Period: October 2019-April 2020
To teach program staff and government officers the basics of Fluoride and Fluorosis along with introducing Integrated Fluorosis Mitigation that helps practitioners, government officials, NGO leaders get an understanding of action around fluorosis mitigation in an actionable way. The key being to develop this as a remote course, that has frequent interactions spread across a longer period of time.
INREM Foundation (based in Anand) works on various issues with a focus on water quality and health. The institution develops innovative interdisciplinary solutions and brings them into the wider domain of practice by participating with communities and government. They work in a networked format across over 5 states on the ground in the area of integrated fluorosis mitigation, besides supporting other organisations and networks working on arsenic, coastal salinity, besides being involved in policy discussions at the state and central levels.
The audience was primarily program staff from NGOs who were already active in the field and were working in communities confronted with the issue of fluoride in their drinking water, and the staff needed to build foundational knowledge to help integrate into their ongoing programs.
Photo Credits: INREM Foundation
INREM already had a wealth of knowledge, experience and content from previous training efforts over the decade prior. We worked with them to break the whole process down into a 10 week program which would take a cohort through a learning journey supported by multiple touchpoints to keep them engaged, and learning.
We worked with INREM to create a simple, accessible curriculum, and used their existing content to create bite-sized content such that a learner would spend about 20 - 30 minutes per week in a self-paced manner. For this project, we set up a simple LMS using WordPress where the content was hosted.The key with the content was that we kept it simple in terms of the language used, but kept the text on slides in English. We supported each slide with a voiceover in Hindi produced by our team. The dual lingual approach was done both to help learners, and keeping in mind scalability of the content where voiceovers could easily be added in the future for other languages as the program scaled.
Weekly Virtual Workshops
We did weekly webinars, which were set up on the same day and same time each week. People set that time aside from work and attended enthusiastically.
For the webinars, we got experienced members from INREM’s program staff to help people get perspective from actual experts on the field. They also got the chance to hear and take feedback from people working on the scale of advisory and affecting policy making with the government of India. These people, who would otherwise not get time to go and train people, could manage to take a few hours out to talk to the participants, highly enriching their experience.
The course was designed such that it included field activities after major concepts were covered on the LMS, so people could experience some of the theories in person. People tested water samples from their selected habitations, did need assessment surveys and checked people for signs of Fluorosis. This then led into planning and other aspects of IFM, where were enriched by their experience in the field.
We made provisions for participants to be able to share their experience from the field with us. They came back with new observations and questions that were then addressed by field staff or district coordinators from INREM in the weekly webinars.
The impact was on multiple levels
1/ For INREM this was the first of many experiments and a move towards doing more and more training virtually. You can read about ongoing trainings and our collaboration here.
2/ The Remote IFM course has become the foundation to train program staff from other NGOs to then get trained and certified as Virtual Trainers for Fluorosis Mitigation such that they can train frontline workers and doctors directly and scale up efforts.
3/ The course is being repeated by the INREM team with a number of NGOs in 2021.