Yes, IMI will be recognising training conducted entirely online

In emerging international standards, IMI first assembles an independent and representative taskforce to consider relevant issues and commence drafting. This goes to the public for feedback prior to finalisation, and potential implementation for IMI-recognised programs.

The training criteria were first launched in 2017, and IMI announced the possibility for quality training programs to be recognised by IMI beginning January 2019. People completing approved programs could be submitted to IMI and then be recognised as ‘IMI Qualified Mediators’.

In October 2019, we advised that the guidelines had been designed for the training of mediators who would mainly be mediating in a face-to-face physical environment. Language was tweaked accordingly, at which point IMI said it would not be recognising training conducted entirely online.

When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic began, IMI started receiving increased requests from mediation training providers, asking whether IMI would revisit its stance on online-only programs, and whether training delivered via existing IMI-recognised programs, out of necessity being conducted online, could be recognised as meeting IMI’s standards during the pandemic

IMI recognised that it did not know how long this crisis would last, and it wished to support its mediators and the organisations with which it was associated.  To that end, the IMI’s Training and Competency Assessment Taskforce agreed that organisations that have existing Certified Mediator Training Programs would be permitted to temporarily deliver that training online if they submitted a methodology document indicating how they would ensure they are delivering the same program to the same standards, identifying challenges and how they will be overcome, and;offered an in-person role-play component to be undertaken in future once it becomes possible. Only once that in-person role-play component had been completed would course graduates be entitled to become IMI Qualified Mediators. (News item here.)

However, even preceding the pandemic, IMI had received questions about the recognition of online-only training.  This referred specifically to delivering initial mediation training online (rather than in-person), as opposed to training specifically in online mediation, which is associated with IMI’s existing ODR competency criteria.

To this end, IMI invited training providers who had made the move online and mediators who had taken the training online to provide feedback on protocols and lessons learned.  Based on those learnings and discussions, the IMI decided to accept training delivered in part or entirely online as meeting the standards required of IMI Certified Mediator Training Programs.

The guidelines were then again reviewed. Reviews were first performed by the Taskforce, then sent for public feedback and consideration, and then finalised in the format found on the criteria page. The guidelines now apply equally to programs that deliver training in-person, in hybrid formats, and online.

Overview of changes

4. Course duration: Where courses are online-only, the minimum of 40 hours may include up to 10% asynchronous learning undertaken as part of the course.

5. Group size: It is recommended that courses, whether online or in-person, have a maximum class size of 30 students, with the maximum trainer-student ratio for exercises and discussion being 1:10, and for role plays and coaching 1:6.

Note: Following public feedback, the maximum class sizes for in-person and online courses were both set to the existing number of 30, and clarifications were made over expected trainer ratios for different components of the course.

6. Minimum requirements for delivering online training

This entire item is new; please see the criteria page. Following public feedback, the comment that “Organisations delivering training are encouraged to provide opportunities for participants to meet informally at stages of the course to build rapport and camaraderie” was moved from an expectation to a suggestion.

9. Setting up role plays:  When role plays are used as assessments, these should be supervised by the assessor or a course manager 100% of the role play time.  Course managers may fulfil this role where assessments are recorded for off-site/asynchronous assessment by independent assessors

11. Performance assessment and accreditation

This section has been updated into items that apply to ‘all programs’ and an addendum that applies where participants have only taken part in the course online. There is requirement for a post-course assignment that includes an in-person role play (following public feedback, the format is no longer restricted to a joint AND a private session), and a reflective exercise. The purpose of this post-course assignment is practice and reflection, and not assessment per se.

See the full criteria page.

What now?

IMI are now redeveloping the training program application form to take into account these changes. This is likely to take approx. 3 weeks, following which organisations will be able to apply for recognition of their programs.

Organisations whose training is already recognised by IMI as an IMI Certified Mediator Training Program, and who lodged a COVID adaptations document that meets the requirements of the updated criteria, and who have otherwise conducted appropriate assessment online, will have the option of having their students complete the post-course assignment rather than needing to do the in-person post-course practice day. Those students will then be eligible to become IMI Qualified.

In short, as IMI will be recognising programs that are delivered online by default, we will also be recognising programs that have exceptionally been delivered online during COVID, with the same restrictions in place.

IMI will contact all affected organisations once the form has been updated; in the meantime, such organisations are advised to prepare their post-course assignment capabilities. They will have priority in appraisal.

Individuals, please note that you must complete an IMI-recognised training program to be recognised by IMI; there is no other recognition pathway available.

Thank you to everybody for your support in this initiative, and for your dedication to mediation standards worldwide.

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