LISTEN NOW: DFS Capacity Building and COVID19 – Is online the answer?


Author: Sarah Corley

In this webinar, our panelists discuss the impact of COVID19 on capacity building and the role of online learning in mitigating the effects of the pandemic. Panelists were: Lutz Ziob, Founder & CEO of Ziob Consulting; Esselina Macome, CEO of FSD Mozambique and Professor at Eduardo Mondlane University; Thom Sinclair, CEO of Gateway Academy; and Paul Hobden, COO of Digital Frontiers Institute.

Face-to-face learning is currently on hold due to the Corona Virus pandemic and we are seeing a rush towards online learning, both from providers and recipients of learning. For the individual, online learning can be a great solution as it provides flexibility as to when you learn and it can allow you to virtually interact with students from across the globe. But factors such as internet connectivity, access to devices (laptop/smart phone) and the cost of data are challenges that some face.

For learning providers, online learning is not about just putting your content online but considering outcomes, quality, delivery and experience. Currently online is the only option in many countries and short-term fixes are needed, but generally online learning should be well planned out and will take time and expertise to build. The learning objectives and the learning experience you want students to have is a key place to start, along with the content and methodology for delivery. Those delivering need to know how to facilitate in an online environment, and appropriate ways to assess learning will vary depending on whether you are testing retention of knowledge or application of skills. You also need to consider the way your students want to learn and the resources available to them, high quality video streaming won’t be possible for some locations. Also factor in interaction opportunities, with faculty and other students.

For individuals and managers wanting to develop their team, some of the key questions to consider when choosing to study online are:

  • What is the outcome and does this fit your requirements and learning objectives?
  • Is the content relevant and interesting to you?
  • How is the course structured? Can you work at your own pace?
  • Does it fit into your time and work schedule?
  • Who is delivering the course? Are they credible?
  • Can you trust the brand? It is linked to a recognised education provider?
  • Is there the option to interact with the course tutor and other students?

The first step can be to try online learning, start something small and free/low cost. You can then build you experience and confidence with online learning. Udemy and Coursera are good places to start and offer a variety of courses. For digital finance specific courses, you can try Digital Frontiers Institute and Gateway Academy.

For learning providers there are platforms and organisations out there that can assist you with both developing and hosting courses online. Examples of organisations who can help build, host and deliver online training include: DFI’s Digital Learning Service and Gateway Academy’s learning service, and Ziob Consultancy.

When looking to the future, the panelists all felt that online learning is here to stay. Some of the challenges such as connectivity, devices and cost of these will reduce over time. The choice should not be online or face-to-face, but a blended approach that utilises the most appropriate format. For example, lecture style delivery can be achieved online whereas in-depth discussion and debate may be preferable face-to-face. We encourage you to take the first step to embrace online learning and develop the skills involved to learn and teach online.