C³ NEWSLETTER EDITION 14 - Multiple course formats gaining ground


The variety of course formats has increased quite considerably in the last years, mainly due to digitalization. The COVID 19 pandemic speeded up this phenomenon in the last 24 months. So, the classical face-2-face workshop and distance learning by mail or e-mail today, seem almost forgotten, since many more course types have evolved. Today they are often organized:

  • as virtual live sessions on a video conference tool like Zoom or MS TEAMS;
  • as asynchronous courses on a learning management systems like Moodle or edX;
  • as mixed settings in hybrid courses (face-2-face + live session); or
  • by blending any of the formats mentioned before.

In order to maintain better learning in our projects and in-house courses and with the conviction that skills of people need to keep pace with digitalization, GFA has developed a number of standard training courses for trainers and moderators in this virtual setting. Find two examples on page three of this newsletter. This newsletter further describes our courses in Mexico and two training schemes in the mining sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South America. On the last page, we present our new C³ team and an entertaining tool used to prepare animated videos.

E-learning is here to stay! Let’s make it better!

Christine Fröhlich, Head of C³ Unit for Better Learning


Mexico: Knowledge Networks for Energy Efficiency

Image: A view of the course on Moodle with videos by course designers Rubén Zagal and Margot Aguilar

In line with Mexico’s 2030 Development Agenda of transitioning to a more sustainable and efficient provision of energy, C³ is building the capacity of relevant stakeholders in the country to develop funding proposals for Energy Efficiency initiatives. In this project “Knowledge networks for EE & RE with municipalities and cities” implemented by GFA on behalf of GIZ, over one hundred Mexican nationals will be qualified to secure resources for their municipalities or organizations by designing proposals for tenders and national funding programs.

Alongside three main energy efficiency areas (public lighting, water pumping and efficiency in public buildings) and the implementation of energy management systems, the course focuses on the development of proposals for the creation of learning networks (Redes de Aprendizaje), collaborative spaces where different actors exchange experiences and share technical support to develop creative solutions for the energy transition problem. This course connects experts throughout the country and makes it possible to share best practices and to learn from peers.


The taylor-made course provides an overview of the main elements of a funding proposal for the implementation of energy efficiency, energy management system and learning networks projects. By completing the course, participants acquire the fundamental knowledge and practice to develop a full proposal. C³ has been involved from the very beginning in the course preparation. In collaboration with the subject experts, our consultants advised the GFA team in Mexico towards building the best learning alternative for the beneficiaries´ needs.

Following a meticulous needs analysis and a series of discussions, including a one-week intensive mission in Mexico, it was established that the most suitable format was an asynchronous e-learning course. The next steps were to work together with the subject experts to build a rich and effective learning journey on our learning management system of choice, Moodle.

ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING (16-18 learning hours over 4 weeks)

Image: A collaborative activity on Padlet made by participants

One of the most well-known e-learning formats, asynchronous learning, is facilitated by content, activities and assignments that take place when participants and tutors are not online at the same time. It makes learning more flexible and enables participants to have more ownership regarding course progression.

Our target group consists of public workers, academics, and initiators of learning networks in various regions of Mexico, a very diverse audience with different needs in terms of time, rhythm, didactical and technical support.

In order to make the course attractive from an asynchronous perspective, our better learning methodology was paired up with a modern and user-friendly layout, interactive activities in H5P, videos featuring the course designers and collaborative tasks.


In C³, we always think ahead, and that means making sure the course cascades to as many beneficiaries as possible. To achieve this goal, we are using a Train of Trainers scheme, in which a first cohort takes an e-Didactics course - in addition to the Proposal Writing course. This combination provides the future trainers with the ability to operate Moodle as tutors and to support the participants of the upcoming cohorts.

The availability of a larger tutor supply enables the opening of more cohorts that will count on trained tutors to guide them through the course, helping the course expansion and, of course, tackling it sustainably.

