A New Year, a new cohort of Fun Learning Educator (FLE) trainees, and the new online Fun Academy Campus! A great start! More than 40 participants were online from Germany, Finland, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Vietnam, Hongkong, and Brazil, getting started with the 6-month online training course that has been revised to fit into the pedagogically custom-built Fun Academy Campus.
With over 10 years in the field of international professional development of teachers, we have gained significant experience in onsite, online, and hybrid training. This led us to make learned adaptations to our online approach. Our pedagogical team studied various models and ended up with something simple and effective—a model that has been working with the committed teachers we have had the privilege of working with these past years.
To illustrate the model, I am going to use our Vietnamese friends as a textbook example of how this works. We all understand the challenges of remote learning especially in an international setting—connectivity issues, scheduling problems, commitment concerns, feelings of isolation, motivation struggles, and difficulties with priorities. Online platforms often feel intimidating or frustrating (pedagogically weak), and as students, we may have trouble connecting the learnings to our context, not seeing the practical value and feeling that our time has been wasted.
So, back to our partners in Vietnam. At TTD Fun Academy Kindergartens they have three Fun Learning Trainers on staff who are coordinating this course facilitation on location in Hanoi. Even though the process of signing up on the Campus is super easy, these trainers are present to support their staff, helping them feel at ease with the platform, and talking their groups through the what, why, and how's of the training. When management supports continuous professional development of the employees, the whole idea of lifelong learning is possible.
The Fun Academy Campus structure is a three-stage model, where we orient ourselves to the topic or theme in three steps. First, we give the participants the possibility to briefly identify the general idea, but in a way that is very personal, not at all pushing something digested. The beginning of each module is designed to subtly guide the participant to think of something relevant to them, something that resonates with their work or professional development path. The next stage is then a bit more of an outline of what the Fun Learning approach is saying about the topic at hand, a framework that helps recognize and name the theme so that we are on the same page when we start to talk about it or dive deeper into the idea. The third stage is a more interactive stage where the topic is discussed in a way that ties together the thoughts, knowledge, and ideas of each participant individually in their portfolio work but also allows for peer learning as we have been subtly nudged to gather around the same topic with similar vocabulary laid forward in the first two stages of the process (and these three steps are repeated in every module of the course).
The Campus model works for a student studying independently—allowing them to connect the themes freely to their work and development. In the ideal textbook example of Vietnam, the learning is broadened to the whole team with the support of the local trainers coaching and facilitating the discussions in between the independent working sessions. This ties the themes to the curriculum, the joint planning, and even to the individual learning plans of the children in a very concrete way. The team discussions help each teacher focus on their strengths and make them visible to the team, ensuring that the teams trust that they are "speaking the same language" and that their planning is based on common understanding, values, and framework.
Our Campus provides participants with a platform that culminates in each teacher creating their workbook or manual, authored by them, and ready-to-use by the end of the course. This serves as a practical extension of the diploma they have earned during the process. We are confident that as our committed students convene with their own teams to discuss the practicalities of implementing Fun Learning, we will witness significant strides in professional development and an elevated quality of services. This onsite activity is complemented by what we offer online, creating a balanced mix of insights gathered from the international group-sharing and the real, practical experiences in local daycare and kindergarten settings.
For those without the luxury of local coaches facilitating group discussions, we warmly recommend that our participants find a colleague with whom to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical implementations in their own learning environments.
In this first module, we discussed the importance of play. For our blog readers, we recommend checking out a blog post on that topic to gain insight into how play is viewed in Fun Learning: Unlocking the Power of Play: Enhancing Children's Learning and Well-being
We will keep you all posted with more insights into this FLE course as we progress with this amazing group of altogether over 50 early childhood educators from 4 continents, working in 7 different countries, with time zones even 11 hours apart—all together online, all working also independently, all focusing on their development while serving the children in their care. Role models of lifelong learning!
We look forward to learning ourselves during the process. We always do learn with and from our partners. Welcome to join us on one of the upcoming Fun Learning Educator courses!
P.S. And sad to admit, we did have connectivity issues also during our launch module... so still something to fix going forward 😅...
Adding one more thing: Have a look at what our partner The Campus Company has to offer—this course of ours is fantastic and we certainly recommend you learn more about Fun Learning with us, but you can also consider delivering your own courses via Campus and enjoying the ease of setting up an effective remote learning course: Look up The Campus Company