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For fifteen years, UpRising has supported nearly 5,000 young people aged 18–25 from diverse backgrounds to develop leadership and employability skills through intensive six-to-nine-month programmes

This Guide looks at how to prepare young people to take part in an online learning programme. It could be useful for anyone that is setting up a similar programme for young people or adults.

Steps to creating an online onboarding and training management process

You need to think about this from the perspective of:

  • Tools you want your trainees to be able to use at the start of the programme
  • Information you want them to know about how the programme will run

  • Making it possible for people to get this information: a) when you prompt them and b) when they decide to review something themselves

To get it right, you will need to understand:

  • How and when they go online and which device(s) they use

  • What tools they are already comfortable with

  • How they like to process information or instructions

UpRising did this using a process called user journey mapping. Their Catalyst mentors helped them map out what they already knew. They also helped them design the right questions to ask young people.

UpRising also looked at feedback from their previous projects and added that into the user journey map.

Their new map told them they needed a few key things to help meet young people’s needs

  • They needed to provide information in both video, and written form, and these needed to be short

  • They needed to have one place, with all the information available that young people could use at any time.

Many different approaches can work here.

You might use something as simple as a series of emails or WhatsApp messages. This tends to be most useful for people who will only use the materials when you send them or remind them. It can also suit learners who are not comfortable visiting a website or platform they don’t already know.

You could use a full learning management system (LMS). These allow you to keep everything in one place and track who does what. They also let you design interactive materials.

Or you could choose a community platform or knowledge sharing platform.

UpRising wanted a central place for all their materials. They decided they would use it for more than just their onboarding materials. They would store:

  • the programme participant handbook

  • onboarding videos

  • recordings of learning sessions held on zoom

  • copies of any resources shared during sessions

They called this store a “Living Handbook”.

They also wanted to be able to track what materials got used. And they needed a tool that would help them easily make short videos.

They chose Notion for their Living Handbook.

Notion is a tool for knowledge sharing. UpRising use it to publish web pages that hold links to all their onboarding videos and all their training sessions.

They like it because:

  • you can create web pages and databases without coding skills - they learnt how to do this through a short session with their mentors

  • it’s designed to be inclusive and its tools are accessible to most participants using a variety of platforms

  • they can use it for behind the scenes project management as well - syncing tasks and calendars

They found Notion was limited in what it could tell them about who was using what from the resources. So they used a tool called Zapier to create some “zaps” that could give them data about what was being used on certain Notion pages.

In future they may move from Notion to a networking platform or learning management system with more analytics available. This will increase costs though, so Notion was a good place to start. They could also try out Notionlytics, an analytics tool for Notion

They chose Loom for making their videos.

All their tools were recommended by the Catalyst mentors. They considered other possibilities and made the choices as a team.

You need to make sure you have people with the right skills to use the tools you have chosen - or a plan to train them up.

You need to make sure everyone involved in delivering your learning programme is comfortable with the new approach. Communicate clearly with everyone.

UpRising allocated different roles to different people. They adopted the Agile project management framework which included:

  • fortnightly sprint planning sessions where the project was broken down and prioritised into fortnightly ‘sprints’ of work
  • daily “stand-up” meetings, to make sure that everyone was on track and blockers were discussed collectively
  • end of sprint retrospectives to reflect on what had worked well during the past sprint.

They found it helped to be clear about their tasks, and created a system for managing tasks on the project.

They also made full use of the support they had from their Catalyst mentors.

For example, one of their mentors created their first “zap” which gave them some data. Then they trained an UpRising team member so they would be able to create more zaps to get different data in the future.

Many organisations are getting used to creating short videos. If you’re not yet, don’t worry. To make a video you only need to think about how to create materials that are suitable for your project. Then you can create guidelines for your facilitators and trainers in how to make the right kind of video for you.

UpRising chose to use Loom, which is a tool that records screen, voice and - if you want - a speaker image. It has a free plan that allows you to record videos up to 5 minutes long. 

They set the following guidelines:

  • Instruction videos should be short - up to about 90 seconds

  • Take care to close any sensitive or confidential tabs on screens, so they aren’t shown accidentally

  • Think about what is showing in the background. Keep it free from distractions or inappropriate material - or use computerised backgrounds.

  • Keep language simple. Use the closed caption option and check them for accuracy.

Then they built these guidelines into short training sessions on how to use Loom. They offered this training to everyone involved in creating onboarding and session materials.

You will need to regularly share the link to your store of onboarding materials and past sessions. Make sure you know how your trainees want these messages to arrive. Consider email, SMS, WhatsApp or other mediums they use.

To keep people engaged, sometimes share the link to the whole collection. But also share links to individual resources at relevant times.

UpRising found this approach very useful. Now their face to face training and learning programmes always have an online “Living Handbook” and online sessions.

Some young people have told them that online materials are great because they can get at them late at night, when the family computer is finally free. Others work nights and like to be able to use materials at the end of a shift.

Their priority is now to always be able to offer hybrid online and face-to-face programmes. This combines the flexibility and accessibility of online programmes with the sense of community and connection to like minded people and useful networks that face to face programme delivery can offer. 

Further information

  • For more on this Guide you can contact [email protected]
  • Want to try a programme like Catalyst Discovery? There isn’t another one scheduled at the moment. But CAST’s Design Hops are similar. Find out if there is one about to start on the CAST website.
  • We’re working on another Guide from UpRising about how they use tools during Zoom sessions with young people. Find out when it is ready - sign up to the Catalyst Newsletter.