ICT Regulation programme goes digital in 2020
The restrictions to international movement and the guidelines issued by Sida and Stockholm University regarding social distancing precipitated a digitalisation of the Sweden phase of the programme.
How do you create an online learning experience while trying to keep the best of meeting and collaborating with peers?
The restrictions to international movement and the guidelines issued by Sida and Stockholm University regarding social distancing precipitated a digitalisation of the Sweden phase of the programme. How do you create an online learning experience while trying to keep the best of meeting and collaborating with peers?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic many activities became digital almost overnight. As many countries restricted both national and international movement people have had to work and learn from home. The ITP programme “ICT Regulation – Policy and Practice” is no exception. This means that the participants in the rounds 2020A and 2020B will not travel to Sweden but participate from their home countries.
The first Online Sweden Phase
During the Spring and Summer the SPIDER and PTS team has been working on developing a remote version of the Sweden phase so that the programme can continue as uninterrupted as possible. This will be the first online Sweden phase for the programme.
In the process of adapting the programme to the new circumstances one of the main challenges was to ensure that the various aspects of the programme do not get lost in the process of digitalisation. Any course of training programme that you participate in is not only the material or the lectures, there is also the engagement with the speakers and the interaction with peers. These three aspects have all been key to the success of the ITP programme so far.
Luckily we are not the only ones in this situation. The programme team has been working remotely since early March and participated in a number of online events. This first hand experience allowed us to implement a few of the key lessons learned from our own participation.
The main challenges in digitalising the Sweden phase have been:
- To adopt the course material to distance learning and maintain engagement
- Try to facilitate for the interaction that usually happens between partners
- Facilitating participations within the restrictions that are in place in various countries
Adjustments to facilitate focus
The first point above comes from the realisation that lengthy online meetings are tiring. It is not viable to plan for full 9-5 days online and expect participants to maintain focus. It is therefore important to vary the type of activities in a session and allow to change focus and engagement.
The second point underscores that different activities in the sessions should be geared towards allowing participants to contribute to the process and engage with each other.
The third focus is to provide participants with some distance to everyday tasks, and to make it easier to focus, SPIDER and PTS team wanted to provide a space with a stable Internet connection from which to join the course. This could be done through a conference room at a hotel but this depends on the social distancing requirements in place in each country.
Another change precipitated by the relocation of the Sweden phase to online is that each country team will only be working with one Change Initiative project. This was done to limit the length of the sessions dedicated to presentations of the Change Initiatives. With fewer projects we hope that it will be easier to stay focused and provide comments and suggestions.
While this has been a development in a force majeure situation the team had a chance to rethink the programme structure and reflect upon what have been the core aspects of the programme and how to maintain and develop these in a remote setup. It is with a certain measure of excitement that we will welcome the 2020A participants to the Sweden phase and we look forward to taking this journey into uncharted territory together!