Women’s Bank (Naisten Pankki) is a Finnish organisation that collects donations to improve the future of women in developing countries. A lion’s share of the donations is given as small loans and other help in entrepreneurial activities. This organisation, along several other development aid organisations, has suffered severe cuts in state subsidies this autumn, but luckily most projects can continue despite the cuts.
Having worked as Women’s Bank volunteer for a while now, it was time for me to learn more about the organisation. I attended two virtual training sessions organised by Jaana Hirsikangas, the volunteer coordinator of Women’s Bank. The sessions were organised using Adobe Connect. Jaana was extremely enthusiastic and kept the team – or so it seemed by looking at the active chat window – engaged for both one-and-a half sessions. Having not much earlier experience on live virtual training sessions, I quickly noticed that an energetic instructor is indeed a lifeline to keep the virtual training going, since especially as I used my work laptop to participate the trainings, the temptation to browse through work emails was almost too large to resist.
As said, the instructor really kept the sessions going, and the supporting PowerPoint material was well-made in that it consisted mostly of images and charts instead of plain text.
Technically the training was organised so that all participants were able to use the chat window to ask questions, or discuss a topic.
Most of the sessions was spent so that the instructor spoke about the planned topics. Although at the beginning I mentioned that I was engaged throughout the sessions, maintaining my attention on the Adobe Connect window was challenging at times as my email program kept blinking with new emails and I had the daily news open in another browser window. To make the temptation to wander off to other activities on screen, it would be good to include more questions in the training – for instance an introductory question related to people’s own experiences of a certain topic, and again a question or two in the middle and end of a topic.