Gary Thomas describes the birth and growth of the intercultural trainer programme IBT/M.
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How our intercultural trainer programme developed with Blended Learning
Just over 10 years ago, two friends and colleagues of mine, Brigitte Speicher, Susanne Dranaz and I set about designing something new. A programme to equip people to work as intercultural business trainers and facilitators. Every baby needs a name, we called our brainchild the intercultural Business Trainer/Moderator programme or (IBT/M) for short.
Like any proud parents, we loved the programme from birth onwards and thankfully, so did our participants. Again, like proud parents, we had high hopes and ambitions for it. We have fed and clothed our brainchild and watched it grow. We wanted it to be smart and helpful, so we placed the primary focus on development of real trainer competence
So how do you make this type of brainchild grow?
Newborn IBT/M was a 12-day programme. The newborn programme was composed of five face-to-face modules. The programme grew when we added pre-reads in advance of each module to enable more time for hands-on practice and skills development in the face-to-face modules. In the meantime, as IBT/M enters puberty, we have 14 days in six modules.
Outside the face-to-face modules, we gave our brainchild a healthy diet of peer coaching and group support so that the programme went from strength to strength.
Always a happy child, the next real growth spurt was when the brainchild was still in nappies it got its first teeth. We added webinars in advance of each module to allow even more time for practical skills in the face-to-face modules. All children have teething problems that keep the parents awake at night. In those days, the technology for webinars was not all that good, those terrible wins, audio and video had their challenges. We have changed systems twice since then. Like a full set of teeth in a child’s mouth, sound and vision in the webinars have got better and better as technology has improved.
And so little IBT/M got bigger. Like any child, IBT/M has become more and more resourceful, able and has learned to do so many new things. Next came a Learning Management System and virtual classrooms, where we could allow much more online learning to happen as well as exchange between the participants. We call the LMS our Virtual Campus, and like mums and dads, we find ourselves marvelling at how clever it is and how it is more and more enjoyable to have in our lives
So what happened next? Yep, little IBT/M got muscles. Our child grew a library of interactive online material and now includes interactive exercises to complete before and after each module.
So, as IBT/M enters puberty, it has gone from being a sparkle in the parents’ eye to having its own personality. Of course, it’s demanding and doesn’t always do what it’s told, but we love it all the same.