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A Step-By-Step Planning Guide On Hosting a #YALILearns Session
March 31, 2016

speakerBy Chukwuma Ephraim Okenwa

As a YALI Network member you have probably taken at least one YALI Network Online Course and earned a certificate and are perhaps contemplating organizing a #YALILearns session to share what you learned with your sphere of contact. However, the challenge might be on how to go about it.

Organizing a #YALILearns session is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart step to take after you have gone through a YALI Network Online Course. It offers you an opportunity to consolidate what you learned and to give back to your community and to help mentor other young Africans.

#YALILearns sessions involve educating your community with shared YALI Network resources, hence you should never charge a fee to participants.

You will find the steps outlined here a useful guide for hosting a successful #YALILearns session.

Stick to the Basics
Which YALI Network online course do you wish to facilitate? That should help to give a clue what kind of audience you will have to engage. Choose an audience whose individuals are directly or indirectly concerned with the proposed topic. Someone organizing a #YALILearns session on climate change, may consider inviting farmers, government agencies or individuals.

Farmers could be encouraged by such a session to do more for afforestation. Individuals will learn how their small actions can negatively impact our climate and how slight adjustments on their part will help greatly in reversing the trend. The government agencies in turn will be motivated to sponsor bills that will favor the climate.

A topic such as “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls” sounds appropriate for a feminine audience but in the real sense is good for the male folks, who in most cases are the culprits when it comes to gender-based violence.

A civic leadership course would make much sense to leaders of NGOs and leaders of civil society groups.

The course objectives can serve as a guide in deciding what kind of persons will benefit the most from your #YALILearns session. Each lesson includes a discussion guide with objectives and important points for your audience.

Choice of Venue

yl 2Choosing a venue will have great impact on your session. The venue for the session sets the mood and tone before your audience arrives.

Consider using a natural environment with green areas or trees for your event on climate change; a Women’s Development Centre for the topic Paving Way for the Women Entrepreneurs, etc.
Where such relative venues are not readily accessible, the available one can be modified to reflect the theme of your session

A #YALILearns session can actually be held in any venue that you consider conducive to your audience; the environment automatically becomes a #YALILearns “classroom” once the online course is streamed, or when the transcripts are distributed and discussed among participants.

Aesthetics such as roll-up banners, relevant charts/pictures can also help to reflect the theme, but are not at all obligatory. A small group could discuss these important issues and review materials in any venue at all.

As the administrator at a school, I have access to a site that is optimal for learning. It is equipped with computers and printers. If there are similar venues near you, I would recommend that you contact them to see if they would let you use their space. When I make use of the school premises where I work, I do so at no cost. However on two occasions when I hosted the #YALILearns sessions at some other venues, I took time to share the vision of YALI and the purpose of the #YALILearns sessions with the owners of such place; the goodwill was awesome. I got discounts of 90% and 50% respectively. In those cases, I fund the session myself and I take delight in doing so. YALI educates me for free and that’s my own little way of extending the same opportunities to my own sphere of contacts. When you find a venue that is willing to support #YALILearns, share it with others. I have told the YALI Network members within Enugu, Nigeria to feel free to apply to use my school for their #YALILearns session – at no cost!

Promote Your Event

Create your event and invite YALI Network members in the areas near you. Post your event flyer to the YALI Network LinkedIn group page, community Facebook groups, or with your local U.S. Embassy.

You can invite friends, family and others via SMS, Whatsapp or email. I have found bulk SMS quite effective. Speaking to individuals on one-on-one basis has also yielded good results.

A letter of invitation is also recommended, if you wish to invite high profile individuals in your community, but again, this is not required. You can facilitate many of these courses without inviting high profile individuals. You are probably more of an expert on many of these topics than you give yourself credit for – and starting a conversation with the discussion guides makes the session inclusive and participatory In addition, there will be audience members who will be able to contribute their knowledge to the conversation.

Be Consistent with #YALILearns Ideals
You can present the YALI Network Online Course either by streaming the video or audio, downloading the video or audio, or you can print and distribute the written transcripts to participants.

Be sure to review the lesson discussion guides for the course you wish to facilitate. Find time to watch the lesson, Designing and Delivering Training. In all, let the learning objectives serve as a sure guide to evaluating how successful your session was.

Be sure to keep records of your sessions highlights, pictures or video and sometimes a communiqué are reasonably expected.

Make it Very Interactive

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Have participants choose a partner and have each person introduce themselves briefly. This should include name, occupation and personal interests/motivation and way(s) the individual serves to improve his community.

Initiate brief discussions after watching each segment of the video. Give room for group activity by splitting the participants into small groups to brainstorm on relevant issues connected with the course and having a selected person by the group to present to the whole audience what they discussed in their unit groups.

Awareness skits are another great way to engage the participants. For instance if you are facilitating a session on the topic “Supporting a Girl’s Right to Learn, you can have a participant play the role of an out-of-school girl and have another person try to convince her to go back to school. At the end of the skit, ask the out-of-school girl, if she was indeed convinced.

Encourage participants to share their experiences where applicable. A #YALILearns session on “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls”, would be made even more impactful, for example, if people willingly shared their experiences or stories of gender-based violence.

After the session, I make room for the participants to respond to the lectures, sharing with us things they were able to LEARN, UNLEARN, AND RELEARN and how they intend to take advantage of their new experience to do things differently. Thereafter I advocate strongly for participants to visit yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com, review the course once more and take the online quiz to earn their YALI Network Online Course certificate.

Keep the flow
Encourage participants to join the YALI Network at yali.state.gov/network. Collect the participants names and submit them alongside your report on the #YALILearns feedback page.

The email address that you submitted could assist in inviting them to join the biggest network of young African Leaders.

Most importantly remember to share the highlights of your events with other YALI Network members.

This will inspire other Network members to do likewise, thus resulting in an ever increasing impact. You can start now!

Interested in learning more about #YALILearns? Learn how you can facilitate your own session on our #YALILearns page.