By Jorge Alberto Colorado Comparini 

With backing from Forus, the Coordination of NGOs and Cooperatives of Guatemala (CONGCOOP) has launched a Virtual Training Centre for its members to develop their skills, as well as a pilot diploma to validate this platform. 

The Virtual Training Centre was developed on a Moodle platform, chosen because it is user-friendly and has many technical options which support its use. Similarly, it was decided that virtual public servers would be used, as they are safer and more economic for storing information. The first stage of the project was highly technical, thus providing an understanding of how to develop this type of platform. 

A diploma in NGO Leadership was subsequently developed. The topic was uploaded on the platform, several members were invited to participate, and the effective operation of the platform was validated. The two fundamental objectives of this pilot diploma are; to provide expertise to the participants, and to understand how to use the recently-launched platform. 

We have learnt that in order to have an efficient digital training platform, you must have a solid technical foundation, dedicate time to setting up and launching the platform, think about how it will be used, and create spaces that meet the requirements. 

Since the platform's launch, we have also learnt that it is very important to validate it, which is why we decided to develop a pilot diploma.  The launched platform had some technical difficulties, which were resolved through its implementation. The trial period is key for the platform’s effective operation.  

We identified the need to keep the platform actively updated. Participants are highly likely to forget about digital channels, since they have many other options. We must therefore keep them at the forefront of their minds. 

Ongoing creativity is a must for the person running the platform, or at least the person coordinating any type of virtual diploma. It is essential to have an appropriate methodology for virtual education and to give sufficient time to personalised advice for each participant, in order to keep them interested in and assessed on what they are learning.  

Producing suitable videos, selecting appropriate material, outlining the methodology to be used, and digital teachers consulting with the institution’s policies, is time-consuming work. It requires someone to constantly sustain the platform in this regard and also to have the required virtual expertise. 

Likewise, the working dynamics of young people are different for classroom learning than they are for virtual learning. Young people are challenging, and so we must consider a particular methodology.  

Given the current COVID-19 situation, this type of platform will be a great help in achieving our institution’s learning objective.