Learning Leader

Thinking Inside the Box to Transition Trainings

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way all of us interact and work. The Children’s Learning Institute, like many other organizations, has had to reorganize and rethink ways to meet our commitments and objectives. One area greatly impacted by the implementation of social distancing measures is training. Transitioning from face-to-face to virtual training has become a priority for us. Thinking outside the box is usually highly valued in our pioneering environment, but recently our focus has shifted inside the box. How can we take our existing trainings and adapt them to fit inside boxes that house desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones?

CLI’s training staff have taken on this challenge and come up with creative solutions to continue to provide high-quality trainings to trainers across Texas, many previously planned as part of ongoing projects. CLI is known for conducting engaging training that encourages participants to actively participate. Through thorough review and interactive testing with other team members, our team discovered what worked and what did not when moving interactive training to a virtual environment and assuring successful transfer of knowledge when provided remotely. As part of the transition to virtual training, some activities were replaced with something completely different and often new because the previously planned activities did not transfer to a remote delivery method.

Our training team has a strong reputation for providing immersive and entertaining experiences for training attendees. Incorporating ways to engage participants from afar became utterly important. During the process of adapting the trainings, the CLI training team strove to incorporate ways to conduct an interactive activity every four minutes. They constantly considered what could participants do that would be both active and beneficial for their learning. Keeping attendee attention focused during the remote training results in greater understanding of the content and higher levels of retention.

So far, these adaptations seem to be well received. In mid-May, CLI used Zoom to conduct two cohorts of a three-day trainer workshop that included 140 attendees. These sessions, exclusively for trainers who support child care teachers and administrators, covered foundational training skills. Participants explored the new Texas Core Competencies for Trainers, key skills and behaviors that successful trainers should be able to demonstrate, through application of these strategies. Just last week, two additional one-day train-the-trainer sessions were also conducted through Zoom. These sessions introduced the Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines (ITELG), merging training content with new developed trainer skills. Coming in early August, CLI will host a three-day advanced coaching workshop to further their professional development, delivering this important training virtually for the first time.

Teacher taking online training at home

The virtual trainings offered this year are part of our efforts to enhance the competencies of early childhood specialists, including trainers, coaches, and assessors, across the state. A component of each training lays the groundwork to introduce a new competency-based certification system currently under development. Soon, CLI will launch a new micro-credential program for early childhood specialists through our online platform CLI Engage, integrated with the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS), our state’s resource for all early childhood professionals. Micro-credentials are in essence opportunities to provide learners with acknowledgement for the competencies they have developed throughout their career, based on demonstration of skills, rather than time spent in the classroom. Each micro-credential is comprised of badges that are linked to specific skills aligned to competency areas. Badges are earned by following a clearly defined assignment and demonstrating mastery of a set of cohesive skills. The virtual training and advanced coaching workshops both highlight categories included in this innovative new program that recognizes developed skills and awards those who pursue certification.

Trainer Core Competency Areas and Micro-Credentials:

  • Adult Learning Theory
  • Training Delivery and Methodologies
  • Transfer of Learning
  • Training Content Development
  • Monitoring and Evaluating Training Effectiveness
  • Characteristics of Effective Trainers

Coach Core Competency Areas and Micro-Credentials:

  • Adult Learning Theory
  • Characteristics of Effective Specialists
  • Observation Skills
  • Providing Feedback
  • Fostering Reflective Thinking
  • Demonstration and Articulation
  • Supporting Continuous Improvement

During this continued period of precaution due to COVID-19, there is still important work being done and progress being made. Moving our trainings to a web-based format may have presented some technology and content challenges, but it also allowed for innovation that might not have occurred as quickly otherwise. The hard work and flexibility required to transition better prepares us to face the uncertainties ahead and provide continuity for those that we serve.

Our team looks forward to offering additional virtual training opportunities in the near future. For instance, CLI will host a webinar on best practices in virtual/remote training delivery in July. Look for an email announcement to register for this free event soon.


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Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
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