Dear Reader, Dear Educator!

You now are reading a Guide which support a pedagogical project related to an international cooperation. With the help of the European Union's Erasmus+ programme, five partner organizations have worked together to create a new online education tool to help disadvantaged adults developing their life skills and financial literacy.

In today’s digital world, finding new ways to engage learners is ever more difficult. When home technologies such as mobile phones, tablets and games consoles are highly advanced, widely available and hugely popular with more and more adults, finding educational engagement with technology in the training room can be even harder, especially if the technology deployed there is less engaging than that of technology participants use at home.

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The basic purpose of this Guidebook is to provide additional information to educators, trainers who would like to work with the modules developed by the project. We hope that the Guidebook will make your training work more productive and that you will be able to achieve your goals more easily by using the new modules and themes.

Trainers' Guide

Important information about use

The OLFA online learning interface is primarily used as an adjunct to life skill and financial literacy competency development training. It provides an educational aid for the trainer or educator who wants to use it, as a guideline and feedback platform for face-to-face or online teaching opportunities. It is important that the individual modules and topics are not suitable for the acquisition of independent knowledge, the presence of the assistant trainer and instructor during the processing of the study materials is necessary.

How to use this online learning platform?

 

- Read the introduction and inform the participants about the content of the modules.

- Select the appropriate module and start with the group for the first topic.

- After each topic, there are exercises that refer back to specific parts of the text.

- It is worth solving the exercises immediately after processing the topic.

- When you are done with the exercise, go to the next topic.

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- At the end of each module you will find a button that will take you to the page of the certificate of attendance. Fill in the information here as appropriate, after which the e-mail address provided will receive the certificate for the name.

- The modules are not built on top of each other, they can be done separately.

 

In the following, we would like to give some general methodological advice for effective coaching work.

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What is a trainer? Morality and responsibility

The role of the trainer is very responsible and challenging. Sometimes it can be difficult and exhausting. But it is always dynamic and needs constant focus and concentration. 

Successful trainers know their personal qualities, strengths, weaknesses very well and responsibly. They selflessly strive to give the most of themselves in the process of personal growth of their trainees, always paying attention to their needs and condition. Trainers are always assessed by the trainees, the community and the society, having a public role, working with people and fulfilling pedagogical/learning objectives. For this reason, the ethics, the moral and the responsibility during the performance of their duties are of a major importance for the results of their work. The most powerful tools that trainers possess in their work with others are personal example and inspiration, which they radiate and transfer to their trainees. By following and affirming their values and being authentic at work, trainers are capable to lead to a profound change in the attitude and the behavior of their trainees. 

The main focus and guide of the trainer is to always remember the main purpose of what he does - namely, to help the improvement of the situation of young people by supporting the process of their personal development and social advancement. The main principle which has to dominate the work of a trainer in the youth field is "It's all about them!" (the young people). And this is the direction which is important for trainers to follow when performing their duties and while modeling their own process of development and improvement. This is the direction which often leads to extreme exhaustion, working 24 hours a day, requires full mobilization and dedication in order to meet the needs of trainees. 

The principle of "distant proximity" is another element of the trainer’s work being close enough to the trainees in order to win their trust, but without crossing the limit of a professional attitude and upbringing. Accepting people with all their peculiarities, differences and individuality is essential for the creation of equality in the learning process. Maintaining the relationship with the trainees regardless of their personality demonstrates the level of such acceptance. 

The moderation of the group learning process, the empathy towards people, the ability to suppress conflicts and the constant dedication to the trainees and the learning process make a trainer а Real Trainer. 

The ethical trainer can be characterized as a person who: 

 

• Is a lifelong learner; 

• Is committed to her own (professional) development; 

• Is committed to the (professional) development of others; 

• Is aware of and helps to manage the risks that training poses for

  learners; 

• Shares knowledge and skills with others; 

• Is able to keep the right balance between proximity and distance to the

  participants; 

• Is openly self-reflective and critical; 

• Markets skills and programs accurately; 

• Is sensitive to the needs of learners; 

• Uses content and processes congruent with available skills; 

• Establishes supportive learning environments. 

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Key characteristics of a successful trainer: 

• An ability to show approval and acceptance of trainees 

• An ability to bring the group together and to control it without limiting or damaging it 

• A style of teaching and communicating which generates and uses the ideas and skills of the

  participants 

• Knowledge and experience of the subject matter 

• Organising ability, so that resources are available and logistical arrangements smoothly

  handled 

• Skill in identifying and resolving participant’s problems 

• Enthusiasm for the subject and capacity to put it across in an interesting and engaging way 

• Flexibility in responding to participants’ changing needs 

Here are eight tips to help you make the most of your online learning experience no matter where you are in your learning path/journey.
 

1. Set clear expectations 

Ensure that you have enough time to dedicate to your course and that you can consistently attend all aspects of the program, including any live teaching sessions. Aim to dedicate the same level of commitment and attitude toward your learning and task completion as you would to a regular, in-person course.

2. Check all technical requirements

Make sure that you are aware of all the technical requirements before committing to starting an online course, including any specific software or hardware equipment that you may need. If your course has assignments that need to be turned in, investing in a physical or cloud-based back-up system might be worthwhile. Try to back up your work regularly, including saving study materials so you can access them offline if needed, to avoid any mishaps.

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3. Have a stable, reliable internet connection

A reliable internet connection is vital. You want to avoid being disconnected, especially during live teaching, such as webinars or workshops.

