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Conference round up - ELN Event Summary

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DateMarch 08, 2010 Posted by: Nige Howarth   Keywords: award winning, Conference roundup, culture, innovation, learner engagement

The e-learning Network held its most recent event on Friday 5th March 2010 in London with the theme – “Proven Recipes for Learning Success”. Chaired by Piers Lea of LINE with support from ELN committee member Rob Hubbard of Learning Age Solutions, the event featured presentations from those with proven records of success; organisations who have overcome the pitfalls and challenges that come with any major change programme, and who have been able to exploit the many opportunities that e-learning brings. It was an opportunity for the attendees to hear from winners of e-Learning Awards for 2009 and to learn what it takes to be the best in all aspects of workplace e-learning.

Here’s a brief summary of the day:

Previously published on our website and featured in the e-learning Age magazine, Alison Innes-Farquhar presented the very compelling Care Management Group case study which won ‘The best e-learning project securing widespread adoption’ at the e-learning Awards 2009. Using the Towards Maturity model as the basis for their strategy, Alison described how they needed to make some significant changes in training provision and how e-learning has supported a dramatic turnaround in the organisation.

It’s important to recognise that this is a care-focussed working environment with low levels of PC literacy across their workforce of 1,500 staff who are mostly front-line carers and care workers. In Alison’s own words – “there were powerful drivers for e-learning but many barriers to adoption”.  She emphasised that stakeholder engagement was critically important and they held a workshop with the key stakeholders to outline their strategy and to gain support and endorsement. She explained the clear links between clear definition of need, alignment to the business, setting the learner and work context, securing engagement, building capacity and delivering value – the very essence of our work at Towards Maturity.
They established the brand ‘Fulfilling Potential’ which subsequently became part of the corporate brand, which is a great endorsement in itself! Launched initially through a multimedia presentation themed ‘Every Moment Has Potential’ the programme has been a resounding success with very high adoption rates. 99% of their staff has completed 12,800 modules of e-learning which represents 18,449 hours of learning all in the first year. And that’s in an organisation with poor IT infrastructure, low levels of PC literacy and a workforce of front-line carers. In fact in their own internal staff satisfaction survey undertaken in September 2009, training was the overwhelming winner when staff were asked ‘what’s the best thing that CMG have done’? Terrific achievement.

Dr Edward Hammond, a qualified anaesthetist who is involved in numerous projects and with various professional bodies, presented ‘e-learning for Anaesthesia’ (eLA) on behalf of e-learning for Health at the Department of Health. Edward is responsible for e-learning standards in the NHS. Anaesthesia is the largest medical speciality and it takes 14 years to be fully trained. This joint initiative between the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Department of Health won the gold award at the e-learning awards 2009 for ‘Best Online or Distance Learning Project’.

Edward stated that the Radiology Integrated Tool Initiative (known as R-ITI) was the catalyst for the Dept of Health to look to do more with e-learning. In fact you can learn more about the R-ITI project here. There are currently 57 different e-learning projects in the Dept of Health ranging from 2 hour to 2,000 hour sessions. This particular project for anaesthetists is in partnership with the professional body using proven technology. It is made freely available throughout the NHS and shared services.

The training is complex combining knowledge, skills and attitude. They’ve learnt of the need to understand differences at a ‘local’ level in order to provide training at a ‘national’ level, and of course e-learning consistently delivers content to an agreed national standard. In this particular programme the content takes two years to complete and is broken down into 7 blocks of competency in the overall curriculum. It was good to hear that ‘learning objects’ are alive and kicking as the content features 20-30 minute segments of learning.

In fact e-LA offers the following components as part of the blended solution:

  • e-Learning Sessions – Over 1,000 knowledge and scenario based sessions covering the first two years of the anaesthetic curriculum. Each session takes around 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • e-Library – free and direct access to thousands of full-text journal articles which have been cross-referenced and mapped to the anaesthetic curriculum.
  • e-CPD – articles and associated MCQs to support general and core topic based continuing professional development for trainees and trainers.
  • e-Assessment – formative assessments with feedback that will test the user’s understanding of the knowledge based sessions and introduce students to the standard expected at the FRCA exam.

