When time is scarce to receive training, what can we do?
I have developed an online Moodle educational platform in Panama to help hyper-busy journalists to receive training in their free time.
Everything is apparently in place: a carefully developed training program, willingness among reporters and editors to be trained, media companies support. But a crucial factor might be missing: time.
Newsrooms in Panama, as it happens everywhere, are becoming smaller (see the dramatic decline of number of workers employed in the U.S. newspaper publishing industry.) Reporters and editors are covering the daily beat, blogging, doing investigative stories, and sometimes designing their own pages and editing their own stories. Despite this work overload, some Panamanian journalists are able to produce compelling stories, but their time is scarce and must be well managed.
These conditions are not fully supporting the availability of time to be trained. So, when I invite journalists to the workshops, everybody enthusiastically says yes!, but I know that not all of them will be able to attend the sessions.
In this context, it is difficult to get full attendance to the in-person sessions. Sometimes, the workshop competes against the urgency to be on the field, the stressing waiting for a phone call, or simply the proximity of multiple deadlines. When the newsroom has more personnel, reporters and editors can organized themselves to attend the workshops. But not always this is possible. So, what can be done?
In my experience, one of the best solutions to avoid this overlapping of workshops and busy reporting schedules is to combine in-person and online training sessions. With this possibility, reporters and editors can decide whether they attend the in-person workshop, participate in the online session, or both.
I began to build an online workshop based on Moodle, an open source educational platform. It is hosted by the Forum of Journalists of Panama, and can be visited and used by the trainees on a regular basis.