For me as facilitator, it has been a very positive experience thus far, and convinces me that online training across multiple time zones is not only possible and inexpensive, but can provide a quality learning experience as well. Of course, this is not my first experience with online training. Over the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to take two training modules from EFCA EQUIP on this very topic of first developing and then facilitating online modules. Since these courses trained us by word and example how to make online courses highly interactive and focused on self-discovery, the learning experience was very enjoyable, and so much better than other distance education courses I have taken in the past. Since my first course with EQUIP, I have wanted to try training within our mission using the same format, and now I am in the middle of realizing that dream.
We are now in our third week of the online course for SEND team leaders. This week we are working on our job descriptions, after having discussed the essential tasks of a leader and the SEND Team Leader Profile in the previous two weeks. I have been delighted to see 16 team leaders from many different SEND areas interact with one another in the class forums, encouraging one another, asking questions, and sharing principles they have learned about leadership. We have participants from 8 different areas of SEND, and a wide range of leadership experiences in many different countries and contexts, so we have a lot of stories to tell. There is never a time when everyone is online (or awake) at the same time, but as long as participants regularly login several times during the week, the discussions can flow as each participant posts his comments in an open forum that all the class members can read and reply to.
But this will not be our only online training course. SEND U will writing other online training courses in the future. For example, our International Office is very interested in incorporating some online training into the Member Orientation Programl. MOP is the training program that all our new missionaries need to go through before they leave for their overseas assignments. Our MOP program director is now also taking a training module for new missionaries from EFCA EQUIP to give her some orientation to how this type of training works and how it could be combined with face-to-face training. New mission members need to bond and build relationships with real live people in SEND, so not all the pre-field training will be online. But online training done over a period of weeks or even months can delve into subjects much more thoroughly than we could ever discuss them in an hour-long or two-hour session during the time that the appointees are in our International Office.