FAQ & Guidelines
This section contains a set of frequently asked questions and general guidelines to help those professionals who are interested inimplementing successfully the IPA+ training in an autonomous and independent way.
The information contained herein is based on the experience acquired by the entities in charge of trailled the courses in the framework of the IPA+ project.
These guidelines have an evidence-based approach with a clearly practical purpose.
How long does it take to complete the courses?
Both courses have been designed to be implemented in three months with a dedication/commitment of 8 hours per week by the trainees. Nevertheless, the duration may be increased or condensed according to needs of trainers or trainees, if necessary.
What is needed to implement the courses?
In order to implement the IPA+ courses it is necessary to take into consideration different types of resources:
- Human resources: The number of staff members involved in the training to steer and guide trainees through possible questions and activities within modules depends, of course, on the number of students participating in each course. Taken the example of the IPA+ pilot sessions, two trainers were involved in Burgos (one for each level); two trainers and one administrative in Lisbon; and one coordinator in charge of accepting and handling applications and technical side of the project (MOODLE platform) and three mentors representing one collaborative sector (education, health, social care) in Belgrade.
- Technical resources: At least two computers with internet connection are needed in order to enable trainers to access to the MOODLE platform. There, training contents and materials are hosted and monitored. The availability of a room with a projector is also necessary to hold the face-to-face sessions.
- Time invested: Most of the efforts are invested in the preparation of the courses. Before their launch, trainers invested around 20 hours into organisingthe course, including tasks related to the recruitment of learners and uploading of the materials on the MOODLE platform. Once the training is running, time depends on the specific contents and activities within each module. Approximately, trainers invested around 3-4 hours per week in each level.
Who is the course designed for?
The IPA+ courses are addressed to professionals interested in working in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) field reaching a wide continuum of professional profiles. On the one hand, the Level I “Comprehensive Course” offers a complete approach to autism and it is addressed to professionals without previous experience and/or training in the field. On the other hand, the Level II “Expert Course” is addressed to professionals with previous practical experience in ASD who want to wide and update their knowledge.
What should be the profile of the trainers?
It is recommended that the trainees of the IPA+ courses have the following skills:
- Previous experience on delivering training in ASD;
- Wide previous experience working with people on the autism spectrum;
- Previous experience as trainer, with skills related to communication, conflict resolution, student management, correction of activities, etc;
- Basic computer skills;
- Knowledge of the following eLearning platforms: MOOC, MOODLE, etc.
How much time do trainees invest?
Each level was designed to last for a specific number of hours: between 47-72 hours for Level I and 51-96 hours for Level II.
A recommended number of hours is also suggested to dedicate to each module at the beginning of the course (approximately between 6 and 8 hours per week).
After having trialled the course, trainees provided feedback that the time distribution within modules. Overall, the distribution of time was appropriate in relation to the amount of content and activities that were required of them.
How communication between trainers and trainees can be promoted?
The means and tools used to encourage communication between the different actors involved in the training are the following:
- Trainer to Trainee: Communication takes place via a MOODLE forum (in case a trainee has a question to be solved and benefit from other trainees too), direct message on the platform (when a private message on a specific matter is required) or direct e-mail communication which refers to a specific topic or activity within the Trainees send their completed activities to their assigned mentor, whore views them and provides feedback. Also, communication was encouraged thanks to the face-to-face sessions or Skype conferences, when needed.
- Trainer to Trainer: Regular coordination takes place via e-mail and team meetings as well as by phone or Skype. Records on trainees and training course completion and statistics are shared via e-mail. Team meetings are held to share ideas about possible areas for improvement or to agree on content and topics for the face-to-face.
- Trainee to Trainee: Communication between peers takes place through MOODLE and face-to-face sessions promoting group activities. However, this is an area that requires improvement. So far, trainees had opportunity to communicate via the platform (both through direct message or messages on the forum). However, for some reason, they lacked initiative. We recommend to encourage trainees to introduce themselves on the platform by uploading a short CV’s. This can be useful to know who should they contact about specific situations. It could be beneficial too to pairing up trainees in order that a trainee without experience can consult with a trainee with some previous experience.
Which are the main difficulties encountered during the implementation of the courses? How these difficulties can be tackled?
Problem: Lack of technology skills by both trainees and trainers. Even though MOODLE is easy to use, there were some students and teachers that had some difficulties to use it correctly.
Solution: To offer previous training to trainers and trainees on the use of the platform via online tutorials, an expert adviser or even allowing students to send the activities through email.
Problem: Tight deadlines to finish the activities of the modules.
Solution: To extend deadlines in order to facilitate the students meet them, to make an individualized follow-up adapted to the needs of each student (this is only possible if there are not many students or just in particular cases) or to make fully available the modules completely on MOODL Eat the beginning to enable trainees to organise their work according to their needs, although it is recommendable to give them approximate deadlines as a reference.
Problem: Some students did not finish the course.
Solution: To reduce the dropout rate by asking for a commitment or monitoring their activity more closely.
Problem: According to the feedback given by trainees, the course required a lot of work and it was very demanding in terms of time and effort.
Solution: To lower the level of demands: e.g. shorter activities.
Problem: Lack of time to provide feedback to trainees after the submission of their activities.
Solution: To lower the level of demands or to extend deadlines.
Problem: Insufficient understanding of activities regarding what exactly is required and in what form.
Solution: To define more precisely how a particular activity should look. To determine, approximately, the scope and form of the material to be prepared by trainees.
Problem: (Un)adjustment of individual content to a local context.
Solution: To adapt the contents of the individual activities to the local context (except translation, in some cases, text adaptation is required).
Problem: Difficulties in using materials in foreign languages. Mandatory materials were translated but complimentary materials were offered in foreign languages.
Solution: To produce additional material selected in the language(s) of the training participants.
Problem: Need for additional clarification of individual content.
Solution: To provide additional explanations by recording a lecture or by expanding slides, as some content could be difficult to understand out of context.
Problem: Lack of definition of criteria to correct and evaluate the oretical-practical activities.
Solution: To define evaluation criteria for each activity and to include them on learning guides.