As part of an effort to increase training available to USAID Global Health staff in the field, I designed a facilitated asynchronous course on administrative writing. The practical online workshop was designed to strengthen professionals’ writing effectiveness—to learn what makes writing strong and professional, including how to write in a style appropriate for common USAID communications. Participants utilize strategies and approaches that will increase readability and professionalism of documents expected at their workplace.
This is a fully online and asynchronous course that takes place over the course of four weeks. Participants study at their own pace, accessing instructional materials and completing assignments at times that are convenient for them. However, there is a set schedule of due dates for all four assignments and participants generally spend a total of 5-7 hours completing coursework over the month.
I converted this professional writing course from a four-hour in-person training session to a facilitated asynchronous month-long online course. Hosting and materials development was limited to what had been approved for use by the agency, requiring creative approaches to enable interactivity. I developed the materials the materials to be accessible on low bandwidth and to be fully self-directed. The instructional materials include slide docs, animated videos, and curated resources all contained in one page per session of the course.
The course is organized into four sessions, each covering a different topic and containing an assignment. The course and each individual session are all launched via email (either MailChimp or standard email, depending on the session) and conducted via the course website on Google Sites. The animated videos were created using Vyond (formerly known as GoAnimate). In addition to the instructional sessions, the course also includes pages that provide an orientation to online courses for those who are unfamiliar with them and additional resources outside the scope of the course.
This is one of the best-attended courses put on by the project. It is most popular with non-US American staff overseas. Participants regularly report at least 30% increase in learning and skills. Many participants requested additional learning in the end of course evaluations, prompting the project to begin the design of a sequel course.
Past Participant Quotations
- “I have already started applying what I have learnt. I will use the skills when writing my reports, memos, emails and other documents”
- “It is a very flexible course adapted to our needs. It is very easy to navigate.”
- “English is not my first language. But this course really helped me how to be brief and to the point while communicating a written message.”
Click the images below to view samples from the course. Each sample will open in a new tab. This demo contains the homepage overview of the course, one slide doc, and one video. I built all three samples in consultation with the course SME. The full course can be available upon request.