Wednesday 8 March 2017

Why train? Why online? Pippa Smart explains how ALPSP blended learning came about...

photo Pippa Smart
I run quite a lot of workshops for ALPSP and other organizations, and I love the immediacy of meeting people in different companies, with different experiences and viewpoints. It is a luxury to be able to travel and meet people and learn with and from them.

However, pressures of work, costs of travel and problems of timing make physical meetings problematic – just today I had to plead off a meeting and video-in because of workload.

We work in an exciting industry where you could be speaking to people from USA, Germany, China, and Japan all in a day, and physical workshops are just not practical in such an environment – nice as they would be. This is why, about 5 years ago, there was a loud buzz about "distance learning" and I was involved in writing several courses for different organizations. They were all seeking to resolve the same problem – how to reach people anywhere, anytime. However, many of them were not successful because the model they relied on was – in effect – simply providing an online handbook for people to read in their own time.

However, there has been a recent resurgence in the idea of providing remote training opportunities with larger publishers looking at video conferences, virtual meetings, and online training resources for their staff – those in the office and those who work from home.

The new approach takes into account the following important factors, learnt from earlier experience:
  • There must be a set time for the training – a start and finish time, because people are very good at procrastinating -  anything that is not "urgent" and time-limited won’t get done
  • There must be an opportunity for discussion – contributing and sharing
  • There must be some interaction – simply reading or watching is an ineffective way to engage people.
And all this must be added to the right content – what do people NEED to know, and what is the best QUALITY that can be delivered to them?

ALPSP has been repeatedly asked about providing its training to a wider audience, and face-to-face workshops are – for all the reasons above – not scaleable (or economical).

So, when I was asked to help develop an online version of the Introduction to Publishing course we agreed that there had to be quality content delivered in an interactive, time-limited and focussed way. And so the "International Primer - Introduction to Publishing" was born. Taking all the lessons learnt, we have structured it as follows:
  1. A comprehensive handbook for reference (you can't get away from needing content!).
  2. An interactive webinar – discussing issues raised in the handbook and allowing for discussion and contribution.
  3. A quiz – to help participants check understanding of what they read and watched and discussed.
  4. Follow-up access to the trainers – for questions, comments and reactions.
We ran the part one at the end of 2016 and part two (there is a lot to cover!) runs on 24 April this year. We had some interesting discussions last time and (learning from that) we are going to devote more time to these in part two – do join us, it should be a fun event!

Pippa Smart and Simon Linacre will be presenting Introduction to Journals Publishing 2: An international primer on Monday 24 April, online, 10am EDT (New York); 3pm GMT (UK); 4pm CET (Central Europe).  You can find out more here.

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