Project spotlight: Hybrid online and live training amidst the Ebola crisis in Liberia

Across 2015 and 2016, InsightShare delivered participatory video training to the Lutheran Church of Liberia, funded by the Church of Sweden, during the peak of an Ebola crisis in the country. Here we discuss how we employed a hybrid online and face-to-face format to ensure the important work of local partners could continue despite the virus epidemic. 

Why was this training delivered online?

At the time of the training, Liberia was experiencing an outbreak of the Ebola virus, meaning that social gathering and international travel to and from the country were restricted.

The Church of Sweden, who funded this training, were keen to continue fulfilling their commitment to local capacity building despite the epidemic. Therefore, while the original plan had been to train new local participatory video facilitators face-to-face, InsightShare developed bespoke remote training so that local, community-led development could continue.

The online training was used to lay the groundwork for additional face to face training once the Ebola virus was contained and restrictions were lifted.

“Reflection is built into the process. For every step you take, stop and look, and then step forward. Evaluating what we did after we did it speeds up skills sharing.”

– Participatory video trainee, Lutheran Church of Liberia

Who was the online training for?

Remote training was delivered for staff members of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, who work with a range of key local groups such as youth, health workers, and ebola survivors. 

They planned to use participatory video methodology to share stories from the ground about the impact of the ebola crisis, and to integrate it into their work for building self-esteem, community development and advocacy. 

What happened during the online training?

During the live online sessions, trainees were introduced to the fundamentals of participatory video theory and practice. They learnt basic video production and post-production skills, and were guided through the planning, shooting and editing of practice films. 

Live reflections and discussions supported the trainees to rapidly develop their skills by adapting the methodology to the local context. Trainers were available online to provide ongoing mentoring and guidance, providing trainees with a support mechanism through which issues can be addressed and resolved efficiently.

To account for the low level of initial media literacy amongst trainees, InsightShare’s training used demonstration video clips, visual explanations about equipment, online presentations and a range of examples. 

“The training has increased my confidence to work with communities. It has strengthened my working relationship with communities and given me new ways of identifying community problems and involving them in finding the solutions.” –

Participatory video trainee, Lutheran Church of Liberia

What happened after the online training?

In May 2016, InsightShare were able to visit the Lutheran Church of Liberia in Liberia for a continuation of the organisation’s training in participatory video.

During this first visit, an expanded group of trainees learnt about how to develop inter-personal relationships and teamwork, and explored participatory activities. InsightShare’s trainers built on the skills that had been passed on in the online training, including on editing, data management, approaches to community development and how trainees can pass on their new skills through community placements.

The next phase of the project involved a three-month trainee participatory video assignment, during which trainees carried out their own projects with support from InsightShare through online mentoring and troubleshooting. 

In October 2016, InsightShare’s trainers again travelled to Liberia for the final phase of the capacity building training. During these sessions, trainees carried out participatory assessments of their assignments and self-assessments of their skills and practices, as well as an evaluation of the training programme as a whole. The group considered next steps for the Lutheran Church of Liberia, and how their new skills should be incorporated into the organisation’s programmes. 

What were the outcomes?

The face-to-face workshops reinforced the impressive skills that had been developed during the Skype training. 

Trainees made two fifteen minute films within two local communities which demonstrated the potential of the tool to engage communities with their own reality, and seek solutions from within. The films were screened to the management of the organisation, as well as at a very successful community screening 

By the end of InsightShare’s training with the Lutheran Church of Liberia, thanks to the funding by Church of Sweden, it was observed that trainees had gained deep understanding of participatory practices and community development. The new trainees were motivated to use their skills to embed participatory video within the organisation’s programmes.



Are you interested in how InsightShare can help your organise reach more diverse voices? Explore our services here or contact us to discuss partnerships.

Find out more about how our network of Indigenous hubs are responding to the COVID-19 crisis here: COVID-19: Indigenous Insights.

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