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A Pilot Training Course for Capacity Building in Remote Areas

Massimiliano Stucchi — 24 May 2018
The RIPE NCC service region is vast, with its 76 countries and its MENOG, ENOG and SEE sub-regions. At the RIPE NCC, we try to distribute our face to face training courses across the whole region, but it is not always possible to travel everywhere. So, we decided to try something new!

The Problem

We put a lot of work into identifying the countries and locations where our face-to-face training courses are most needed, and we try to organise our schedule to make sure those are exactly the countries we reach. But we can't be everywhere we'd like to be, and what's more, our region includes countries we can't always get to for political or security related reasons.

As well as the face-to-face courses, our training portfolio also includes live webinars, held once or twice per week, which focus on topics such as “Introduction to the RIPE Database” or “Webinar for New LIRs”. However, although the webinars are a good way to learn about a specific topic without leaving your office, they're much shorter than, and so no real substitute for, the training courses. 

Another service we have in place on this front is the RIPE NCC Academy - a platform that provides full, free training courses on the RIPE Database, Basic IPv6 and an entry level course on being a new LIR. But again, these courses lack the interactive element so vital to the face-to-face courses. 

So, to reach out to people who aren't able to attend courses in person, and in an effort to diversify and increase our portfolio and delivery mechanisms, we decided to try something new - a full day online training course streamed directly from the RIPE NCC offices in Amsterdam.

The Pilot

Our pilot course was arranged to take place on 7 May 2018, in collaboration with the IPv6 Project Coordinator at YemenNet, and was intended to target engineers from local telcos and other institutions. As for the topic, we opted to base the pilot on one of our most popular courses - the Basic IPv6 Training Course. In all, we attracted a total of 25 registrations, with almost all of the participants following the course all the way from 10:00 to 15:30 Amsterdam time, which we consider a success.

Our goal was to perform the same training course we teach in person almost every week, and to get a sense of those areas where we would need to adapt the material and training techniques for the live online version.

Since our training courses are very interactive, full of exercises that tend to generate lots of discussion between the participants, we identified that this is an area where improvements and adaptations will be required to make it more effective for a fully online course. Other minor issues arose around the question of how to effectively use our webinar tools. These will require more thought and further testing from our side.

To give an example, it takes time to adapt to not being able to use a flip chart to explain an advanced concept, or not being able to see the faces of the participants while explaining a section of the course. From my own personal experience, I find it much more difficult to run a one-hour webinar than to do a full-day training course. But these are issues we're confident we can compensate for.

Next Steps

The next steps will be to discuss these challenges and opportunities internally and to assess the feasibility of conducting further courses of this kind. Our main goal in so doing is to keep providing capacity building to our members in the whole region, while still offering the best learning experience for all of them.

In any case, for fans of our face-to-face training courses, worry not - these online courses are only meant to complement our face to face courses, which we will continue to conduct for the foreseeable future. We know you all like and appreciate them.

If you want to learn more about our upcoming training courses, you can find the full list on the RIPE NCC website. If you want to take a look at the course material, and check our whole portfolio, you can find it here. Do let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts or questions on the pilot. 

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