Svenskt Vatten – a trade organization for the Swedish VA organizations – works to ensure that Sweden has clean drinking water, healthy lakes and seas.
Members include the municipal water service companies as well as Sweden's municipalities.
Today, the organization has 290 members and around 100 business partners. Education is an important part of the membership offer and approximately 2000 participants per year take Svenskt Vatten’s various courses.
Right now, Svenskt Vatten is in the middle of a big digitization journey linked to training, and has achieved great results in a short time.
We talked to talk to Sara Bohlinder and Clara Franceschi, two driving forces behind the training initiative.
Here, they share their journey and how they work practically with digital training, as well as their insights from the process.
Hi Sara! What is your role at Svenskt Vatten?
I work as a project manager for our courses. I’m involved from start to finish, doing budgeting, planning, staffing, recruiting of teachers, etc. I am also largely responsible for developing our training courses.
I work as a project coordinator and administer, among other things, all our courses. When the planning and production are finished, I come in and take bookings, post course opportunities, change course materials and start courses. I am also involved in the development of our trainings, focusing on how we can become even better and more efficient.
“Back then, it was just classroom training with printed course material. It was very time consuming and old fashioned. The teachers traveled all over the country, which cost a lot of time and money. Thanks to our digital working methods and our learning platform, we have streamlined and saved an infinite amount of time – not least for the course participants.”
Who do you share knowledge to through your learning platform?
Clara & Sara:
We’ve had our learning platform since 2019, which we were very grateful for at the beginning of 2020. Previously, we had difficulty switching to digital skills development as there was some resistance internally. But when the pandemic came, we adapted some courses online.
We currently have around 35 different courses. In the learning platform, Learnifier, we train our members' employees who work within VA. The participants are mainly operating technicians, and we have, among other things, a set-up with introductory courses in sewage, drinking water and pipe networks. Other personnel who need to gain more insight into the industry can also attend the courses.
Many of the operating technicians then go on to our various diploma courses. We also have specialist courses in areas such as welding or hydraulics which are more aimed at VA engineers. Finally, we also have courses in law and similar for a wider target group. For example, many people need our course in the Water Services Act.
Many entrepreneurs also attend our various training courses.
We offer a mix of online courses and physical training, but we always use Learnifier as part of the training, for example for administration and communication, preparation tasks, course materials, course certificates and course evaluations.
What does a typical training journey look like?
It depends entirely on the course participant’s role.
How was this knowledge conveyed before you had Learnifier?
Back then, it was just classroom training with printed course material. It was very time consuming and old fashioned. The teachers traveled all over the country, which cost a lot of time and money. Thanks to our digital working methods and our learning platform, we have streamlined and saved an infinite amount of time – not least for the course participants.
How have you created your courses? Who has been involved and why?
Creating content is a team effort. Sometimes we bring in external people, other times we create the content ourselves. However, our internal team is always responsible for putting the whole thing together.
What does the process from plan to finished course look like and what types of content do you work with?
Sara & Clara:
We start with the course plan, the learning objectives and the target group. The course plan is always anchored internally with Svenskt Vatten's experts. Based on the curriculum, we build a mix of lectures, discussions and exercises – this applies to both physical on-site training and online training with digital group rooms. Both physical and online, we can use Learnifier as a platform to work with exercises and submit the tasks, as well as to collect the course material.
To create an even level of knowledge, make it easier to absorb the knowledge and participate actively in the course, we usually include a preparation task. This can consist of a text or film, and preferably a quiz. Sometimes a submission task is also included.
In the production process, our teachers are responsible for the factual content, then we look at the exercises together and take external help if necessary to digitize them. We often manage to design the exercises ourselves in Learnifier.
Example of a movie from one of Svenskt Vattens' training journeys
What has been most challenging about digitizing training?
All courses are different and thus need different arrangements. We have sometimes had to find different types of workarounds, but here the support from Learnifier has been fantastic.
It was also challenging when the teachers were not full-time educators, but experts in their various fields. They suddenly needed to figure out how to use their “pedagogical vein” digitally. The ideas are there, but perhaps not all of them can be realized right now.
There are also those who may not be on board with how things need to be done. And we must get the entire teaching staff on board by putting ourselves on the right level, both for them and for the members. The pandemic has driven our digital development.
What has been the most fun?
Everything! I love working in Learnifier, our learning platform and it's great to hear that people are using what we've worked hard to build, and that they think it's great!
It feels good to succeed in creating something that everyone understands and finds easy to use is rewarding.
I second that. It's also great that the participants have started interacting with us and each other via the chat available in our platform.
“Now that pretty much all our courses are in the platform, we can start creating completely new ones. We want to create slightly shorter courses that can be entirely completed online and via self-study.”
What are your top tips and insights from your journey creating trainings?
Sara & Clara:
Here are some of our tips
- You gain from taking a step back at the beginning and checking the syllabus and course objectives instead of just "pushing" old PDFs into the learning platform.
- Some things that work well in physical form, for example large compendiums, should be divided into smaller parts digitally.
- Work with quizzes and surveys so that the participants can interact instead of just passively taking in knowledge.
- Use preparatory tasks, especially before participants interact either physically or online. It is challenging for a teacher to face a group where the participants are at different levels of knowledge and experience. With preparatory work, you ensure that everyone gets the same foundation.
- Work on assignments between learning opportunities. This was very complicated with excel and manual input before we had Learnifier. Today it works very smoothly.
- Map out all the resources in one clear place, in PDFs and manuals. In Learnifier, they are in the menu under "resources" where participants can easily access and download them.
- Write clear course descriptions. “What can the participant expect?” Sometimes employees are registered for the courses by their managers, and then it is important that the participant gets a clear picture of the different course stages. What is expected – and what expectations may the course participant have in turn?
- Follow up the course with exercises where the participants can reflect and write down their learnings – especially what they should do differently when they return to their workplace.
What makes a training great?
Sara & Clara:
The best receipt is the nice feedback and ratings we get from the participants.
Have you calculated what you earned from implementing a lot digitally?
For example, we save a lot of money by not printing material. Even costs such as travel, premises and food disappear when a large part or all of the course takes place online. We also very likely cover a larger percentage of members now, as we reach those who were not able to travel and complete courses before. We will calculate that a little more concretely.
What results are you most proud of?
The fact that we also managed to put our diploma courses in Learnifier and gave them a lift. This has made it easier for both teachers and participants. The diploma courses are physical course opportunities with several weeks in between, where the participants do both study and homework. They end with a diploma exam. With the help of Learnifier, we have created clarity and simplified both the preparation task, study task, homework and the on-site exercises. In addition, participants can now use the chat to interact both with each other and the teachers.
What’s next? What do you want to do and why?
Clara & Sara:
Now that pretty much all our courses are in the platform, we can start creating completely new ones. We want to create slightly shorter courses that can be entirely completed online and via self-study. In the future, we also want to create a knowledge library with different types of micro learnings that you can take part in when new knowledge in an area becomes available. Of course, we will also constantly refine and tweak our existing courses. There is a lot to do and it is very fun and exciting!
Interview by: Rebecca Cannerfelt
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