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Temporary PSA Grower Training Course Policy Update

Remote Delivery Options During COVID-19 Outbreak

Version 2, Updated: March 26, 2020

Background

The PSA has been asked to consider temporary remote training options in the context of WHO, federal, and other guidance about geographic restriction and social distancing strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19. In response to these requests, the PSA has decided to temporarily amend its current policy for PSA Grower Training delivery. Currently, PSA Grower Training registrations are only approved for in-person courses. PSA prioritizes making sure growers who need to meet § 112.22(c) have access to a course in a way that is consistent with efforts to reduce public health impact of COVID-19.  It is imperative that courses be available, provided for growers in a high-quality manner, and that they do not increase public health risks. The policies outlined below provide options for remote delivery.  They include detailed requirements that must be followed if the PSA Grower Training Course is delivered remotely.  The PSA Team is available to support remote delivery and to answer any questions. 

Policy Amendment

The PSA is temporarily allowing remote delivery of PSA Grower Training Courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy will be in effect until May 31, 2020, with the potential for extending this date pending updates on the pandemic. PSA will rigorously review course evaluations under this temporary policy. PSA reserves the right to revise or rescind the remote delivery option for individual trainers or teams should evaluations indicate this is in the best interest of training participants. Course registrations beyond May 31, 2020 should be based on an in-person delivery (with a physical training address) unless further guidance indicates an extension is needed to allow continuation of remote training delivery. This policy only applies to the delivery of PSA Grower Training Courses.

What You Should Do Now

  • Review the policies below to ensure you are able to meet the requirements of hosting a remote training event.
  • For in-person course registrations which have already been approved by AFDO that you want to cancel, contact AFDO (afdo@afdo.org) to cancel the course.
  • For in-person course registrations which have already been approved by AFDO that you would like to deliver remotely, contact AFDO to cancel the original course, then register a new course by using the PSA Grower Registration Form.
  • New course registrations for remote delivery of trainings to be held before May 31, 2020 must fill out the PSA Grower Registration Form that has been updated to an online webform (same as above).

Remote Course Delivery Requirements

These established PSA Grower Training Course policies apply.
Please reference the Train-the-Trainer manual Course Information section.

  • Lead Trainer Presence: The remote course must have at least one Lead Trainer present to monitor the delivery through the web-based interface through the entire course delivery.
  • Registration of Courses:  See instructions above. Use the PSA Grower Training Registration Form to register a remote PSA Grower Training.
  • Use of Manuals:  Printed PSA Grower Training manuals must be provided to each course attendee. Lead Trainers are responsible for ensuring all course participants have a printed manual at the start of the course. Here are two shipping options:
    • Trainers may order bulk manuals through the bookstore using our standard bookstore order form, then ship the manuals directly to participants.
    • COVID- 19 Special Shipping Option: Trainers may order manuals through the bookstore that are shipped directly to individual participants through the bookstore using our Grower Manual Order Form for Remote Delivery.
      • Trainers will be able to order an entire course worth of manuals and provide each participant’s mailing address so the bookstore can mail them individually. Cost per manual including shipping will be $57 each plus specific state tax. Alaska, Hawaii, US Territories, and US Commonwealths require extra shipping which will be calculated after the order has been placed.
      • The trainer is responsible for paying all bookstore costs including manuals, shipping, and taxes.
      • Trainers should not tell participants to order their own books from the bookstore since there is no way for the bookstore to know what course these participants belong to or to ensure they receive the manual before the course begins.
      • Shipping individual manuals outside the USA is not supported by the bookstore. Trainers for international courses will need to make their own arrangements to make manuals available to remote participants.
  • Course Evaluations: Course evaluations must be provided to all participants. The evaluation for remote courses is now a fillable electronic form and will be provided in the AFDO registration confirmation. The evaluation must be e-mailed to participants prior to the start of the course. PSA Trainers are expected to review the process for submitting the electronic evaluation with course participants in order to ensure a return rate of at least 50%. PSA will be monitoring evaluations for course quality per current PSA evaluation policy.  
  • Participant Attendance: In order to be eligible for the PSA/AFDO Certificate of Course Completion, participants must be present for all PSA course modules. In order to monitor this requirement, participants must have video capability and there must be someone on the training team who is monitoring the course participants during the training. See additional details below.
    • If a participant’s internet connectivity fails, the participant does not appear in the web-platform after breaks, or the participant is not engaged in the course delivery, they are not eligible to receive the PSA/AFDO Certificate of Course Completion. The Lead Trainer may use discretion as to whether they are willing to “catch up” a participant who has an extenuating circumstance which prohibits them from attending the entire course.  One option is to have a one-on-one catch-up session after the course concludes.
  • Multi-Day Delivery: Just as with in-person delivery, multi-day delivery of the course using a remote platform is acceptable. The Lead Trainer must ensure attendance of all participants during each of the course modules.

New course policies specific to remote delivery

Remote Delivery Course Options, Registration, and Advertising

  • Entirely Remote: Courses can be offered using a web-based platform where all participants are remote.  In this case, course registration information must outline what technological requirements (i.e., functioning computer or mobile device with video and audio capabilities, strong internet connectivity) and individual capabilities (e.g., ability to log in, utilize video, audio, and engagement functions like chat boxes and polls) are required by the participants. Organizers of courses that are already registered as in-person courses and plan to now utilize remote delivery should notify participants that the method of delivery has changed.
  • Hybrid Remote: Courses may continue with an in-person gathering, but the PSA Trainers or Lead Trainer may deliver from a remote location.  In this case, there must be someone in charge at the location where participants are gathering and additional technology should be in place to ensure all participants can hear the remote trainer and that the remote trainer can hear participants to allow questions to be answered. Please note, in-person delivery is discouraged based on current CDC Guidance. If in-person trainings are to be conducted, they should follow CDC Guidance for sanitation and social distancing.
  • The PSA Lead Trainer(s) must provide clear and prominent language in the course advertisement(s) and registration information that the course is to be delivered remotely.  As noted above, all advertising and registration information must include equipment and software needed by participants to meet training requirements. 
  • In addition, the course advertisements and registration must include a reminder that participants must be present during all modules of the course to receive the PSA/AFDO certificate of course completion and that attendance and engagement will be monitored throughout the remote delivery. 

