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  • Nerida K

Celebration of Learning Awards 2022

Every year we celebrate the dedication of our learners and the contributions of our partners to literacy and learning through our Celebration of Learning Awards. Last month we celebrated Komal as our Outstanding Learner of 2022, you can take a look at her story on our October 24th post here.

Today we want to celebrate one of the partners from our Going the Distance and Pathways project, Sweet Spot International (SSI). SSI was the winner of our Outstanding Organization Award for 2022.

SSI is a small, close-knit team of specialists covering the fields of instructional design, scriptwriting, graphic design, and custom media creation (videography, photography, illustrations, and narration). They’ve been working closely with us to adapt our Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles (IWLC) program into eLearning modules for an online facilitator-led training.

Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles is a program FESA developed with Indigenous communities that helps foundational learners, people new to the workplace and people returning to work. The program builds on learner's strengths and incorporates traditional culture and language with employment readiness training to build their confidence and literacy skills.

We were lucky enough to talk with Linda, an Instructional Designer and Writer for the SSI team about helping us bring the IWLC program to an online audience.

Tell us a bit about working on this project with FESA.

This has been a particularly interesting project because of its two-part nature—first, the pre-session eLearning courses (which the learner works through independently), and then the subsequent online meetings (led by a facilitator). The eLearning courses had to function as both an overview of the content

to be discussed, as well as support and context for the online sessions. We greatly enjoyed the challenge of designing the eLearning courses and the online meetings to work with and complement each other.

Another enjoyable aspect was the opportunity to expand on the content in the facilitator’s manual and deliver it directly to the learner through the pre-session eLearning courses. Whether in person or online, facilitator-led meetings must, by necessity, be constrained to a limited duration. The more time that is spent on explaining core concepts, the less time there is for interaction and discussion. But with the addition of the pre-session eLearnings, we were able to offer participants the chance to have an understanding of core concepts before joining the online meeting. This allows facilitators to focus on the most rewarding aspects of facilitation—namely, encouraging interactions, leading discussions, and guiding participants in their learning journey.

One of our favourite parts of eLearning creation is when we are able to deliver content to learners in new and fun ways—often in the form of interactions, quizzes, and games. One of our favourite interactions from the IWLC program is a virtual “journey” through the forest, where they meet with various challenges (like a bear!) and have to use their knowledge of the nine essential skills to successfully reach the end of the trail.

What’s something you’ve learned while working on IWLC program?

The IWLC program has at its core a reliance on the strength, community focus, caring, creativity, and sharing that becomes possible through the “learning circle” format. With the SSI team coming from a more Western-focused learning background, we were fascinated to learn the history of learning circles, and to discover their cultural and practical importance. We became intrigued by the philosophy behind the circle, how it is a setting where everyone is equal and connected to each other, with equal status, where there is no “right” or “wrong” but only different perspectives. Where everyone in the circle contributes the knowledge they have (whether from formal education or life experiences) so everyone may learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives and grow as human beings. We worked hard to ensure the new, online version of the IWLC program both supported and empowered the use of the learning circle format.

What has been a challenge of adapting the content to a digital platform?

It was challenging to transpose some of the activities in the IWLC program to an online setting, especially activities that involved being hands-on or physically moving around a room and interacting with each other.

We were able to overcome some of the challenges by having participants go into breakout rooms on Zoom in small groups, which would be similar to having participants in a live setting go off and sit together for discussions. For activities that involved drawing or note-taking, participants could use the Zoom “whiteboard”—as opposed to writing on a piece of paper and then holding it up to share. And instead of using a flip chart, the facilitator could share a document on their screen, which everyone could see and annotate.

One of the advantages of a digital format is that it becomes much easier to share your work. For example, if you create a list of participants’ ideas for improving their workplace during an online meeting, you can send everyone a copy by email after the meeting has concluded. However, if this discussion were to happen in-person, participants would have to take their own notes if they wanted a record of what was said.

What do you like about the online IWLC program that has been created?

We are very excited about the online version of the IWLC program, because we are certain it will broaden the program’s reach and allow FESA to draw in participants from all over the country— not just those who live close enough to attend the in-person meetings.

We are also proud of how the eLearnings and online meetings interact seamlessly with and complement each other, providing participants with effectively double the chances to learn and understand content from each session. Finally, we are looking forward to helping participants improve their digital literacy skills in a way that is both fun and engaging as they make their way through the eight-session program.

Thank you SSI for your willingness to work with us in creating something so unique and tailored to us and the communities we work with. Thank you for your flexibility, creativity and the generous support you have given us. We’re excited to be able to bring our IWLC program online to reach more learners across Canada!

If you’d like to find out more about our eLearning programs and our Pathways project, please contact our Aimee Lo, Executive Assistant at FESA,

Pathways is funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.


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