When Covid-19 became a global pandemic, Fojo training programmes, events, and face-to-face interactions required a rapid rethink.
Travel bans, and restrictions in the numbers that could meet in person, meant that many planned activities had to be reassessed and alternative ways of working found.
Fojo programme managers turned to online meeting tools such as Zoom, with many finding such virtual gatherings to be a cost-efficient and flexible method for disseminating and sharing knowledge while, at the same time, breaking down barriers.
However some online meetings proved difficult with the background noise of domestic life making communication almost impossible. Added to that were the regular internet connectivity problems, common across many regions especially in rural areas.
As the pandemic spread new innovative ways of working had to be found, and quickly. Courses had to be adapted at speed so that they would work virtually. Training material had to be reworked so that it was available in formats that could be shared. Networking, training, and mentoring had to be redefined for the new online environment.
One Fojo project coordinator said the pandemic has been a “technological equaliser” where people who had previously been unaccustomed to using technical tools in the workplace had no choice but to adapt, in some cases becoming more efficient in the process.
Another said the whole experience of working through the pandemic had raised the “digital literacy” of the journalists taking part in the online training as well as helping project staff develop and improve their digital skills.
We spoke to Fojo programme managers in four regions – East and Central Europe, Rwanda, Southeast Asia, and Bangladesh, to try find out how they coped during the pandemic, and assess what was learnt from the experience.
Fojo takeaways from the pandemic
- Rapid shift to virtual digital working resulted in minimum disruption
- Digital literacy among programme organisers, trainers, and participants vastly increased
- Online learning offered greater reach with more able to connect and benefit from Fojo’s work
- Successful training methods perfected by Fojo and partners throughout the pandemic to be continued when post-Covid activities resume
- Online training requires less logistical work, which means events can be set up faster and can involved participants from multiple regions
- Staff turned the negative of not being able to travel and meet face-to-face into the positive of forming stronger networks and relationships which bode well for future working
- Programme staff learnt to prioritise effort and assess what should take priority day-to-day with efficiency and effectiveness implications for the future.