DPG Facilitator Tamasin’s Experience Completing COLF

The need to be ‘online’ is essential in my line of work, as it is for many people at the current time. As a DPG facilitator, delivering online learning events isn’t alien and dare I say it, I’m comfortable doing it. Over the last 4 or 5 months, many of you will have become extremely familiar with Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx and the like and you’ve probably attended a lot more webinars that you used to. The phrases ‘can you hear me?’ and ‘you’re on mute’ roll off the tongue quite easily and ‘zoom fatigue’ is a very real thing

Being comfortable delivering online events requires a different skill set to my normal face to face facilitation to be effective. As described in the BBC article, people can find events draining and when you’re attending an online event it’s very easy to leave. Engaging participants is crucial, as is creating content that meets their needs.

DPG became a partner with the LPI earlier this year and I took the opportunity to hone my online facilitator skills. DPG are committed to providing the very best learner experience and the LPI’s Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF) accreditation is seen as the gold standard. The method of delivery suited my busy diary, juggling work and a toddler through lockdown. Over 8 short 2-hour sessions, spread over 3 weeks, the LPI facilitator took us through good practice, all the time practicing our use of the technology. This practice is essential to successful online facilitation, and there was plenty of opportunity to do this on the programme. The LPI use WebEx but I really liked that I could use another package that I was more familiar with for my final assessment, but more on that shortly.

The group covered key areas such as tone and pitch of voice, participant interactions, slide design, font, how to effectively open and close sessions and how to manage issues. If you’ve been on several online events, you’ll recognise some of these – the unwanted guests (‘zoom bombers’), the participant who doesn’t want to interact, the audio doesn’t work, the internet drops off etc. This stuff wasn’t new for me, but what was most useful was the space to reflect on my practice. I was able to try new things and share experience and learn from others. This was invaluable for me.

In between the sessions we were asked to reflect on our learning and complete two short written reports (between 500 and 1000 words). We also had an opportunity to run a mini event in one of the sessions and received feedback from the facilitator and the rest of the group. This was a great exercise to help us develop the session for our final live assessment. You have 3 months to draw up a session plan and record a learning event lasting around 30 minutes, before submitting it for assessment.

I passed! Phew! I got my feedback report and as with everything, there are always areas you can develop in, so as a true people professional, it’s on my CPD plan. Achieving the COLF badge consolidates my experience and it’s highlighted some great areas of practice which I’ve already incorporated into my online delivery work. If online facilitation is something you’re doing more of, check out COLF.

Tamasin Sutton – DPG online CIPD course facilitator and HR subject matter expert.