By: Maddison Hall

Maddison HallWhen I joined WI-HER in the Fall of 2018, I had just returned to school as a Master of Public Health candidate in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. I immediately began working on country-level desk reviews as part of the USAID ASSIST Project, and I continued to write and contribute to a variety of desk reviews spanning a range of topics during the year. I had undertaken research projects in my undergraduate studies and had gathered evidence to develop programs in my career before returning to school, but I had not ever completed a desk review. My mentors at WI-HER guided me through the process, providing feedback and support as I learned to identify appropriate resources and build the evidence I acquired into a cohesive written format.

With encouragement from Allison Foster, WI-HER’s Vice President, I undertook a special project over the summer to transform the knowledge I gained completing desk reviews into a capacity building training. I worked closely with Allison to identify learning objectives that could help someone build or refine skills in writing desk reviews. This project aligned closely with my own passion for ongoing learning and capacity building, and it allowed me to bolster my own skills in training development using an online format.

While the goal of this training is to cultivate skills among others, it also served as a learning experience for me. Completing this project brought about its own set of opportunities and challenges. A major hurdle to designing the training was prioritizing the topics and skills we would include in the training modules. I had to recognize that every person completing the training would come from different backgrounds and remind myself not to skip the basics while ensuring that more experienced writers could also learn something from the training. This was particularly challenging for me as I had only worked on creating trainings for groups of people with whom I had interacted. This project also provided me with the opportunity to explore a variety of accessible learning management systems and web design tools that would meet my needs and also function well for our end users. I am excited that we were able to build some interactive activities and opportunities for feedback into the training, so we will be able to know more about learner experiences as people begin accessing the modules.

This training is an example of WI-HER’s commitment to building capacity for research among staff, partners, and other professionals. The training I developed will now be hosted on WI-HER’s website for anyone to complete. To access the training modules, please visit our new trainings page.