Several years ago the recreation and parks associations of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut came together to develop a meaningful, community-focused recreation leadership training program. Recreation is recognized as essential for healthy living and quality of life across the diversity of Northern communities. The partnership, known as Recreation North, developed an online training program of micro-courses structured to meet the challenges of varying levels of access to training, technology, and connectivity; to be inclusive of culture; and to respect different learning styles. (For more on this project, see Sharing Our Story.)
Post by Caroline Sparks and Sylvia Riessner
Caroline Sparks, learning consultant for Recreation North, contacted me to find out about the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) courses I’d been facilitating with BCcampus. “I need to provide training for trainers who may have little or no experience teaching online or who may only have experienced academic approaches to remote learning,” she explained. “The Recreation North training program requires facilitators who can recognize the wealth of experience each learner brings to a course.” The underlying pedagogy and structure of FLO suited the community focus of her training program, and the open licensing meant she could adopt and adapt a FLO course.
We worked together to adapt the FLO Fundamentals course for the North by including a stronger emphasis on inclusive facilitation and Indigenous perspectives. We added weekly self-directed activities to encourage each participant to develop important digital literacies and fluency. Caroline developed pre- and post-assessments (based on the FLO rubrics) to help participants recognize the progress of their learning. Finally, we revised the content and resources to reflect community perspectives and Northern issues and streamlined the weekly Moodle books to provide more manageable unit guides. Additional references and information were available for those who wanted to “Learn More.”
FLO North launched in September 2021 with 10 participants. Due to various circumstances, only four learners were able to complete the course and earn a certificate. However, feedback during and after the course indicated our learners gained an appreciation of the ways in which cultural perspectives, literacy, and technology influence online learning as well as the need to respect the flow of life in the North, where professional, personal, and community life blend together.
Despite the impact of COVID, and different life and workloads, our learners reported that they made progress in developing the skills and understanding identified in the FLO rubrics. They found value in our weekly conference calls and the opportunity to connect with other trainers across the North. They also appreciated the focus on Northern learners and how trainers could use different pedagogical approaches, techniques, and tools to support meaningful learning.
As openly licensed resources, FLO courses can be hosted in-house and offer opportunities for cross-institutional collaboration and cost-saving professional development. Some of the FLO open educational resource courses that might be of interest for adoption are:
FLO Fundamentals (five weeks), FLO Design (four weeks), FLO Synchronous (three weeks), and a wide range of one-week FLO MicroCourses with topics such as Make Your Course Intro Video, Design with Liberating Structures, and more. For a full list, contact Helena Prins.
If you’re interested in adopting a FLO course for your needs, contact Helena Prins (firstname.lastname@example.org).