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National School of Government reaches ¼ million learners

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DateApril 02, 2010 Posted by: Howard Hills   Keywords: benefits, learner engagement, managing change

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The National School of Government faced the challenge of delivering learning on data security right across Government, all departments and many individuals. The audience were very diverse, the programme had to be suitable for all civil servants, of all grades – most senior to most junior, specialists, military, administrative and support staff.

Change in behaviour has to be achieved in organisations managed in very different ways and with different cultures; let alone get over the inertia of out-of-date practices in use for a long time.
There was a variety of technical infrastructures and some departments wished to host the learning themselves, others did not.

The National School of Government worked with their e-Learning supplier (Epic) to create a short engaging but focused e-learning programme that  used scenarios to presente security and protection of data in a positive light concentrating on its benefits, particularly for the public.  To increase access across departments, the programme was designed to be suitable for all platforms and meeting all key government technical and usability requirements.

As a result ,over 250,000 individuals have completed the programme, eight times the number of learners as any previous e-learning initiatives . The shared service aspect of the initiative saved each and every department the time and money to develop their own solutions to data security training and has ensured standard practices being adopted across government.

We are pleased to include this programme in our Evidence for Change initiative as it clearly shows that:

  • Learners are now more confident; 99% of learners will now ensure they have the authority to release information; a rise from 53%
  •  Learners are more knowledgeable; 98% know how to send information securely, a rise from 43% before training.

It was clear that the learning design has played a key role in this success. The scenarios are liked by the learners who engage with the content and instructional design; most importantly staff also tell their colleagues. There is no substitute for direct peer-to-peer marketing.   

Ten Top Tips from the National School for Government

1. Get key stakeholders engaged from the start of the process
2. Understand the technical barriers and how these might be overcome – like providing different ways to access the learning.
3. Be clear about who will be doing what.
4. Set expectations about what can be achieved from the outset
5. Have a clear project management structure with definite milestones
6. Have a clear decision making process. There will be many opinions expressed all of which need to be listened to but ultimately there needs to be a definitive mechanism for coming to a conclusion
7. Leave some wriggle room. There will always be things that come up unexpectedly.
8. Leave sufficient time for a pilot before going live- a working model is better than a description on paper.
9. Remember that the project does not finish at launch- people will need ongoing support
10. But to help keep the cost of this reasonable make sure that everything is simple to use

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