Results from Capacity Building of Consultants
GMS’s training approach focuses on experiential learning, which is critical for adult learning processes. This approach relies on the previous knowledge and experience of consultants. This approach also capitalizes on the capacity of adult learners to better retain information through hands-on, practical exercises and activities. GMS uses scenarios to structure linked exercises that take participants through the critical steps of an assignment or technical-support process. One scenario might situate a consultant in the grant-making process, when key documents required for a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) are developed (before the principal recipient and Global Fund sign the grant). In another scenario consultants might find themselves working on a Global Fund “eligibility and performance assessment” (or EPA) for country coordinating mechanisms. Building the capacity of consultants is part of GMS’s objective 2.
As of September 2016, GMS counts more than 850 participants in its training and certification program. In its last project year, which ended September 30, 2016, 69 GMS consultants were trained in face-to-face trainings, and across 7 virtual courses GMS counted 287 course completions. These participants stand at various points along the consultant development pathway.
In 2016, GMS launched its virtual Learning Hub. The Learning Hub is an online platform where GMS consultants can access learning opportunities on topics related to country cordinating mechanisms and principal recipients (PRs). Thus the hub provides a way for GMS consultants to build their knowledge and skills and continue their training as providers of technical support for grantees of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund). By September 30, 2016, the total enrollment across GMS’s 7 virtual courses was 432 participants.
Face-to-face training has included intensive orientations for consultants (boot camps), eligibility and performance assessment (EPA) training, dashboard training, and team-leader enhancement. GMS has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other technical-support providers (International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit or GIZ, France Expertise Internationale or FEI, and Leadership, Management, & Governance (LMG) Project of the United States Agency for International Development) to train 50 consultants how to set up and use the PR Management Dashboard and CCM Summary.
GMS recognizes the hard work and dedication of its consultants. Between September 30, 2015, and October 2016 , 74 consultants were either certified for the first time or recertified. By October 2016, a cumulative number of 126 consultants had been certified as team members, team leaders, and/or coordinating team leaders. These Global Fund experts demonstrate the technical, management, and consulting capacity to meet the rigorous eligibility and competency criteria defined by GMS standards of technical consulting with Global Fund grantees.
Success stories and news
GMS’s week-long consultant orientation training prepares consultants to act as team members on GMS assignments in one of its 4 technical areas (PR management; monitoring and evaluation; health products management; and governance). The boot camp originally focused on information sessions with limited exercises. Starting with its second boot camp, GMS adopted a blended and experiential learning approach. This change was in response to the large volume of materials covered and participants’ expressed desires to practice the skills required for the GMS field approach.
In the new format, the bulk of the information transfer occurs virtually through an asynchronous online course participants take before boot camp. This course is delivered on the International HIV/AIDS Alliance learning platform. The in-person part of the training was reconfigured as a skills-based, scenario-focused event, reflecting the standard phases of a GMS assignment (diagnosis, technical interventions, capacity building, validation and handover to client). An assignment scenario was developed, including simulations (interviews, work sessions, role plays, and presentations) as well as technical briefings and work sessions focused on specific interventions or deliverables. Participants worked in crosscutting teams with technical managers on GMS’s staff and with experienced team leaders to respond to the scenario. A total of 197 consultants were trained in GMS experiential boot camps.
GMS’s Learning Hub is a new virtual training platform, based on the open-source learning management system Moodle, which offers consultants access to self-paced virtual training modules within their area(s) of expertise. Moodle has many qualities that help make it an effective way for consultants to engage in continuous learning:
• Consultants can complete interactive courses to gain knowledge and build skills related to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, contribute to discussion forums, and access archived content on-demand.
• The complete catalog of courses is available 24/7 to consultants at their convenience, with several courses available in English and French.
• Discussion forums are ongoing and provide an opportunity for course participants to share experiences and ideas with their peers and with GMS technical staff.
• GMS tracks consultants’ progress and satisfaction with the virtual courses using platform-based reporting tools and evaluation surveys.
• Completion of virtual courses is noted on consultants’ profiles and is considered when evaluating their eligibility for certification.
The courses have been well received. For the PR Management Dashboard Basics course, participants rated the course content as informative and clear (4.76 out of 5), noted that content flowed logically and highlighted the key information (4.61 out of 5), and found the exercises helpful and engaging (4.32 out of 5). One evaluator observed, “I liked the fact that [the exercises] gave me an immediate opportunity to practice using and interpreting the dashboard – from theory to practice.”