Participants’ observations on online UFPO eManagement Course

Participants’ observations on online UFPO eManagement Course

The scale up of DGFP eMIS was hampered by the onset of COVD-19. DGFP postponed many training programs between April and June 2020 due to government imposed general holidays, restricted travel and measures of social distancing in place. In June, the DGFP decided to go ahead with training for the Upazila Family Planning Officers (UFPO) using virtual classrooms. The eMIS partners developed online course materials using Moodle, an open source learning management system or LMS.

The training on UPFO eManagement Systems and Monitoring tools for the managers was held on 25 June 2020. A total of 25 UFPOs from three hill districts, namely, Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachari, attended the training course together with two Deputy Directors, Family Planning. In these districts, training on FWAs eRegister and FPIs eSupervision system were conducted before March 2020. The training course on 25 June went well. The eMIS partners and DGFP officials together with the M&E experts conducted the training virtually. After training, a questionnaire, developed using Google Forms, was circulated to the participants by email. All the 27 participants responded to the questionnaire.

The questionnaire included some background questions. The respondents were asked whether the FWAs and the FPIs in their area had been using the FWA eRegister and FPI eSupervision System. Out of 27 respondents, 24 replied that FWAs had been using the system and 22 replied that the FPIS had been using the tools. It is noted that due to leave, vacancies and transfers, etc., a few users may not use the system in any given area. The questionnaire had several sections and responses are organized accordingly.

Pre-training activities

The DGFP took adequate preparations for organizing the training. They contacted the district managers and the trainees and informed them to connect using Microsoft Team, the software the DGFP is using for video conferencing. They were given usernames and passwords. The DGFP trainers explained the requirement of training and created the environment for conducting the virtual training from Dhaka. The participants were also given links to the Moodle site (located in icddr,b) and were requested to review the materials. The use of Moodle LMS made it possible to make the training materials available online and orient the trainees on the training curricula much before the actual training. The respondents were asked whether they were contacted by the DGFP before and if so what were they asked to do. A total of 26 out of 27 mentioned that they were contacted. It is clear from their responses that they were properly briefed about the program and were instructed to take preparations for making the training successful, as can be seen from their responses in the chart.

Stability of Internet connection

The participants required Internet connectivity for participation. Issues with connectivity are common in rural areas, especially in the hill districts. In spite of some hiccups, the participants remain connected and were able to participate in the training. Four out of 27 participants faced problems, while 10 had some problems and 12 had no problems at all.

Session structure

The participants were asked to comment on the structure of the session, such as: use of Moodle LMS, videos, presentations and interactive sessions with lecture. A total of 26% found it overall good, whereas 44% as good, and the rest (30%) as extremely good. No negative remarks were reported.

Size of groups

All the trainees were assembled together for the opening session and the closing session. Actual training sessions were conducted in three smaller groups based on the districts of the participants. The participants were requested to comment on the size of the group for organizing the trainings in future. The majority or 14 representing 52% favored group size of 5-6, while six or 22%, preferred a group size of 10. The remaining seven participants, representing 26%, responded that any size was acceptable.

Quality of learning materials

The learning materials in the Moodle included presentation, videos, and quizzes. The Moodle course was followed by an online live demonstration where the trainers interacted with the participants. They explained the eMIS tools and answered queries. The quality of presentation and videos were assessed by the respondents.

Online LMS tools offer a host of choices for organizing course materials. Quizzes are a welcome feature for such courses. The trainees were asked whether they have responded to the quizzes. It was found that 17 of them answered quizzes, while 10 did not. Those who tried quizzes responded positively about them.

Expectations from the training and their fulfilment

The respondents were asked to note (through a multiple-choice question) which elements of training they considered important. The respondents identified most of the options as important. They not only wanted to learn the tools for using it in their day-to-day work, they also highlighted the need of the tools for monitoring their field staff.

In response to the follow-up question on whether expectations were met, the majority replied in the affirmative. It may be mentioned that one participant, as we came to know later, actually had a problem with the device (not configured properly) and could not participate effectively.

The respondents also endorsed the duration of the 1-day course with 23 out of 27 making positive remarks.

Effectiveness of alternative online training during COVID-19 pandemic

The participants were informed that social interactions are limited due to COVID-19. However, there is a need to continue with the government activities and thus, the online course was organized. Participants were requested to give their views on the effectiveness of online training on the basis of their participation in the training. The responses were overwhelmingly positive (7 reporting as extremely effective, 10 as effective, and the rest 8 overall effective). There were no negative remarks.

The participants were also asked whether such online training programs should be organized for the FWAs and FPIs. A total of 19 participants representing 70% of the respondents, replied in the affirmative. However, six participants representing 22%, were not sure and two or 8% replied in the negative. The majority of respondents agreed to implement the online training for the field workers.

General observations from the respondents

The respondents made some remarks in reply to an open question. Their responses are summarized below:

  • The course should be fully in Bangla, even topic headings should be in Bangla.
  • Further training could be organized for FWAs and FPIs and there should be online courses on FPI and FWA system.
  • District office computer operators could be utilized for practical hands-on training. DDFPs can arrange further training in the districts using skilled computer operators.
  • Follow-up trainings, refreshers training should be organized in future.
  • There are differences between virtual and physical mode of training. Telephone support should be made available for solving any problems from the field during implementation.
  • There should be a stock of 4/5 tablets at the district level, which could be used in case of any difficulties.

Findings

COVID-19 has hampered regular government activities. It is no longer advisable to organize training involving large groups of 25-30 participants. This online training provided the opportunity to understand the breadth of the training and also the acceptance of online training. This training served the purpose of piloting and provided insights as to how such trainings should be organized in future:

  • Distance learning should continue for the UFPOs.
  • New courses should be developed for the FWAs and FPIs along with refreshers courses.
  • Trainings should be organized in smaller groups of 5-6 as this size could be more effective for participation and interactive sessions.
  • The language of the courses should be Bangla.

Conclusion

The onset of COVID-19 adversely impacted the introduction of eMIS tools. However, distance learning method using learning management systems provides an opportunity to continue with scale up of eMIS in more districts. The benefit of online courses using LMS extends beyond physical trainings as the training materials remain perpetually available on a specific site. Moreover, use of different tools helps the users to continue learning.

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By |2020-08-24T08:30:18-06:00 Published on July 16, 2020| Updated on August 24, 2020|eMIS app, eMIS Users|0 Comments

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