The homestretch is here. There are two more months until the traditional education program ends and Pathways becomes the sole education program available to members. When July 1—the first day of the new program year—arrives, be prepared for the transition.
If you’re not there yet, you can still get on track. Many District and club leaders are providing help in a variety of ways. These include giving special presentations about Pathways at club meetings, discussing Pathways at training events, appointing members to District-created Pathways leadership positions, and holding workshops to help members practice navigating Base Camp, the online gateway to the Pathways learning experience.
“As we count down to the sunset of the traditional program, it’s reassuring to see most Districts providing resources and support for clubs and members transitioning to Pathways,” says Michelle Alba-Lim, DTM, a Pathways leader and Oregon resident who belongs to online and online/in-person clubs in the United States, Canada, and the Philippines.
The longtime Toastmaster leads a team of seven volunteers moderating a Pathways discussion forum on Facebook. She started the forum in 2017 for Toastmasters to ask questions or express thoughts related to Pathways. Through the forum—as well as her own extensive experience with Pathways—she has learned what many Districts around the world do to help their members with the education program.
A Past District 7 Director, she cited four Districts in particular who are doing excellent work—providing leadership, resources, and even their own Pathways webpage. These include:
- District 3 in Arizona
- District 57 in Northern California
- District 62 in Michigan
- District 73 in Australia
These Districts provide Pathways-related infographics, short video tutorials, and an array of other useful materials, she adds.
“More importantly, these Districts have a dedicated Pathways help desk chair, guide, or coordinator who answers questions and provides training to clubs and members.”
A Custom Approach
Like the personalized learning in Pathways itself, many Districts are customizing their strategies to meet members’ particular needs. District 83 Director Lynda Starr, DTM, of Morris County, New Jersey, says her District takes a hands-on approach to helping members use Base Camp. District leaders have frequently conducted how-to workshops for part of the meeting—or sometimes the whole session. Members can also share their screens if working virtually.
“We encourage members to bring their devices, like laptops and tablets, so we can walk them through it,” Starr explains. “They show us what they normally do and then we navigate them through what to actually do.”
Such training helps acclimate even longtime members to the Pathways learning experience, she says. “I think it’s like anything else. You have to get comfortable with it.”
Some Districts have created specific resources or channels of communication. In District 82 (Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, India), Pathways leaders created groups on the WhatsApp platform (a messaging application) to connect Pathways trainers and give members a place to ask questions and get fast answers. Sateesh Kumar Subramaniam, DTM, of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, says WhatsApp is particularly popular in his country and surrounding countries, which has made it a great avenue for communication among trainers in such a large District. A special group was created just for Club Vice Presidents Education and Presidents.
“As we count down to the sunset of the traditional program, it’s reassuring to see most Districts providing resources and support for clubs and members transitioning to Pathways.”—Michelle Alba-Lim, DTM
“We posted tips for them to help them get used to the content,” says Subramaniam. “When a club had a question, we encouraged them to post it to the entire group so all clubs could see the answer.”
In fact, this channel was so effective that the District chose to maintain it for a year longer than Pathways training was required within the District. This helped it to connect with members who were more hesitant to start in Pathways.
Subramaniam noted that members’ questions have primarily revolved around navigating Base Camp. (There are a number of tutorials on Base Camp that can help answer questions about topics such as evaluation forms and working in projects.)
Adapting to Change
Mark Snow, DTM, of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, says his District treated the rollout of Pathways like a change-management exercise. This involved thinking of what could go wrong and how to prevent that from happening.
“Prior planning prevents poor performance,” Snow says. He was the Pathways Chief Ambassador—volunteer members selected by the Pathways development team at World Headquarters—in District 69 and helped guide the Pathways rollout there.
District 69 has seen many of its members join Pathways, though some members are still resistant, struggling with change, says Snow. For clubs with lower adoption rates, he says he and other District leaders are working directly with those members to understand their difficulties and give them the tools they need.
Just as Pathways volunteers originally helped train District leaders, now club leaders and others are working out their own ways to help each other. Snow, who has a DTM in Pathways, says he often sees Club VPEs conducting mini-education sessions in club meetings or even sitting with new members after meetings to help them get started on Base Camp.
“Pathways is now tribal knowledge. Members can help each other.”
Shaelyn Berg worked on the Pathways development team at Toastmasters World Headquarters and is now a freelance writer and editor.