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Kevin Burns Design Narrative: Creating an online space for trainee radio producers

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Kevin Burns
7 April 2015


I was the co-ordinator of training for radio producers in RTÉ in 2008. A group of twenty producers being trained at different times and in different groups in one, two and three week modules, total training of 6 weeks spread over a three month period.


The task was to communicate learning assignments and notes with the trainees over that three month period, to maintain their focus on training while they were back working in their previous jobs and to build support and team spirit among the group.


i created the forum which was only accessible by password, gave each trainee a password and had a guest password for speakers and other trainers. The main obstacle was making sure that the trainee producers used the online space, so I had a number of exercises early on in their training for them to familiarise themselves with it. Then I made sure that regular and important information was exclusively posted on the online space. I also made sure that they were each asked to answer a few questions or give a short description of themselves by most of the guest speakers/trainers, so it became a very active space for their learning. The speakers were initially reluctant to use the space as well but after they saw activity they could see the benefits of engaging with the trainees before they met them. An unexpected outcome was that they often looked at what the other speakers/trainers were asking and used that in their training. Also I hadn't anticipated that the trainees would similarly be interested in what the other trainees in other modules were doing as well so it broadened the learning experience.



The trainees stayed focused for the three months, engaged with the speakers/trainers and other trainees through the online space. The trainers learnt more about the trainees they were teaching and the radio programmes were posted on the online space and so had a wider audience for feedback. The community was far bigger than i expected and the trainees used the forums more when they were back at work and not in training. I had anticipated that they would used it most when they were in full time training but they wanted the online contact most and contributed most the times when they weren't traning but in full time work. The opposite of what i expected. The evidence of that was in the postings but here I become an unreliable witness because the site was deleted after three months.


As this was 2008 I learnt a lot of insights into how people engage with forums, the dynamics of support that grow and how trainers are often mining the forums to improve the way they teach. So now when I'm in H800 forums I will say honestly what I think of the course because I know it's being viewed by the tutor/s who are looking for my feedback, I will also try to support others or look for support. It also gave me a good insight into how when people are teaching a group a lot of ground work can be done before the teaching begins.   

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Brendan Clarke
11:39am 9 April 2015

Hi Kevin- ground breaking stuff nearly 10 years ago- great stuff- did you ever use the idea again after this?  what forum did you use and how much did the structure and ease of access help?  Why do you think they enjoyed the online contact rather than the formality more?  A final question how much prep did you have to do for your trianers and speakers to get them to use the resource?  Brilliant and thanks for sharing-B

Kevin Burns
10:51am 12 April 2015

I didn't use the idea again. And there's somebody else training them now and they've gone back to the old ways. The forum was a specially built one from one of our tech/music guys, repurposed not sure it exists any more. Trainers and speakers were fine as long as it was a simple link you sent them. Sometimes they'd get back in touch to say they couldn't log in, but generally they were very appreciative of it. It showed the vacuum they're usually in so this tool improved things for them. 

Louise Worsley
11:17am 17 April 2015

We have a team of 20-25  trainers all delivering similar project management training courses.  There are always new trainers joining the group - I have been wondering whether a forum like this to share experiences might work - I would love to hear more about your insights.  Did you moderate the group or was it all up to them?

Kevin Burns
2:43pm 14 May 2015

Yes I moderated. The comments were usually related to tasks. So I'd solicit their experiences and designate somebody to write up experiences. Often they were so busy with the course that apart from the odd letting off of steam they just used the forum where it would help them or if they felt it was required.

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