The changing face of humanitarian learning

Humanitarian aid worker learning at desk

For many years, those that work in international development based in remote areas have often struggled to access training.

NGO workers, disaster response specialists and journalists are often required to deploy with minimal notice: humanitarian training needs to be fast but effective and relevant. And this is often in a context of tight budgets and the challenges brought about from operating in remote areas.

So what alternative training approaches are out there?

Traditionally, learning takes place in the classroom. However, impractical times and locations cause issues. The nature of the job requires workers to be available promptly and often requires travelling in challenging conditions.

HEAT (Hostile Environment Awareness Training) usually takes three to five days to complete; it is understandable as to why this is a huge ask for those in this line of work.

A course like Hostile Environment Training, which has rapidly established itself as a standard in the sector, the immersive nature of the training includes costs such as training locations, accommodation, instructors, transport, materials, food and props.

With training needed throughout the year, classroom and location-based training can be a huge burden. So how do organisations that need fast, effective and affordable training avoid a huge hit to their learning and development budget?

“The ability of the international humanitarian community to provide this help is threatened by a number of problems, some new, some familiar.”

Lord (Paddy) Ashdown – Humanitarian Emergency Response Review

Can we deliver true-to-life learning?

Elearning offers hope, but the issue is: how realistic and relevant is training online? How do we create scenarios which are as true to life as can be? Learners need to fully experience certain situations to make the learning as effective as possible.

Can online learning provide that type of realism?

Recognised for ‘excellence in learning design’ at the recent Learning and Technology Awards in London, the ‘Frontline Humanitarian Toolbox’ is one recent example that aims to do just that: make online learning as realistic and immersive as possible.

Using Near-Life™ technology to provide interactive, role-play experiences, the courses reach out to those unable to take part in face to face training. Scenarios are designed and scripted alongside frontline aid workers and filmed on location with actors based in the region.

The course provides a basic grounding in humanitarian principles, situational awareness, personal security and stress management. Each module includes interactive scenarios to put learning into practice.

Most importantly, the course is entirely in Arabic a conscious decision by NRC to support national humanitarian aid workers based in Syria that cannot leave the region to access training and where international support cannot get in to deliver much needed training and support.

HEAT training

The elearning platform Resilience Academy brings HEAT training online, as well as offering NGO-specific courses on Field Security Management and Remote Security Management. Resilience Academy brings immersive, interactive training that presents learners with choices in a way that wouldn’t be possible through more static, classroom based exercises.

From personal security to captivity survival, the platform ensures some of the most challenging areas of learning are covered in a flexible way. The training raises awareness and builds resilience through interactive video simulations, using gamification to help embed best practice.

Keeping in mind tight financial budgets, Resilience Academy makes learning accessible, in a cost effective way. With consideration of time and budgets, Resilience Academy would be a great addition to a blended learning approach.

“Elearning has the potential to reduce overall training time by 40% to 60%. This helps businesses cut down on various expenses and also increase productivity, which in turn leads to greater profitability.”

Jonas Axelsson – Training Manager, eLearning Company

The Near-Life™ way

What’s important to note about training online, is that it allows learners to make decisions in a safe environment. Resilience Academy takes learners on an experiential journey using gamification.

The platform presents decision points which determine how scenarios unfold. For the learner, this will be as true-to-life as it can get (away from the actual job). The only difference – if you make the wrong decision, you have the opportunity to try again.

“Mistakes should be viewed as amazing opportunities to grow, rather than resounding failures that stand in the way of the learning process”

Christopher Pappas – Founder, eLearning Industry

With most of those within international development being time poor, Near-Life™ learning provides the scope to learn at your own pace. The training takes on a microlearning approach, with short modules and the ability to stop and start as you wish: anytime, anywhere.

Resilience Academy raises the bar for role-play learning, it allows you to track performance and provide tailored feedback. Through real time decision making, the platform continuously measures progress – allowing greater insights for both learners and managers.

For large organisations, progress tracking will provide all the relevant data to reflect on employees’ learning journeys.

Overall, Resilience Academy provides experiential learning online; providing true-to-life experiences in a safe environment. The course aims to refresh basic principles, covering key areas in less time for a fraction of the price.

Need to find out more? Get in touch with our team.

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