The e-Didactics course enhances virtual trainer competencies and takes place 100% live. Over the course of four synchronous sessions, participants reflect about best practices of e-tutoring and qualitative participant supported by C³’s digital learning experts. By the completion of the C³ e-Didactics training (12 hours), participants are not only capable of tutoring the Proposal Writing course, but also able to use a wide range of e-learning activities.

C³ Learning in the mining sector

Image: Videos are part of the learning material

Throughout the year, two projects in the mining sector developed and implemented training schemes using the C³ action and experienced based learning method.

In Bolivia, Columbia and Peru the “Better Gold Initiative” project piloted a virtual training course for miners. The course allowed for learning on smartphones and course material was also tested in face-to-face training settings. The three pilot course modules were related to using mercury and cyanide in a sustainable way in the production process. Participants were registered and worked on GFA’s Moodle learning platform. They could listen to audios, see films, do quizzes and had access to basic information in form of short documents to be read.

Image: Simple graphics underline main learning points

The Better Gold Initiative is an integrated supply chain project that supports artisanal miners and small-scale mining operations in improving their technical, environmental, and social practices so that they meet standards which enable them to participate in international markets. The project is the result of a private-public partnership between the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Swiss Better Gold Association, represented by leading gold industry actors.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo a classical face-2-face train-the-trainer package was developed and implemented, in the GIZ funded project “development of training modules and training of trainers for artisanal and small- scale mining (ASM) cooperatives”. The course focused on the following topics:

  • Organizational development and good governance of a Mining Cooperative
  • Due diligence, traceability, certification and transparency
  • Communication, human rights, gender equality and children’s rights
  • Hygiene, health and safety
  • Environmental protection at community level
  • Community relationship management
  • Financial literacy and administration, basic accounting and taxation

Training material was first developed and validated in a pilot course. As a next step, a group of 23 local trainers were trained didactically as well as with respect to the course content. The last course then took place for 11 representatives of ASM mining cooperatives, with local trainers responsible for its implementation. The two local experts of the GFA/Projekt-Consult team coached the latter as a final part of the training-of-trainers process.

e-learning: two New standard course formats

In 2021 the C³ Unit managed to standardize two virtual course types for our training schemes in projects and for in-house courses:


Many training schemes in our projects aim at involving larger numbers of participants. To allow scaling up, they are designed as train-the-trainer schemes. In the last two years, trainers were obliged to switch from conventional face-2-face training to e-learning. But – good learning in this context did not mean simply transferring presentations to an online video communication tool!


Learning Management System (LMS): We believe that one success factor is the involvement of a learning management system like Moodle. This allows a structured and qualified management of courses. Participants are guided and course documentation is hosted in an orderly manner.

  • Collaborative learning: People are social beings, they want to “feel” the others – especially when studying online. Engagement is possible in courses for example through a well managed forum on the platform, or by using and enhancing tools like whiteboards or polling. During group work and contributions on fora participants exchange with their peers.
  • Feedback, monitoring and evaluation: Learners want to be addressed by the trainer and receive feedback. Tasks and activities should be monitored and evaluated, so that the participant feels guided and “seen”.
  • Committed trainer attitude: E-learning courses run best with committed virtual trainers. High desertion rates frequently are the result of an anonymous learning process, which leads to total isolation of the learner, who feels deserted by the trainer.

The e-TRAINER course covers all these aspects in 12 learning hours. During four live sessions, participants are engaged through group work and individual tasks, live polls and whiteboards. Activities are all managed on GFA’s Moodle LMS: https://gfa-edu.de/

In the last two years this course format was held with great success in GFA run projects in Ukraine, Indonesia, Honduras and Malawi. It is an excellent format for bringing together participants across countries – like in the EU Project “Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA)” implemented by GFA. In the aftermath of the course, most local trainer teams were responsible to run a roll-out of a prior developed course, reaching hundreds of participants.