4. Designate a study area

Your study area should be conducive to your learning. Ensure that you have both sufficient lighting to avoid eye strain and a comfortable chair and desk to avoid any discomfort. Choose a space that is quiet and where there are few distractions and chances that you will be interrupted.

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5. Get organized

Organization is key to successful online learning. Creating a study plan will help you meet deadlines and work around your existing commitments and responsibilities. Then create a realistic weekly schedule that you can stick to. Make sure you factor in some extra time for any unexpected delays. Setting yourself time limits can help make study sessions less daunting and more manageable. Equally, to-do lists can be a great way to help you to become more efficient and stay on top of your tasks.”

 

6. Schedule regular study breaks

Taking study breaks will help you concentrate on your learning. Engaging in some gentle physical activity, such as going for a walk outdoors, can help you to feel reenergized and return to your studies with more energy and focus. Try to take a break away from your study space and, if possible, avoid looking at screens during these breaks.

7. Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself with something you enjoy doing can be a good way to keep yourself motivated. Whenever you reach a set milestone or accomplish what you had planned for a particular study session, reward yourself with something positive. By training your brain to recognize that learning will lead to positive rewards, you will be more motivated to keep going and will enjoy your studying and all the successes along the way much more. 

8. Participate in online discussions

Online learning doesn’t have to be—and shouldn’t be—a solitary experience. Take opportunities to engage with fellow learners during online discussions or group activities. Remember to be courteous and mindful of your tone when communicating online. Avoid using sarcasm and write in clear, full sentences to avoid misunderstandings. These engagements can help you get the most out of your course. Swapping contact information with other learners can help you develop a personal learning network that persists beyond the current course.

 

Conclusion 

These eight tips can help you make the most of your online learning journey and reap the rewards of your effort and hard work. Whenever you feel frustrated or lack motivation, remind yourself of why you chose to begin online learning. Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way and to enjoy the experience.

21st century learning or skills 

Exploration of 21st century learning or skills has emerged from the concern about transforming the goals and daily practice of learning to meet the new demands of the 21st century, which is characterized as knowledge- and technologically driven. The current discussion about 21st century skills leads classrooms and other learning environments to encourage the development of core subject knowledge as well as new media literacies, critical and systems thinking, interpersonal and self-directional skills. For example, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills defines the following as key: core subjects (e.g. English, math, geography, history, civics) and 21st century themes (global awareness, civic literacy, health literacy, environmental literacy, financial, business and entrepreneurial literacy); learning and innovation skills (creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration); information, media and technology skills (e.g. ICT literacy, media literacy); and life and career skills (flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, leadership and responsibility). One main learning method that supports the learning of such skills and knowledge is group learning or thematic projects, which involves an inquiry-based collaborative work that addresses real-world issues and questions. 

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Things to Pay Attention to during a module / theme

 Goal of the session – With the introduction of each session we answer to the inner questions of the participants “Why are we doing these things?” and “What will be the useful result which I will receive?” In order to secure maximum level of participation you have to aim at every moment to keep clear the goals and the benefits to the participants of the activities.

 

 Explanation and assignment of activities – the clearest possible explanation at the beginning saves the time of later additional explanations. Separate clearly the beginning and the end of each activity. Ask if everyone has understood and if not – explain again. 

 Interaction – try to distribute the session so that 30% of the time is for the trainer (introduction of information, giving instructions, demonstrations, etc.) and 70% is for the participants (discussions, group work, exercises, development of something) 

 Mutual learning and sharing of experience and ideas – at each possible moment direct and encourage the participants to enrich their shared ideas and opinions. 

 Less but clearer topics (of separate sessions and tasks) – do not overload the participants with too much theoretical information 

 Diversity of methods for reflection and evaluation (feedback) - Use as diverse methods as possible to ensure reflection and feedback (the constant repetition of the question “How do you feel?” soon becomes a reason for jokes and leads to boredom and uniformity of the expectations). At each possible moment surprise the participants with unusual methods – to imitate, show without words, draw, sing, express through a melody on their phones, etc.) 

 Taking notes – write everything which impressed you during the sessions in order to improve your methodology and your work. Discuss the notes with your colleagues and apply the conclusions in practice. 

 Documentation of the sessions – develop the session using tables for description of the training modules. Keep an archive of the methods and sessions used. During preparation of training programs use your old notes to adapt and upgrade with new topics and content. 

 Asking of questions – encourage the participants to ask questions. If it does not bother you, allow the participants to interrupt you even when you present information. In such way you increase the trust and the feeling that you give everything you can to them and help them in the understanding of the material. 

 References – showing the connections between the parts of the material support the logic of the training process and reinforce what was learnt. The creation of connections and the return to the global picture is important for remembering and for better perception. 

 Conclusions and summaries – make summaries at the end of each activity going back to the objective. (“Why are we making this?”, “What do we want to achieve?”, “Did we achieve it?”) 

 Additional activities – ensure that the program has the following additional elements 

  • Enough energizers and physical activities – the program has to be vibrant, to have a balance between more dynamic and calmer activities 

  • Self-reflection – answer questions which were prepared in advance and are kept during the entire program 

  • Group discussion – evaluation of what has happened up to the moment with all participants 

  • Solo –time during which the participants stay with themselves and reflect on what was studied 

  • Review of the program and the task distribution – ensure the review of the programs and the activities