Mind the Gap

Obstacles in knowledge or engagement can present difficulties in reaching audiences, particularly when the training being provided is specialised. As training and learning take on new mediums, there is potential to decrease the gap but only with the right strategies, as Paola Rattu and Jamie Brook from Phonak have discovered.


By Jason Kenny


The effectiveness of training relies strongly on how both instructor and audience approach the topic. Despite the hopes of all trainers and educators, there is often a gap between learners in resources, interest or in background knowledge of the topic. To some extent, e-Learning allows different approaches to cover the ground in resources and temporarily improving interest or engagement but still doesn’t cover all the bases.


At Phonak, training covers specialist areas of healthcare in both products and counselling. During MidSummit, Paola Rattu and Jamie Brook will discuss these issues and the strategies they have developed to overcome the gaps between educator and student.


What kind of training do you undertake at Phonak? What problems do this training and the intended audience present?


We give several training courses, both on products and on global audiological topics such as hearing aid fitting and counselling. The case study that we will present at the MidSummit is a training course on Family Centered Care (FCC). This healthcare approach is still not well-known in the field of audiology even though its benefits have been widely recognised for both the patients and their relatives. So, we would like to promote it in order to improve the quality of the service offered by the hearing care professionals and to ameliorate the patient’s experience and its outcomes.


The main obstacles are threefold;

  • The topic itself: it is not at the centre of the Hearing Care Professionals training and it is a social skill thus difficult to transmit via e-Learning.
  • The interest of our public: the training is not compulsory and we need to demonstrate the pertinence of the topic and to encourage Hearing Care Professionals to participate. In addition, Hearing Care Professionals do not have much time during their working day to spend on training, so they need something short and efficient.
  • Our resources: we have a small team and our resources (time and money) for building this course are limited.


How do these gaps in familiarity affect the training?


Gaps in familiarity can affect the training in multiple ways. First of all, it affects Hearing Care Professionals motivation to even join the training, as they might see no benefit in joining the training. It might also affect the understanding of the topic, as not all our participants have the same level of knowledge and educational background.


What devices or strategies have you devised to overcome this?


To overcome the issues coming from lack of familiarity: we start the training with a precise and practical description of what Family Centered Care is and how it might be helpful for the Hearing Care Professional to know more about it and to be able to adopt this approach. We also give insights on how this would benefit patients.

Because the topic needs practice and implementation in the real professional environment it is difficult to train only through e-Learning. Therefore we develop small exercises to be gradually done throughout the course. So, the learners increasingly get familiar with the topic and little by little apply it to their daily practice.

To overcome the lack of time: we provide the training on micro videos through a drop-by-drop learning experience. So, a high mountain can be climbed one step at a time with reasonable effort.


Overcoming the lack of resources can be done in different stages. For preparing the training, we are helped by a network of experts that research and support Family Centered Care and that are willing to promote this approach. For the evaluation of the practical exercises, we encourage the Hearing Care Professional to look for the support of their own professional and personal network. We provide the tools so that this network can make the right observations and provide the right feedback to the Hearing Care Professional. We also encourage the Hearing Care Professional to practice self-reflection and provide them with the tools that allow for this self-managed learning.


What role has new tech played in this?


We use our LMS to make the content available to our learners. We use the quiz function to make pre- and post-training assessments. Using h5p or similar technology we make our micro movies interactive and we insert small exercises there. This drop-by-drop learning experience would not have been possible without the technology. We encourage the use of mobile technology to leverage informal learning through personal and professional networks.

Using the forum we create a community of practice that can exchange good practices and communicate with no need for huge resources from our side. Our network of experts can easily join the community to monitor the discussions and to intervene with comments if they wish.


What will attendees get from your session?


During our session we will start by presenting the challenges we had to face as well as the solutions we found. Then, we will have several word cafés in which the participants will have the opportunity to discuss one of the challenges more in depth. They will be able to provide constructive criticism as well as to elaborate alternative solutions based on the similar challenges they have faced or they will face in their professional activity. So, during the second part of our session our case study will be a pretext for a broader discussion on how to build the learning scenario when the project has limited resources, the topic is not popular and learners do not have much time.


What are you looking forward to at MidSummit?


We are looking forward to meeting colleagues who face similar challenges as we do, both in the health care industries and in other sectors. We would love to share insights on new promising technologies and pedagogic approaches. We are eager to get inspired from other projects being presented at the conference and we hope we will be inspiring for the other participants.

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