They allocate approx 200 hours of learning per individual per year with e-learning being used as part of a blended programme. There are approx 400 different authors working on the project as they seek to move anaesthetists through the 3 stages of learning, comprehension and application. As Edward explained they want to ‘make the learning experience active rather than passive, interesting rather than dull’.

Evaluation data reveals that content is used by anaesthetists just before an exam and that constant feedback is invaluable. It’s the largest single subject e-learning project in the NHS and you can learn more at www.e-la.org.uk.

Next was one of the regular contributors to Towards Maturity, Lars Hyland of Brightwave who spoke about ‘Designing e-learning for Impact’. Lars focussed on creative and effective design and using the ‘IMPACT’ metaphor he demonstrated a number of excellent examples as follows:

  • Interaction – PWC and IKEA (Missing Stock).
  • Multimedia – BUPA (Virtual Call Centre) and SKY (Customer Care)
  • Personal – O2 (Diversity & Equality) and Virgin (Manual Handling)
  • Actionable – T-Mobile
  • Challenging - SKY
  • Timing

To liven up the normal ‘graveyard’ slot after lunch the ELN held its first Pecha Kucha session which seemed to go down very well. For those not familiar with PechaKucha it was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. The ELN persuaded four of its members to ‘have a go’! Claire Line of Lovells, Katherine Chapman of Capita National Strategies, Viv Cole from Redtray and Matt Brewer from Chubb who emerged as the winner! I think that grants Matt the dubious pleasure of having to do it all again!

Nick Shackleton-Jones of the BBC presented on a ‘New Framework for Learning Design’ which has been used in ‘Upfront’ a new online induction programme. What was fascinating about Nick’s session was how the focus is on encouraging people to care enough about changing behaviour, and that means that emotion is seen as being very important. After all in real life there are emotional outcomes to what is learnt so they seek to capture that passion in the learning.

Nick and his team use different presenters to help to connect with a wider and diverse audience in the BBC. He shared examples from their selection and interview process modules to show emotional context with strong authenticity. He also introduced the audience to what they call ‘tribes’ at the BBC – a term used to describe different audiences with different ways of learning. They adapt the e-learning for these different tribes in the organisation – this includes the creation of a series of A5 sized cards used for reference and to provide insight. These cards defer by tribe!

Finally Major Daisy Mundy from the British Army talked about ‘Operation Numerika’ a basic numeracy programme based on a Nintendo DS. She’s part of the Directorate of Training who follow a systemised approach to learning through needs analysis, design/development, delivery and evaluation. All soldiers have to complete level 1 numeracy and literacy within 3 years with literacy the priority.

Time is very precious for soldiers although they do have what she described as ‘dead time’ which is when they are often waiting for something to happen while on operations. This led them to consider portable devices and they selected the Nintendo DS as this would help to overcome the barriers and obstacles they faced.

They have a wide number of stakeholders and they worked with their commercial developer (Epic) to develop ‘Operation Numerika’. She stressed that over the years the army have learnt that ‘Context is King’! Apart from the Nintendo DS they are also looking at more flexible devices such as the Apple iTouch for more experienced soldiers.

So what can we learn from the event?
It’s the sheer diversity of audience, organisation and history with learning technologies that most struck me and what is being achieved.

Take Care Management Group where their staff rate the training as the best thing that CMG have done for them and that’s in an organisation with poor IT infrastructure, low levels of PC literacy and a workforce of front-line carers. ‘e-learning for Anaesthesia’ (eLA) is the largest single subject e-learning project in the NHS with structured content, assessment, qualification and reference material all part of the eLA online solution. Brightwave with their creative and effective design examples across diverse businesses. Nick Shackleton-Jones at the BBC and their focus on emotion and encouraging people to care enough about changing behaviour, and finally the British Army utilising mobile devices (Nintendo DS) to meet the needs for soldiers to achieve level 3 in numeracy.

There are always lessons to be learnt from those harnessing learning technologies and delivering value in their organisations. As a key partner of Towards Maturity the e-learning Network is a further source for guidance on best practice and future trends in technology-based learning and development at work. The eLN has more than 1500 members in the UK and beyond.

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