For the 2016 Summer Camp Season at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, the Ruritan National Youth Camp/Jam took place on our premises and, as in years past, we provided an online training resource for their adult volunteers. The process was a series of PowerPoint presentations and a certificate that volunteers filled out and sent in. There was no test, but there was a “Standards of Behavior for 4-H Volunteers” that they were required to sign.
Training Needs Assessment
In speaking with Amanda, the camp director for Ruritan International, noticed the following issues with the current training:
- Lack of accountability – no testing process or proofing.
- Uninteresting presentation style led to lack of intrinsic motivation to participate in training.
- Lack of expectations, follow-up, testing, and grading factors reduced influence of extrinsic motivation.
Because of these shortcomings, volunteers were not fully equipped for their stay at camp. In addition, the following requirements were in place:
- The training should be self-paced and easy to follow
- Learners needed to submit a form of certification with their paperwork in order to verify participation
- The “Standards of Behavior…” form should still be submitted with completed paperwork.
Training Development Process
I suggested the following changes to Amanda:
- A dynamic online presentation that can be used by most generations.
- A grading system that results in a printable certificate or completion page.
- Use of multiple media formats – not just slideshows.
- Compatibility with handheld devices (iOS and Android phones and tablets, Chromebooks, etc.)
I decided to use Easy LMS, an online course creation website, to engineer this updated training. Their software is intuitive and cost-friendly, which meant I could provide training to many different volunteers over the life of this online course. I also appreciate the ease in which users could access help from the organization. Over 50% of the Ruritan volunteers are over 50 years old and are not used to taking courses online.
From there, I worked with Walter Krae Heath, the Youth Program Coordinator at the 4-H Center, to source information. We included narrated slideshows, text, photographs, and videos to make the training pleasing to the learners. All content was pulled from current materials published by the 4-H Center and by Ruritan National, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Virginia 4-H.
Learners have the option of logging in to the system or completing this anonymously. I chose this optioning to meet those older generations who question online security and still accommodate younger volunteers who like to store a lot of information electronically (and who may be training with handheld devices like cell phones and tablets).
The curricula are divided into subsections, each with its own test: Responsibilities and Expectations of Adult Chaperones, Risk Management, and Medical Procedures at Camp. Each section has its own curriculum and the user can save their progress.
Tests consist of 10 questions in an assortment of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false formats. At the end of each test, I chose to include a just for fun question worth 1 point to lighten the load a little and remind the adults that this is still meant to be a fun time at camp! All tests allow for 2 attempts at passing. If the end result is failure, they are advised to contact the Ruritan National office to discuss other training formats.
After incorporating this training, both Amanda and I received a few phone calls with questions related to the user interface, but overall it was received well by the Ruritan volunteers. There were quite a few who failed on the first go-round and had to return to the start, indicating that former training formats were ineffective. Overall, this training will be maintained and updated for the foreseeable future as the training method for Ruritan National Youth Camp Volunteers.