Tips for establishing a local champion network from the National Autistic society

by | May 25, 2011 | Case Studies

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is the UK’s leading charity for people affected by autism. Today the NAS has over 19,000 members and 100 local branches – each providing a wide range of advice, information, support and specialist services to around 100,000 people. As a consequence of the range of services and support they offer, their 3,000 strong workforce is extremely diverse and has a wide geographic spread

Like many other organisations the NAS found themselves in a situation where they had to reduce overhead costs in order to be more competitive and thus secure business.  Budget that was previously used for learning and development (and associated costs such as travel and accommodation) need to be directed elsewhere in the organisation.

It made sense to consider how learning technologies could help increase the flexibility of learning across geographies, increase the offering of learning and reduce cost. So the NAS engaged with other like-minded charities to share resources through the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC)

Hoever, eighteen months into the project, the NAS realised that just making e-learning available was not going to drive usage.  Registrations were not increasing so time to take a new approach!!  The NAS established a network of local champions to stimulate interest  and actively promote e-learning within their teams.

Since adopting this approach, uptake has improved and the NAS have now made some of their e-learning courses part of mandatory training.  Champions can give e-learning the ‘human touch’ here are some really useful Dos and Don’ts that the NAS learned along the way.

Download the case study below for more information about how they went about engaging local champions and lessons learned along the way.

Here are some tips from NAS:

  • Don’t underestimate how long it takes to embed e-learning. It’s not something that happens overnight but local support can accelerate uptake.
  • Do engage potential champions in a fun and meaningful way to build enthusiasm and commitment.
  • Don’t assume that when you make e-learning resources available that people will know about them, know how to use them and then use them.  Help your champions to create awareness of the material and make sure that people have the skill sets to be able to use them.
  • Do make sure your champions can provide admin support & know how to answer simple questions like how do I reset my password and also know how to upload information, freeing up time for project leaders to focus on higher level deliverables that will give you impact
  • Do allow your champions to have time to play; it gives confidence when setting up a new system.
  • Don’t keep all your knowledge about what you are doing to yourself, or only have one dedicated person who manages your portal….what happens when that person leaves or you need somebody else to do something when you can’t? Regular sharing makes all the difference.
  • Do refer to your champions as that (or facilitators) rather than by acronyms. The NAS has decided to drop the term ELF  – an acronym means nothing to anybody else and even fun ones like ELF can take the focus away from the real issue if you’re not careful, and possibly even dumb down the role.
  • Don’t make e-learning a fix for everything….use it when it really is the best option and blend as appropriate.

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