Training Methodology - Active Learning Methods
The new training programmes which have come on stream in the last few years as part of a process of diversifying the training offer, were strictly associated with a major review of teaching methods already reported to previous Committee meetings. The majority of programmes dealt with specific subject areas, incorporating a component of training methodology throughout the course, based on active learning methods. This participant-centred approach encouraged the full participation of each course member in programme activities, validated trade union experiences brought by participants to the course and contributed by assisting the trainers into delivering the technical component of the course.
A continuous effort has been made to be responsive to the training needs of participants. Programme delivery based on active learning methods requires that courses begin by drawing on the experience, skills, knowledge, and attitudes of participants. A country report is always prepared by participants and sent via e-mail to the ILO Turin Centre. Country reports are discussed in the first sessions of the course. In some courses participants, before reaching the Centre, are invited to introduce themselves using a mailing list. Later on, when participants reach the Centre, they are introduced to the SoliComm system and they are trained to work in conferences. This on-line education system offers great potentials for continuing the process of education after the residential course.
This comparative analysis of the different countries/sub-regions represented in the programme is the first step in calibrating the training needs and, consequently, the training objectives of the course with the participants. The assumption behind this review process is to make sure that training objectives are related to the subsequent technical content of the programme with suitable teaching methods.
This approach leads to continuous adaptation of the course pace/content within the group and with the trainers. In other words, trainers are responsive to participants' needs which arise during the development of the programme. Thus, there is the possibility of fine-tuning training needs/objectives. At the beginning of each course a comparative exercise between the different trade union structures and, in particular, on the specific problems related to the course topic, is then developed by course participants alongside the presentation of the ILO/ACTRAV, international labour standards, with a focus on freedom of association, globalization and workers' rights, gender and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its follow-up.<>The programme content is always presented with subject specific training materials prepared by the Programme (training packages) and the trainers. A great number of practical exercises accompany the presentation of subject matters in order to facilitate assimilation and exchange of experiences/information between course participants and trainers. This approach gives a high degree of responsiveness to the programme and encourages participants to apply the results of the course work to their trade unions. The ultimate phase of the programme at the Centre is the preparation of work-plans for national/local implementation. They are usually prepared by all course participants prior to the study visit to the ILO and to a major trade union centre taking place during the last week of the course. The implementation of this approach, based on active learning training methods, is continuously monitored by means of course meetings and weekly evaluations.
A large variety of teaching methods were used in the Programme such as role playing and case studies. Almost all exercises were developed by dividing participants into small groups, with the exception of final work-plans prepared by each participant for his/her own organization. >Reports presented in plenary sessions, as well as further comments/advice of the trainers, were recorded and included in the training packages provided to participants at the end of the course. With the development of the ACTRAV website, all the Programme residential courses and on-line courses are linked to a complete description of courses (course description, timetables, list of participants) and they also contain activity files that are related to the course, such as regional/subregional reports and participants' work plans.
More information and details on course descriptions, timetables, list of participants and course work as well as resource material made available in the training programmes can be found on the ACTRAV website.
Audio-visual aids and network stations connected to the Internet, for file sharing, group work (presentation of course activity reports) and the research of information, were used in the Programme, in order to facilitate the presentation of course topics.
This methodology has been extended to all programmes in the various languages and to those activities jointly promoted with other technical programmes
Use of Computer Communications
The Programme also has been making continuous efforts in maximizing training outputs and impacts by applying new innovative approaches. Our focuses are divided into the four main phases of training – planning phase, preparation phase, delivery phase and follow-up phase. The development of information technologies has offered us a great tool to improve our direct communications with the participants during the preparation and follow-up phases. The SoliComm – a computer communication platform for trade unions developed by the Programme – is used to organize, for example, pre-course orientation via e-mail mailing list and post-course follow-up discussion via online conference.