Image: Collaboration is enhanced with live polling tools like Mentimeter

In 2020 and 2021 GFA people all around the world have had to climb steep learning curves when moderating live meetings on online communication tools like TEAMS. Roles have increasingly shifted from a mere participant of a bilateral call to a facilitating or moderating role, sometimes with a large number of people attending these online meetings.

Responding to these challenges, the C³ Unit developed a series of webinars on “Moderating live sessions on MS TEAMS in a professional way” as part of the GFA Learns Digital initiative. Six sessions, each lasting one-hour, were open to all GFA staff members in Germany and in projects worldwide and attended by more over 150 participants.

Due to high demand expressed throughout the company and from project staff, a similar webinar series will be held at the beginning of 2022.

Later in the year, the GIZ project supporting the “Cooperation for the Enhancement of the SADC” (CESARE) contracted GFA/C³ to implement a similar “Virtual Facilitation Training” for their project staff and other stakeholders. The course aimed at deepening the participants’ understanding and skills about how to professionally manage virtual meetings, how to engage people (e.g. through energizers) and how to ensure that tangible results are elaborated, e.g. during breakout sessions. Specific tools for polling/voting (Mentimeter) and collaboration such as virtual walls like padlet were introduced to participants. Both tools leading to enhanced interaction and participation during live sessions. Following the C³ action-oriented methodology, participants were guided to apply the respective tool or technique in each session from the presenter’s or moderator’s perspective and then share their experience. GFA thereby puts great importance to the fact that all tools used are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU. The training was very well received by the participants and provoked interesting discussions e.g. about the role conflicts of advisors who are sometimes not only facilitating meetings content-wise but are often also responsible for accompanying the group through the moderation cycle.


Image: Vyond’s panel showing the editor’s view

Videos are great to explain complex ideas and instructional designers around the world are using them in innovative and creative ways to simplify the transmission of content.

But videos are costly and time-consuming, you say? Well, this notion seems to be in the past. With web-based, user-friendly apps like Vyond, which C³ has recently added to its toolbox of better learning, videos are now part of GFA’s e-learning universe. Vyond is GDPR compliant, offers ready to use libraries with diversity sensitive characters and backgrounds and allows voicing in different languages. It also exports videos in small files, making them particularly suited for our Moodle platform. Check the Website for details: vyond.com

The people

Image: C³ Unit, from left to right: Katja Schifferer, Judith Bierbaum, Christine Fröhlich, Claudia Mussi

The C³ unit had to weather some changes in 2021. Starting with a crew of three members, Captain Christine Fröhlich had to let go of two valuable team members, Christine Fenz and Tina Nassr, leaving the boat to explore new shores. To master the increasing demand for training support, three consultants joined the C³ Unit, making it a team of four enthusiastic sailors by the end of 2021.

KATJA SCHIFFERER is a Capacity Development Expert with a Master in Education Management. She re-joined the boat just recently in October 2021. Currently, Katja masters a virtual facilitation training for the team of the project “Cooperation for the Enhancement of SADC Regional Economic Integration (CESARE)” (see page 3). Katja brings to the team over 25 years of professional experience in capacity development/didactics with a regional focus on Africa and Asia. Languages: English, French, Spanish, German

JUDITH BIERBAUM supports the C³ crew since May 2021 in the field of Corporate Learning. Working now in the interface between C³ and HR, Judith is responsible for the didactical development, implementation and quality assurance of our in-house courses. In the last months, a strong focus has been supporting the Quality Management Team as e-facilitator and/or Moodle support in the onboarding courses “Introduction to Core Processes” and “Introduction to GFA’s security”. Languages: English, French, German

CLAUDIA MUSSI is on board since May 2021 as E-learning Expert responding to continuous trend in digital learning. Claudia has conducted the C³ e-trainer course in Indonesia and is currently involved in the project “Redes de conocimiento para EE y RE con municipios y ciudades”, where she supports the team in the course design and set-up of a training of trainer scheme to conduct virtual courses on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Mexican cities (see pages 1 & 2). Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, German


Christine Fröhlich