Ben’s Friends created a user-friendly online training facility that makes learning about providing support to patients simple and easy. Dubbed as Ben’s Friends U or Ben’s Friends University, it makes use of Google Classroom to create one virtual classroom for Moderators and another one for the Interns.

Using this G-suite tool, the Ben’s Friends team is able to build a “library” of links to learning materials such as documents, websites and video resources. Interaction between the teachers and students is also easy because the tool allows participating in learning activities, including evaluation, within the website just like inside a physical classroom.

At present, the Ben’s Friends U Moderators’ classroom contains guides about what Moderators do, how to approve new members and the values of every Ben’s Friends Moderator. Users can also learn more about chronic conditions and mental health so they are better equipped when communicating with members. 

BF Classroom

The Interns’ Classroom, on the other hand, allows users to learn basic member skills like creating a new account, posting a reply, and navigating a community homepage. Materials about Discourse, the software used to run the patient communities, are also available. 

Who can use these classrooms?

The classrooms are exclusive and only those who have been invited to participate can enter.

Essentially, Interns and Moderators will be able to go to their classroom web address and do reading, submit assignments, message the instructors, ask questions and have group discussions all in one place. 

The work is all individual progress so the Interns and Moderators visit and work in the classroom at their own pace and convenience. Learner progress can be easily tracked, and modifications can be made to the Ben’s Friends U content as the need arises.

Timetable and future plans

Co-Executive Directors and Ben’s Friends U instructors Clasina Field and Tom Lambdin started this project last October. With the help of some Moderators and Ben’s Friends President and Co-founder Ben Munoz, the alpha testing went on smoothly and the beta stage started within a few weeks. 

The team is now applying some finishing touches and the Moderators and Interns can soon fully enjoy these learning facilities.

Ben is surely very proud of what the team has built. “The reason we are the #1 patient support network on the internet is because we have the best mods! This training and coaching is a big part of that.”

On his part, Tom cannot wait to see how this project further improves the already superb performance of the team. “The opening of the Ben’s Friends U campus is really exciting. Our highly skilled Moderators and enthusiastic Interns are instrumental in keeping our communities the safest and most supportive on the internet. This will surely bring our work to the next level.”

Asked about the long term plans for Ben’s Friends U, Clasina said, “Eventually, we hope to introduce video instruction and live conferencing to the classrooms. These innovations we’re doing make collaboration among team members so much easier. And that is big for a team that interacts only virtually.”