How World Learning Pivoted to Online Training Programs During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the whole world was forced to pivot to new ways of doing things, World Learning was able to use its long-standing expertise in online and hybrid teaching and training. At the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference, World Learning staff discussed projects focused on professional development for teachers and workforce development, all of which had to abruptly pivot to online programming early in the pandemic. Their presentations reviewed the opportunities this presented to refine and improve programs as well as the challenges they faced in quickly shifting to virtual programming.

Lois Scott-Conley, education advisor for curriculum and training, presented on World Learning’s U.S. Embassy–funded Madrassa English Language Teacher Training program in India. Over the past three years, the program has offered a blended learning professional development program for traditionally underserved Madrassa teachers. The program combines self-paced, expert-designed online courses with local peer coaching groups. Scott-Conley discussed the peer coaching format, how the program is being carried out solely online, and research that was carried out to help improve the program in its third year.

Hamza Koudri, director of programs for World Learning Algeria, presented on transitioning the Bawsala Mentorship Program, which provides career training, mentorship, and networking opportunities for young Algerian women, to an online format using the Canvas learning management platform. Moving the course online required new methods for training mentors to not only manage the online course platform but also to effectively build relationships with participants and keep them engaged during a virtual course.

Dr. Radmila Popvic, senior education and research specialist, presented a case study that examined how a cohort of 30 English language teachers integrated technology in their teaching after completing a five-week intensive training. The study explored teacher readiness to implement what they learned, their confidence about their digital and pedagogical skills, and practical difficulties or contextual constraints they encountered in implementing course learnings.

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