Learning-by-Doing in the time of Pandemic: Online Coaching on Political and Economic Analysis and Report Writing
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) successfully completed its Basic Course on Political and Economic Analysis and Report Writing (BCPEAR) on 26 August 2020, even as the Course had to be redesigned during its implementation to adapt to the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seventeen (17) personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) participated in BCPEAR, which FSI conducted on a staggered basis from March through July and August. The Course was temporarily disrupted. When the course sessions resumed, the Institute included new class exercises to reflect current on-the-job practices in the time of pandemic: intelligence gathering, analyzing, and crafting political and economic reports.
As FSI is committed to continue to improve its services, being an ISO certified training and research institution, the Institute’s training team ensured that the Course’s redesign met the criteria of responsiveness to the learning needs of its primary client, the DFA.
An online survey was sent to incumbent Political and Economic officers at Foreign Service Posts to ascertain the specific competencies necessary to do quality work in the political and economic sections of the Embassy. A focused group discussion (FGD) was also organized with Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) who have served as Political and Economic Officers at Post.
The FGD confirmed pertinent data gathered in the online survey, and the results aided in putting together a more responsive Instructional Design for would-be Political and Economic Officers and Assistants. The Course’s redesign process adhered to Competency-based Human Resources principles: Effective Communication, Strategic and Critical Thinking, Partnering, Networking, Collaborating and Consensus Building, External Awareness, Political Savvy, and Foreign Policy Management.
The Course enhanced the learning experience for participants by implementing a hybrid of methodology, such as lecture for theoretical concepts, how-to sessions, storytelling, sharing of experiences in doing field work, and writing exercises on political and economic events, with the outputs reviewed and critiqued by senior FSOs.
Even with the abrupt shift to 100% online learning, the learners, resource persons, and program managers at FSI have seized the opportunities presented by online synchronous learning. The gains from such agility are somehow captured and verified by the participant’s description of their learning experiences in BCPEAR: