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Virtual learning seems to have gotten the thumbs up from public officers, with many of them taking advantage of the online training offered by the Learning and Development Directorate (LDD) of the Ministry of the Public Service, in 2020.

Director of LDD, Fay-Marie Browne, said the response to the courses and webinars offered was “very encouraging” and the Directorate was currently working on rolling out more programmes for 2021.

Mrs. Browne told the Barbados Government Information Service: “Virtual learning is the way to go. The virtual approach has rolled back all of the restrictions to employees’ learning and some of them are taking full advantage of those available opportunities.

“For example, the self-directed learning (SDL) courses allow officers to study at their own pace, so they don’t have to ask supervisors for any time off, nor do they have to travel anywhere.  The Learning and Development Directorate hosted six self- directed learning courses- Developing Research Skills, The Administrative Function, Writing Briefs, Managing Incoming Correspondence, PRDS and You, and Report Writing – and each programme had more than 100 participants.”

The Director added that this new approach allowed more people to access the training than if it had been offered face-to-face. 

In addition, she pointed out that the LDD hosted 15 webinars between April and the end of July/early August 2020.  “We had 2,810 persons registered for those 15 webinars and SDL courses – that was quite significant because in the past, we had about half that number for the entire year when we did face-to-face only,” she stated.

Mrs. Browne disclosed that the Directorate was invited by CARICAD to make a presentation to our regional neighbours and to share the journey to virtual training.

“This was a definite highlight for the Directorate.  We not only discussed the achievements in this journey but the challenges which provided many lessons for us. One lesson which we shared that we took very seriously was our willingness to evaluate ourselves, so that with each virtual learning product, we diligently met and discussed what went well and the improvements needed,” she said.

The LDD was preparing to transition to an online environment before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Browne explained, but with its onset in March 2020, the process was sped up to offer a blend of virtual learning products.

She noted, however, that some face-to-face courses had been offered during that time because some were difficult to teach in a virtual environment.

Mrs. Browne again emphasised the importance of training at this time, saying the only way the public service could come out ‘on top’ after the pandemic was for employees to “keep learning together”.

She, therefore, encouraged public officers to continue to take advantage of the available opportunities to improve themselves.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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