Ricarda supports operations and learning service delivery at JRS Knowhow. We interviewed her to hear about her training inspiration, what digital tools she particularly likes to use and the highlights in her first year at JRS Knowhow.
What is your favourite hot drink and snack whilst working?
In the afternoon I love making myself a caffeinated hot chocolate, usually with oat milk and salted caramel flavoured. Especially in the colder months it keeps me warm and cozy.
What has inspired you to work in public legal education?
This might sound cheesy, but in all my political projects in school and university I came to the conclusion that education and learning is vital to changemaking. To me, education done right is empowering and transformative for everyone involved.
Similarly, I think the law can be an effective driver for social change, but the legal language can be difficult to access and understand. I see public legal education as a creative and critical ‘translation’ of the legal landscape. I enjoy being a part of the process of making rights something that is accessible to as many people as possible.
What is your top tip for designing more inclusive and accessible learning content?
Allowing for as much flexibility as possible. I often start with a learning framework as guidance. My current favourite is Universal Design for Learning because it leaves much room for creativity and adaptation, can be applied to most training topics, and has the learner’s experience at heart. I think it can be useful in different stages of the training development journey. For example, when bringing the first ideas on paper or when (re-) assessing the final training resource. It reminds me that learners are unique and everyone has their preferred way of accessing, engaging with and retaining information.
Following general good practice for accessible design is also a great way to give as many as possible the chance to enjoy learning materials. This includes using legible fonts and font sizes, adding ALT texts to graphics and making sure learners can pause any moving images. For guidance I usually look at organisations who are experts in accessibility, like Inclusion Scotland and their guide on accessible formatting.
What is your favourite online training “fail”?
A while ago I had set up breakout rooms in advance on Microsoft Teams, but on the day we changed the layout of the training and needed different rooms. I had to quickly google how to do this so there was a brief gap in the training. I was reminded that good preparation is important, but some barriers need to be tackled spontaneously.
What is your favourite digital tool?
I love so many! For facilitation and workshops, I have come to rely on Jamboard (or another accessible whiteboard tool) to bring some colour and visualisation to discussions.
What has been your favourite digital training experience as a trainer or learner?
I attended a training about wellbeing for changemakers by the Collective and the trainers introduced us to many different activities that supported our mental health. Going through them together and discussing our experiences afterwards helped me understand how the activity can be useful for me and allowed me to raise any questions I had. Some highlights included visualising our emotions as colours, shapes and forms and drawing them on a human form, or dancing the shapes of our names to bring some laughter into the (digital) room. I liked that we were invited to keep cameras on or off while dancing and doing it in whatever form we felt comfortable. This kept it more inclusive.
What training mode do you particularly enjoy?
Both in person and digital have their place and their advantages. Mostly I love making hybrid meetings enjoyable. They can be a challenge but when done right, it is great to have learners join in their preferred format.
In your view, what makes for a successful training?
Keeping the mental health and wellbeing of trainers and learners in mind when designing and delivering training. It is not always apparent how a specific topic or activity affects people, especially online and in training about rights and justice. It is important to be mindful when designing training but also include breaks and check ins to make sure learners and trainers are safe.
Who is your digital training inspiration?
Is it too cheesy to say the JRS Knowhow team? I genuinely have learned so much about how to plan, coordinate and deliver great training and learning projects from them. Their ability to ask meaningful questions and to put kindness and learner interests at the heart of each project is a great inspiration.
Otherwise, I would say bell hooks. Her books have taught me much about the importance of education for justice and changemaking and to incorporate care and respect into our training methods.
What was your personal highlight in your first year at JRS Knowhow?
There were so many, (really)!! One was designing a fun paper survey for an evaluation project. Together with the team, we devised a survey including a colourful postcard, star stickers, and cat stamps.
I also learned a lot from the opportunity to facilitate, from government project catch ups, meetings with our advisory board or an internal training session about Microsoft Teams.
For our project with the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre to devise learning material for creating positive working environments without sexual harassment or gender-based violence, I got to use my research skills and map gaps in the Scottish legal sector as well as existing work and evidence in other countries. I love being able to use my existing skills to contribute to such important projects.
Find out more about Ricarda on our team page.