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Digital SkillUp shares its approach to designing engaging trainings

With the market for online trainings blooming more than ever since the COVID-19 pandemics, training providers are trying to keep up by offering more and more courses online. But how are such courses designed? What are the collaborative approaches to the creation of a training course? What are the key aspects that allow trainers to work together and create a truly engaging learning experience? All these questions were raised and answered during Digital SkillUp webinar on the 23 of September titled ‘How to ensure an engaging training design?’. 

Dedicated to training providers, the webinar gathered over 60 participants to discuss how they can collaborate, as well as what approaches and methods they could use to design their trainings in the most efficient, attractive and engaging way. 

Arthur Tréguier from the European Commission’s Digital Economy, Recovery Plan and Skills Unit at DG CONNECT kicked off the session by explaining the background of the Digital SkillUp initiative. He emphasised that because of the rapid digitisation processes, accelerated even further by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need for digital upskilling across society. "Digital skills have become key in this new world and the Digital SkillUp initiative has a key role to play”, he said.

The European Commission has also recognised digital skills as one of the top priorities, and in its Digital Decade communication, highlighted two ambitious objectives for digital upskilling to reach by 2030:

  • having the maximum of Europeans with at least basic digital skills (such as connecting to online meetings, looking up relevant information and communicating digitally)

  • and at least 20 million ICT specialists with advanced digital skills.

According to Mr Tréguier, the online training courses, such as the ones offered by the Digital SkillUp, can contribute to meeting both targets. 

Following the opening remarks, Viola Pinzi, Digital SkillUp’s coordinator and project manager at the European Schoolnet, briefly presented the main goal of the Digital SkillUp: making the knowledge on emerging technologies available to all European citizens and SMEs in an accessible and easy to follow format, ensuring that they understand the benefits, challenges and opportunities of implementing new technologies in their lives and businesses. Additionally, Ms Pinzi explained the overall collaborative and community-driven approach to creating Digital SkillUp – From analysis and mapping with stakeholders, to instructional design based on feedback and supported by experts’ input, to developing the learning modules in multidisciplinary teams.

In the main part of the webinar, two Digital SkillUp experts – Megan Schaible, COO of Reaktor Education and Elements of AI and Liliana Carrillo, a founding director of the CollectiveUP and a co-founder of the European Digital Development Alliance - [KU3] shared their experience with a co-creational approach and steps taken while designing the training. 

Ms Schailbe explained that the first thing done for the preparation for the course creation was collectively defining the user types, i.e., looking at various profiles of people across Europe to determine their educational background, profession, level of ICT experience, language spoken, and then imagine their needs, motivation and concerns when it comes to learning about emerging technologies. Extensive desk research, which took into consideration data e.g., from OECD, Eurostat and Eurobarometer reports, as well as input gathered during two strategic seminars with experts, further informed the tool creation decisions. For instance, based on the available insights, the team decided to make Digital SkillUp a mobile-first, self-paced learning experience with bite-sized content, a friendly tone and providing practical knowledge. A similar collaborative, workshop-based process was used to determine the direction and the content of the courses, building the instructional design, adequate visualisation of complex concepts.

Both speakers highlighted the value that continuous collaboration throughout the course development had brought to the final product. Initial brainstorming, putting forward ideas and then filtering them through the needs analysis lens bore unexpected results which exceeded the initial vision, said Ms Carrillo. “I was particularly impressed by the graphical work that at this point makes the courses very easy to follow”, she added.

Undoubtedly, this entire process came with many challenges. One of them certainly was working solely online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; however, it was solved thanks to the implementation of various collaboration tools like frequent coordination calls, Miro boards for capturing and filtering ideas, shared documents facilitating real-time co-creation, and others. Another was the fact that experts in a particular subject may find it hard to distil that knowledge for people who have absolutely no idea about the subject matter. That is why working in multi-functional teams and assuming the attitude of open-mindedness and learning from each other proved to be essential in the co-creation process.

Ather the presentation, the participants were divided into four groups to share their own experience in training design, including important elements used in the courses and challenges encountered throughout the course design process. The participants’ discussions revolved around different aspects: from the credentialisation of courses to different learners’ profiles, engaging the learners in the online course to the extent they would stay engaged in classroom-based training, and finally, to the empathy and connection with one’s learner. As the next step, all the participants were encouraged to follow up on these discussions and in the Digital SkillUp community within the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.

 We would like to thank everyone who made the event possible and look forward to seeing you at future sessions.


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 If you have missed this webinar, the recording is available HERE