Helping even more volunteers to build the skills they need

We’re building a new online platform to help with your learning and training

06 July 2021

We’ve been working hard on building a new learning platform for all our volunteers. 

Since 2017 our learning and development team have been focussing on ways to help you get the training you need. We’ve been listening to your feedback and we know we can do better at making training – in particular our online learning and development offer – easy to access and understand. 

So we’re building a new online platform that will help you see what training you need to do, track the progress you’ve made and learn when and where it suits you. 

Volunteer learning platform implementation specialist and unit leader, Michelle Parry-Slater, tells us about the work on the project so far. And explains what you can expect when we launch. 

Michelle explains the work we've done

We’ve got hundreds of excellent volunteer trainers doing a great job with learning, but we know they simply cannot reach everyone – due to challenges of geography, mobility, time, availability of mentors, and such like.  

And we want everyone to be able to learn in a way that suits their volunteer life. It’s why we introduced e-learning on our website, and why in 2018, when the new programme was revealed, we introduced webinar sessions as well as face to face learning. Feedback at the time showed us that you really liked having the extra choice about your learning – with stories about how you were able to breastfeed comfortably whilst attending a learning webinar, or how avoiding driving two hours across county for a training event then two hours home again was very welcome. So we kept looking for ways to support our trainers to reach more people.  

Since then we’ve grown the number of webinars we offer and have trained more than 250 webinar trainers, all of whom have done a terrific job during the pandemic keeping learning alive in Girlguiding.  

Alongside new webinars, we’ve kept talking to volunteers and gathering your feedback about what more would be useful. We did a research project with a digital platform, Filtered and another later with a digital agency, Nomensa. These projects were to help us understand what would be beneficial in terms of digital learning for volunteers. The research helped us to really understand volunteer needs and led us to working on a digital learning platform.  

In 2020 we secured funding to invest in a learning platform and we started working with Learning Pool, a well known, experienced, reputable learning company who really understand Girlguiding and all our complexities. 

The learning platform will provide an easy access, any time, any place approach to learning at Girlguiding. Over time we’ll build up our library of learning choices which will enable leaders to be prepared to offer our girls and young women the fantastic experiences they love. We’ll also be able to bring new volunteers up to speed more quickly as they can have access to the learning platform straight away, which will help the growth of new units so more girls and young women can enjoy all the benefits of guiding.  

We’re working hard right now to make it easy for you to access digital learning such as A Safe Space in a way that blends with our webinars and in person events. Staff and volunteers work seamlessly together from multiple teams including GO, IT, Communications, and of course, Volunteer learning and development.  

The commitment, the creativity, the problem solving, the excitement, the head scratching, the co-creation – it has all been shared across a wide-ranging team. I’m in awe of how much is achieved each week when we come together for progress meetings. By working together, each with their own subject expertise and assigned tasks, a massive project is broken up into manageable pieces to ensure we can all deliver the best learning experience to volunteers.  

Our initial vision of improving our learning provision to reach all volunteers will continue to be something we strive for, as every volunteer deserves the best support they can get to feel confident, knowledgeable and ready for their volunteer life.  

What are the next steps?  

We have continued to hear from volunteers as we work – perhaps you’ve been on one of the several Zoom calls that I or my colleagues have held? Thank you for all your contributions – I always say more heads are better than one.  

We’re heading in the right direction for launch later this year. You’ll be able to use the new platform to access all our webinars and e-learnings. And eventually it'll be possible to add local training session, so you can easily book your place on sessions near you. 

As this is such a new direction for us, we’ll launch small and grow, a bit like we did with webinars.  And we’ll continue to listen to you, after all, this is platform to help people learn and that means us too – we want to learn what works for you and what could be better. It’s personally important to me that all Girlguiding volunteers have the opportunity to access learning as and when they need it, so you can only imagine how excited I am for the next steps.