We recently completed a very successful pilot of online training for regional innovation facilitators. Below is a summary of the structure, outcomes and how you can get involved in future programs.
This training was in response to strong demand from practitioners and clients for appropriate training, and recognition that there was nothing else appropriate available. The modules were designed as per the purpose and principles in the overview to provide professional development for regional innovation facilitators. This training was specifically complementary to individual mentoring and practitioner action-learning calls and discussion forums.
Practically, each module needed 4 hours of attention from the practitioner to participate in a web conference, discuss questions in the online forums, and undertake practical tasks in their community that advanced both their venture and learning. Each session was designed and documented to the same standards as used in TAFE, specifying: learners needs, requirements, and the intended knowledge, skills and learning. We also deliberately developed the content and format to mirror what facilitators may deliver to ventures in their space or network i.e. participants learned about how to deliver learning while learning useful content.
The modules were designed as overviews, or as one participant called them "wormholes", where a whole domain of expertise was covered and where it may take years to learn all aspects. The content was contextualised specifically for WA and drew on theory, practice, case studies and a library of more than 67 documents (e.g. templates, blog posts, audio recordings) were provided to supplement participants learning. Module topics were:
- Module 0 - Facilitator induction: assessments and agreements
- Module 1 - Leading and learning: vision and values
- Module 2 - Effective relationships: stakeholders and communication
- Module 3 - Innovation fundamentals: stages and support
- Module 4 - Growing community: platforms and momentum
The four participants (from Albany, Bunbury, Port Hedland and Newman) expressed excitement that this training was available and extremely satisfied with its delivery: immediate post-webconference participants rated an average of 95% for all modules; post-module evaluations rated 85% overall, 95% for facilitator, 95% for content.
The training was also effective in being directly beneficial to their ventures and regions, as participants immediately put knowledge and skills into practice in their region. Examples include:
- New customers e.g. researching and reaching new audiences using new methods
- Business planning e.g. used templates and examples in a strategic planning session
- Access to resources e.g. found new opportunities relevant to ventures in their region
- Grew new networks e.g. actions to grow new communities in their location
For the participants, each was offered a debrief and mentoring session to identify learning wants and needs. These ranged from skills in curating community-generated news content to knowledge of the evolutionary stages of sustainable regional social enterprises. Excitingly, several participants and practitioners are expert in areas that others want to learn in, illuminating a pathway for cross-regional collaboration on delivery.
For the program, the evaluation identified possible changes to its intensity (e.g. one module per fortnight, less content per module) and potential to involve other guest mentors and presenters. There is also an option to make the upcoming 'Training Tour' in Perth and Geraldton a part of the learning modules.
Additional resources are required to deliver this again to a wider audience, and to extend the modules and library to new topics (e.g. governance and sustainability for innovation networks) and in more detail on existing areas (e.g. space fit-out and activation).
For those interested in accessing this training or collaborating on its delivery, please get in touch!