Technology Requirements

  • Audio/Visual: PSA Lead Trainer(s) must have visual and audio contact with all course participants through the entire course (e.g., use video conferencing software such as Zoom, Webex, Adobe Connect, or GoToMeeting, with participants visible via webcam and able to unmute their microphones to speak). This means the web-based platform must include a two-way video and audio component and all participants must have functioning video cameras, speakers, and microphones and/or headsets that are used during the entire course.
  • Technical Support: PSA Lead Trainer(s) must ensure that at least one individual on the delivery team is capable of handling the web-based interface. This role includes proper use of the technology, consistent internet connectivity, ability to troubleshoot technical issues that arise during the course such as audio connectivity and display of PowerPoints, use of chat boxes, and other technological features.
    • The individual assigned to technical support can be the PSA Lead Trainer or another member of the teaching team (if multiple trainers are involved), but it is strongly recommended that the role is managed by an additional person so that the PSA Lead Trainer and PSA Trainers can focus on delivery of the content. Remote participants that have technological problems may need extra support, so there should be a plan in place to ensure these individual issues do not disrupt the entire course. A best practice is to invite participants to join the platform 30 minutes prior to the start of the training to check their connectivity.
  • Hybrid Format: In the case where several participants are in one location (e.g., classroom gathering) and the PSA Lead Trainer is remote (e.g., using web-based technology from their office in another part of the state), the on-site trainers or administrative assistant must ensure the presenter can be heard and can hear questions from the audience.
    • Again, in-person trainings are strongly discouraged.
    • If the PSA Lead Trainer is offsite, they must be able to hear all presentations and all questions.  Ideally, participants would be able to see the PSA Lead Trainer so they can ask questions directly.  This may mean passing around a microphone for questions or having participants come to a central area of the room to ask questions so all remote trainers can hear the questions and respond to them. Equipment such as a Meeting Owl, Polycom CX5500, or other 360 degree meeting cameras may help facilitate these interactions.

Participant Attendance & Engagement

  • All remote courses must appoint a course monitor to verify participant engagement and attendance.
    • This course monitor must take attendance at the beginning of the course and periodically throughout the course, such as after breaks, to ensure all participants are present and engaged. The course monitor must also keep track of participant engagement through the video functionality of the web-based interface.
    • The training team can alternate serving as course monitor while they are not presenting, or an administrative assistant may serve as the course monitor.

Course Audits & Lead Trainer Responsibilities

  • PSA reserves the right to conduct course audits to ensure the effective delivery of the curriculum materials and that all PSA policies are being followed.
    • This may include PSA team members being granted access to log in to the online course or contacting course participants directly to elicit feedback on the course quality and trainer effectiveness.
  • PSA reserves the right to suspend and/or permanently revoke PSA Lead Trainer status for all PSA Lead Trainers involved in the remote course if information from evaluations, other trainers, or participant comments indicate that PSA policies were not followed. Each course is expected to have an evaluation return rate of at least 50%.

Best Practices & Suggestions for Engagement

Hosting web-based courses presents many challenges to both the educator and the learner. Here are some key considerations as PSA Lead Trainers and training teams consider and/or plan for a remote course delivery.

  • Select a web interface that you and your team are familiar with and conduct at least one test run with the training team.
    • Some examples of common web interfaces include ZoomWebExAdobe Connect, and GoToMeeting.  A specific platform is not required, but the platform that is used must have both audio and video functionality for all participants.
  • As noted above, allow participants to log in to the meeting for a test run prior to the course to ensure their connection works and does not cause delays in the delivery of the material.
  • At the start of the course, briefly review and practice how to mute and unmute audio, as this could significantly impact the quality of the course and ability for participants (and trainers) to hear the presentations and discussion.
  • Consider the use of “attention track” or equivalent functionality in the web interface to monitor participant engagement. For example, Zoom has an attention tracking functionality that may be helpful.
  • Be sensitive to participant privacy concerns. Some web interfaces may include a functionality where the video of individual participants is only shared with the trainers and facilitators, but not with other participants. This can help maintain participant privacy and reduce distraction, as they may be attending courses in their homes, but still allow trainers to confirm participation and engagement.
  • Make use of best available technology.  Audio-visual technology such as Meeting Owl, Polycom CX5500, or other 360 degree meeting cameras could improve the trainers’ ability to see, hear, and connect with participants that elect to gather as a small group in a remote location.
  • Foster interaction between the instructor and course participants. The training team should incorporate multiple forms of engagement through verbal discussions, chat or Q&A box activities, interactive polling, short video clips, or other forms of online engagement. Currently-available training activities can be adapted for online use. A few examples are provided below.

Questions & Support

The PSA team is available to answer any questions that you may have about this policy. In addition, the PSA team can help you work through any remote delivery considerations and concerns you may have to make the course effective for all participants. If you need additional PSA Lead Trainers, consider visiting the PSA Trainer directory or contact the PSA team and we will do our best to accommodate you.  

Please contact the Extension Associate in your region or the PSA Director if you have any questions: