Justice Academy at MoJ

by | May 26, 2010 | Articles

Mergers and organisational re-alingnments means people find themselves working in new teams and structures. They need a common sense of purpose and a sense of belonging to something new. Learning and Development is the key enabler of this unification process.

With geographically spread teams e-learning is the fastest and best value investment in bringing together large teams and disparate departments. The Mininstry of Justice used a strategic development of an on-line academy (the Justice Academy) to establish a clear identity across the Ministry; to distinguish, for all its employees, the Ministry from the Home Office.

The Ministry’s investment in e-learning demonstrates a top down strategic approach rare in introducing e-learning. A strategy of business driven learning was established first; business leaders were in charge supported by Learning and Development professionals. This created a pan-departmental identity for learning at the Ministry of Justice, a key element of which is the Justice Academy. This is a strategic response for delivering and tracking e-Learning as part of a blended delivery strategy.

The learning strategy is underpinned by a clear set of principles:

  • To support the goal of business-driven learning.  The provision of learning that supports the achievement of business results is considered a key enabler and differentiator of an employer.  It is vital that learning is directly relevant to business goals.
  • To enable leaders to develop and grow.  A key element of an organisational capability particularly in times of turbulence is the quality of leadership at all levels.
  • To create a culture of openness and equal opportunity.  Everyone has a part to play, indeed an important part to play in the performance and success of the organisation.
  • To support greater efficiency in the public sector.  Whilst reducing cost may not be the prime motivator for investing in learning technologies it is essential that every function must increase its efficiency by increasing output and driving down cost.
  • To create access for everyone.  Delivery at any time and in any place is a significant benefit of blended learning and the strategy required of 24 x 7 service provision for learning.

Right at the beginning the business identified two key learning priorities; induction and performance management.  These early pilots established credibility with internal stakeholders by speed of delivery, quality and content.  The priorties were met with scenario based learning using real life vignettes based within the Ministry of Justice.

Rapid delivery (within eight weeks with piloting over four weeks before full release) gave the project early credibility. The pilot period allowed review and feedback by learners enabling modification where required.  The pilots built expectations amongst users simplifying future marketing. The early success of these two courses have led to individual departments seeking to use the Justice Academy to deliver local initiatives and an ongoing programme of pan-department learning.

Five main styles of content delivery are used:

  • In Theory articles to enable individuals to explore particular areas of knowledge they wish to know more about.
  • Insight guides provided to enable managers with a framework for dealing with various day-to-day work issues.
  • Nudges, which are limited to one page of interactive e-Learning objects to provide just-in-time support for a manager dealing with an immediate problem.
  • Storylines, which are episodes in a story around work and home themes.
  • Knowhows, which are short interactive tutorials to help managers put skills into practice.

Learners appreciate the consistency and enables them to choose the style of learning they need at the time.

It would be a mistake to think of the Justice Academy as a course based relatively static intervention, it is actually an actively managed business-focused resource.  Both content and the style of what is going on changes in relation to current business pressures.  An example of the constantly changing nature of the learning web site is an approach to learning entitled “Rough Justice”.  This e-Learning is a storyline on the personal challenges a fictional employee encounters in their work and personal life.  The plot supports the business aims of the Ministry but is a human interest story in its own right; which is what draws learners to it.

The Academy has made a difference to the business. Senior stakeholders are increasingly involved with its activity and in seeking to use learning to support their current business issues.

Learners like it with typicaly 250 users a day, new courses are readily picked up and have proved to be the best means of  delivering compliance and updating on legislative changes.

MOJ suggests some tips for success:

  1. Get the strategy right and get it endorsed at the highest possible level
  2. Introduce learning in direct support of key business imperatives.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try open source technologies (ensures value for money and competitiveness with suppliers).
  4. Check that what you are going to use is scalable up to the size of the organisation.
  5. Innovate in delivering for speed, lower costs and enhanced flexibility.
  6. Deliver pilots in weeks not months
  7. Engage and enthuse the whole training team as part of an overall blended learning strategy.
  8. Senior stakeholders value compliance and regulatory training so deploy it early on and then build on it with a broader programme.
  9. Any strategic on-line learning site must constantly evolve and keep supporting current business initiatives and match the quality of external sites that users regularly visit outside work.
  10. Implement a strong brand that reaches across the whole enterprise.
  11. Use styles of learning objects that learners can relate to and recognise not only visually on the screen but how they match their learning needs and styles at the time.
  12. Continually respond to current business themes as they emerge, be ahead of the game.

For more detail on this strategic development of a blended learning strategy please download the employer story here.

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