’d very much like to present them with some costsing and wondered if anyone else ran similar schemes? could provide figures on how much a volunteer service of this nature costs to resource?

Thanks.

Not sure the scheme I run will quite compare as it’s a local scheme – but we recruit volunteers to visit people with a Visual Impairment in their own homes (may include going out together) on average weekly for about two hours – we cover only the City of York area. We currently have about 75 partnerships – some vols have two clients – a few clients have two vols, and there are always a few vols resting – that means we do actually average a case load of about 70 supported by about 75 vols. Vols are offered travel expenses from their home to the client and back – very few take them up – costs of going out together are met by the client.

I am employed for 27 hours per week but have a remit also to manage all the volunteering in the organisation – this probably means about half a day a week on that. Many of my partnerships are very long term so the hands on management reduces as time goes on – I do no formal supervision but aim to keep in touch with all volunteers and clients on a reasonably regular basis – vols are required to report on paper on a quarterly basis.

I have a volunteer who does monitoring visits to clients on an annual basis. We are funded to the tune of £18k (just taken a 4% cut to that level) – and we more or less work to budget which covers my (not huge!) salary and admin costs as well as sundry costs such as food for events, training etc. I suspect that we manage on a pretty tight rein – it will be interesting to see how others compare!

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