Laura designs and delivers inclusive, accessible and fun training sessions about equity, rights and digital tools. We interviewed her to find out about what motivates her to work in learning, hear her tips for digital training sessions, and find out which snack you will find on her desk.
What is your favourite hot drink and snack whilst working?
I am often found working with a coffee and a Tunnock’s dark chocolate wafer. My motto when creating learning materials, is will the learner find this interesting enough to put down their chocolate bar?
Why are you passionate about making digital training and learning more accessible and inclusive?
I think we can probably all think of a time when we couldn’t access, understand or use the learning materials we were presented with. Especially digital materials.
I was taking an online open course recently and one of the exercises was to share examples of when we couldn’t access learning materials. I was really shocked when learners suggested they couldn’t think of any examples. There are so many that spring to mind!
Barriers might be that the materials didn’t download on a metred data connection. Or that the font colour compared to the background was illegible in dark mode. Or that the materials didn’t work using a specific internet browser. These are only a few barriers, there are so many more…
There shouldn’t be barriers to learning materials. Especially when they are about improving our understanding of what our legal rights and equalities mean.
I think because I am so excited about digital training and learning, this makes me focused on how to make materials more accessible and inclusive online.
What is your top tip for running digital trainings?
Plan in advance.
Broadly speaking the rule of 1:8 holds true for me. I tend to spend about eight hours prepping one hour of training delivery. This includes material development, writing up a shared methodology for a digital producer and having a practice run with the team. And don’t forget the review meeting, I am a big fan of the after-action review!
What is your online training pet peeve?
When people don’t enable the automatic subtitles on a digital meeting, so that individuals can choose whether or not to view them. I find it helpful for my concentration but there are so many reasons why people might use them.
What is your favourite digital tool?
There are so many to choose from! I mean really, how could you choose one from 300 in the Top Tools for Learning list?!
At the moment, I am really enjoying using Remixer to make cartoon like graphics. Think trading cards for introductions, post cards for training participants to send to themselves and timelines for PowerPoint presentations.
What has been your favourite digital training experience as a trainer or learner?
When I joined JRS Knowhow, one of the first internal JRS Learn sessions I went to was about trans inclusion run by Scottish Trans. The facilitator created a constructive and safe learning space. The stats they presented, the examples they gave and the tips they offered have stayed with me almost word for word a year later.
In your view, what makes for a successful training?
Successful training will look different for each unique training organiser and learner. Often, successful training doesn’t improve learners’ understanding of the topic, it actually busts myths or clarifies misconceptions that learners arrived at the training with. I recently busted a myth about why we observe Human Rights Day on the 10 December…
Successful training for JRS Knowhow might mean a few different things, beyond improving our understanding of rights and equality law. Learners might improve their digital skills or confidence. Learners might leave with more questions than they arrived with. Learners might feel inspired to share some of what they learned with friends and colleagues. Learners might even be feeling more self-reflective and aware of their own learning styles.
What inspired you to join JRS Knowhow?
I was inspired to join JRS Knowhow because the idea of starting a new social enterprise was super exciting. The fact that JustRight Scotland, our parent charity, is so principled and values driven was really appealing to me. It is also a really interesting time to work in the rights and equalities space, as the Scottish Government moves forward with plans for the Human Rights Bill.
What are your aspirations for JRS Knowhow?
That JRS Knowhow will continue to make intentional choices about learning design. I am currently designing our online learning hub which we hope will be a go-to place for people across Scotland to learn more about our rights. We are currently finding carbon offset hosting providers and assembling colleagues who would like to help us test our initial ideas. My aspirations are that all our learning design processes and products will be considered, co-produced and ultimately engaging enough to distract me from my Tunnock’s wafer.
Who is your digital training inspiration?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. It might be my online yoga instructor or family members who practice digital presentations with me. During the COVID-19 pandemic I was lucky enough to test a training session about kangaroo related injuries designed for a group of medical students!
At the moment, I am particularly inspired by Inclusion Scotland’s EmployerAbility training, The Collective’s workshops about topics like feminist facilitation, and the OU’s Learning Design team’s blog.
Finally, I am also constantly inspired by training and learning colleagues from across the sector in Scotland who we convene once a month for a roundtable. You know who you are!
Find out more about Laura on our team page.