Recommendation # 7: Online Training
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
We recommend a movement-wide online training platform (connected to the knowledge base from recommendation #2) to support both just-in-time recorded training videos along with real-time blended opportunities for human-focused learning that allow live questions, discussion, network building, and sharing. An online learning system or our Movement must engage the human-focused learning needs first, so this is not a technology-focused recommendation, but rather one that uses technology as a platform for culturally and diversity-focused learning needs. Both recorded and blended online training opportunities can help focus the sharing and capacity building of core capacities needed by stakeholders across the Movement, ensuring both knowledge development and maintaining / strengthening the human connections that are the focus of our how our Movement will expand.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
Due to the global nature of our work, financial restrictions around travel, lack of consistent access to resources, and stakeholder time commitments, we believe many volunteers who want to learn to better support their work and the Movement goals will otherwise not be able to engage in learning opportunities as a result of not being able to attend Wikimania or one of the other regional events.
We believe that for knowledge equity to actually happen, we need to utilize technology and blended learning solutions to meet people where they are located. A “build it and they will come” approach to in-person learning highly privileges only those who can either financially afford or take time to travel and attend. This model alone has already been abandoned by corporate learning solutions to great success, and we should build upon and adapt those best practices to our communities and across the Movement.
It is critical that this does not prioritize technology over the human interaction and engagement, as a technology in itself will not meet our various diverse learning needs. If it did, people would find the materials spread across Meta and do it all on their own, which is not happening and becomes a barrier toward active engagement and support.
People learn in different ways, though this often gets strengthened through live interaction and real-time discourse (one of the reasons the conference-oriented Learning Days is always full to capacity). However, to scale this, an online solution (like Wikipedia itself) that benefits from people working together both on their own and together is needed.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
There are many learning needs across the Movement, and many differences in how people need or want to learn. An online training approach will have two outputs -- the first being recorded learning videos and educational assets that will be located and accessible to anybody who wants to engage with them. The second output will be the opportunity and platform for learners to engage with one another in live online learning sessions, the ability to discuss / ask / answer questions / engage in community building. These two ways of meeting needs -- the first through a self-service learning through recorded media may be useful for some, while others will use those and then build upon them through engaging with one another on how to implement and make sense of them through the live learning interaction.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
We will have an online learning platform that will support both recorded learning videos and knowledge resources, along with the capacity to host live video and audio training and meeting sessions, along with threaded opportunities for ongoing conversations and learning sharing.
The intended outcome of this recommendation will allow for the uplevelling of volunteer/contributor skill-sets necessary for equitable movement growth.
We will need to develop a list or examples of trainings and resource sharing to provide examples of this work / initiative.
This can include a comprehensive learning approach including current status and gap analysis of needs. It can also include understanding what already exists and exploring ways to organize and make these available, both for asynchronous learning along with live, human interaction with the learning.
Finally, this will be done through a collaboration between assigned WMF staff and a community-led steering group. This will allow the project planning, design / development / implementation / evaluation to be done collaboratively, and not be perceived as a WMF-led initiative. This will be critical for its acceptance as the community representatives will be involved from the beginning.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
This recommendation will be oriented both toward Affiliates along with independent editors and participants across WikiProjects who are not members of affiliates. In this way, we see this solution potentially impacting all learning needs of all our stakeholders. All who wish to be associated with the Movement will have access to this tool, process, and resources.
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
This recommendation does not replace Wikimania nor regional gatherings, where in-person learning events and capacity building will continue. Instead, it will augment what is already being done and attempt to be inclusive of all.
This needs to be implemented with human-centric design, and is NOT a technology-focused implementation. This potential will fail if technology becomes its focus or if the proposed steering team switches during the extended implementation, then there is a risk that this collaborative implementation between WMF and community support will falter. For this to work, the steering group needs time for team formation and trust, as learning and capacity building cannot happen without engagement, transparency, and trust.
A related risk is that this may take a longer period to implement due to the need to involve representation across the community alone (along?) with software selection, installation, testing, implementation, and evaluation. Some of these tools may be an opportunity for open technologies, but how robust they are based on community need will determine their success.
We do not have a roadmap for how this may work with collaboration between WMF and the community, and as a result there will need to be facilitation of the process and its ongoing management that is done to meet the needs of all involved.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Ensuring that the learning platform involves and informs the community at multiple points and stages in the design and piloting process. While this may impact the time it takes to design and build, it would allow for the final product to be highly functional and utilized by movement volunteers.
Have an agile software development process AFTER having clear group formation processes to build trust.
We can then begin with small tests of change.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
This recommendation highlights the continued need for accessible resources for growth in the free knowledge movement. Currently resources are spread across various platforms and are only accessible if you already know how to navigate those spaces. Trainings that are only provided at in-person convenings mean that large segments of the movement will never have the same exposure as those who have the resources to attend. The introduction of a learning platform would allow a centralized space in which resources and community-knowledge could be accessed in one space.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
This could potentially connect to the Resources working group and the Technology and Tools working group. Involving the Diversity working group to help ensure this is inclusive of far-flung needs across the Movement will be helpful.
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?
All capacity building recommendations have been developed in response to the scoping questions and community input through Meta, local and regional gatherings, and collaboration across the Movement working groups.
This relates directly to our questions around diversity/inclusion as well as methods and tools. In terms of inclusion, an online learning platform would shift access to movement-related trainings from happening primarily via in-person programming and the platform would be a tool communities could utilize to help support the training of new volunteers and uplevelling necessary skill-sets of movement organizers.
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Potentially Technology (this involves a new technology not currently within the ecosystem), Diversity (to ensure multiple voices are included), and Roles and Responsibilities (as at least one WMF staff be assigned to project manage this).