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Training Against the Odds

As one summer approaches, the time comes for the Studer Trust Teacher Training Center (TTC) in Mandalay to conduct its usual summer workshops with invited trainers for its active alumni. The workshop categories vary from arts and crafts, consumerism, non-violence communication, first-aid training, and more. Each workshop delivers the skills and knowledge they could apply in real-life classroom scenarios to expand the students' interest.

But for the year 2020, unlike the previous courses, there was a potential threat looming to hinder our trainers from sharing their knowledge. Take a guess, and you're probably right! The notorious coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had a major global impact on the ways we live and work. As COVID-19 advanced, the Myanmar government had to take the precautionary measures and control strategies to keep the virus in check. It affected Studer Trust TTC's ability to conduct workshops as large gatherings or crowds could quickly spread the virus.

After some brainstorming sessions, it came to light that modern technology could save the day. The TTC figured Myanmar's rise in mobile phone usage could be used to its advantage and started an initiative in the name of the Summer Online Course (SOC). The SOC consisted of a series of six video courses on the following topics:

  • inquiry-based learning

  • adapting teaching-learning aids for multi-level students

  • encouraging questions

  • informal assessments

  • creating a safe and secure environment

  • questioning

Online courses may be beneficial, but there was the concern that it lacks contact between trainers and teachers. However, SOC addressed this concern by making the digital experience as interactive and supportive as possible by scheduling live calls that allowed for Q&As and being available by phone and messenger to answer questions outside of the live calls. To keep students engaged and maximize learning, the attending 116 teachers were given an assignment per lesson for six lessons.

To our delight, nearly 90% of participants completed four out of six assignments, and 89.6% of the assignments submitted got passed our evaluation criteria. The feedback TTC has collected to evaluate the first ever Summer Online Course was promising. Here are some highlights:

“I like this SOC because it is very beneficial for me and my students and thank you very much for having a chance to review the Yaung Zin training materials.”

“The SOC improved my skills and knowledge as well as my critical thinking skills.”

“I am very pleased with teaching styles, plans and assignments. I would like you to continue conducting such kind of trainings”

“SOC gives me confidence to do more advanced work in the subjects.”

“I am interested to participate in similar online courses with Teacher Training Center in the future as I can do both my housework and the online course.”

It was an exciting experience and we are proud that the TTC was able execute this strategy. Of course, it's all thanks to the combined effort of everyone participated, especially our donor, the Wai Yin Association. With this being a successful example, Studer Trust will be looking forward to utilizing technology and bringing more online interactions and tactics in the future to the individuals and communities it serves.

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