From Research to Capacity Building

From Research to Capacity Building: Digital Competences for international Trainers and Lecturers – An insight into a Train-the-Trainer program with Lena Barahona Neri and Karla Sosa.

How do we successfully transform scientific teaching from face-to-face to online? Which methods are helpful? Which digital trainer competencies are important?

Our didactics experts from Fraunhofer Academy have taken up these challenges and developed an international Online Train the Trainer Workshop to pass on digital didactic and methodical competencies for the scientific teaching community.

In an interview, Lena Barahona Neri and Karla Sosa shared their experiences from a Training, which they delivered in Spanish for the University Privada Peruano Alemana (UPAL) in Peru.

How did you come up with the idea of developing an international Online Train the Trainer Workshops?


At Fraunhofer Academy we continuously notice that competencies, challenges, demands and requirements of scientific trainings are different from other trainings. This became even more aware due to the Covid19 pandemic when most face-to-face seminars suddenly had to be conducted online. Online trainings bring a whole new set of challenges for trainers: How do I maintain the attention span of my participants? Which tools are suitable for my training? How can I methodically prepare and structure my online event? In our Train-the-Trainer Workshops, we address these questions and provide our participants with a toolbox of methods, moderation skills, communication instruments and digital competencies to handle new online tools. In order to make this knowledge and skills available for international partners and interested parties, we decided to launch our program for the first time in Spanish. Our previous international experience was very valuable in this case.

What professional backgrounds did your participants come from?


Our program was developed for people that work in the context of scientific continuing education programs including among other scientists, university lecturer and training coordinators.

From our training with UPAL, we can see quite well that our target group usually has quite broad professional backgrounds. In this training, we had natural scientists, economists, engineers, psychologists, journalists and many more. From coordinators to lecturers, up to the university dean level, all share the same challenge: How to successfully deliver complex scientific skills and knowledge online in an interesting and motivating manner? Working with such a diverse group is especially pleasant, as the participants contribute different experiences and perspectives and we all can learn from each other.

What was the scope of the training with UPAL?


The training was stretched over three training blocks with 4-hour sessions each day. Thematically, the three blocks were divided into didactics, methodology and moderation/ communication. In group exercises, the participants were able to directly apply what they had learned in the sessions. This is an important step towards transferring their skills into their daily training practice.

This was the first Train the Trainer Workshop of Fraunhofer Academy in Spanish. Did you notice any difference from the workshops you conduct in German?


Certainly, small cultural differences are noticeable, but for us they are always enriching. However, challenges in terms of scientific or academic training in Peru and other countries in South America are very similar to those in Germany and Europe. In particular there is a high demand to create a transition from traditional frontal teaching to innovative and interactive online training. Participants have reported this and it is also confirmed by scientific studies that our attention spans are much shorter in online trainings than in face to face. So, it is even more important to involve participants actively and create a motivating learning context. We believe with our training we are able to pass on effective tools to counter this issue.

What’s next for your Train the Trainer Workshops?


The evaluation results of UPAL participants show that the content of our international Train the Trainer format is very beneficial for our participants – no matter from which part of the world they are assisting: A 100% of the participants stated that they would recommend our workshop to their colleagues. And they rated our program with 5 out of 5 stars. Of course, we are very pleased about this feedback. Therefore, we will definitely offer further trainings in German, English and Spanish for international partners and participants. The preparation for the next workshop is already ongoing.

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