04. March 2024

A perfect blend: how tech powers learning and training at the Basel Institute

Collage of learners sitting around a table at computers

At the Basel Institute we connect our IT, eLearning and training activities closely. The result is more effective and efficient capacity building that takes advantage of technological advances while keeping trainees’ learning experience at the centre.

How do we do this? In the hope it is of use to other organisations working to build capacity to counter corruption and recover illicit assets, the short blog below outlines our experiences and approach. For more about the benefits of eLearning in general, see my previous quick guide.

Covid: Virtual learning proves its worth

We introduced our online knowledge and training hub Basel LEARN in early 2020, just as the Covid pandemic was bringing the world to a standstill.

Basel LEARN was initially developed to host our self-paced eLearning courses on financial investigations, asset recovery and related topics. Overnight, it also became our primary platform for instructor-led online training.

In cooperation with our International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) Training Team, we created online versions of our on-site training programmes. These allowed us to continue building capacity even when it was not possible to travel or conduct in-person workshops with groups.

Moving participatory workshops online

ICAR’s training programmes are based on a practical case exercise in which participants work together as investigative teams. Step by step, they investigate financial flows, discover new pieces of evidence and build a corruption and money laundering case against a corrupt public official.

The discussions among teams and with the workshop facilitators are a centrepiece of our training methodology, as explained in this quick guide by former Head of Training Phyllis Atkinson.

To bring this experience to the digital world, we use password-protected activities which can only be unlocked if the group collects sufficient evidence and asks the facilitator the right questions.

We also introduced simulated databases such as land registries, financial intelligence reports and internet searches. These allow the teams to discover evidence on their own when they look for the right keywords.

In combination with video conferencing tools, Basel LEARN thus allowed us to translate the active and participatory approach of our on-site training to the virtual world.

Blended learning: here to stay

Fast forward to 2024 we have more than 40,000 registered users on Basel LEARN. Our newest course, on open-source intelligence investigations, has become the most popular with 6,500 completions since its introduction in 2022.

In-person training feels normal again. But even in their on-site workshops, our Training Team continues to use Basel LEARN’s interactive features. Trainees tell us they are a great enhancement to the learning experience and closer to the real-life tasks of investigators. And providing material digitally saves a lot of printing and paper, too.

Fuelled by the positive feedback about our eLearning courses, we have introduced more and more blended learning elements. For example, participants are often asked to take self-paced eLearning courses before attending an on-site training.

This allows the participants to learn new skills and explore international best practices before applying these “live” in their own contexts during the in-person training. Blended learning thus maximises the benefit they gain from the in-person training and discussions with our Training Team.

Synergies and evolutions

At the Basel Institute, the synergy between Training and IT is a longstanding tradition. Many of the eLearning courses we offer are based on on-site training modules. Trainers have supported the development of eLearning courses as subject matter experts.

In turn, the IT Team has developed tools to help customise and enhance the in-person training programmes. The team has also supported the Basel Institute’s partner agencies in integrating eLearning courses into their own virtual learning websites and professional development curricula. Basel LEARN was a continuation of this tradition, not the start of it.

IT evolves fast. Not all technology trends are useful for training purposes and can even distract learners from acquiring skills – like meaningless animations or forcing users to listen to automated read-outs of the content before they can progress.

But we continuously explore new technologies that prove themselves to be effective and that support interactive, hands-on and practical training. Already this year, we will start the development of an artificial intelligence-enhanced training programme on interviewing skills for financial investigators. New eLearning courses in 2024 will include an advanced two-part course on data harvesting and analysis and an introduction to investigating crypto assets.

Stay tuned for the next steps in our development of more integrated and tech-enhanced ways to learn new skills to fight financial crime. And in the meantime, why not try an eLearning course for yourself?

Peter Huppertz

Head, IT and eLearning
+41 61 205 55 18