I was asked by G to think back over some projects I have worked on today about getting organisations ready with elearning (not my own organisation). Distilling those two years into 40 minutes was quite useful for me too. So I asked G for a copy of the notes and scribbles I’d done through our conversation and have turned them into a blog post here. Some points may not be very deep, but I intend them to be a practical framework.
Starting Point – Standing Still: Assume an organisation with no engagement with elearning, and what training capacity exists is in a face-to-face presentation pattern. The organisation is spread around a state, with many regional and rural staff and volunteers, and turnover is such that repeated induction sessions are needed on an ongoing basis. Senior Management are interested in the possibilities of elearning, but at this stage it is unknown of their level of awareness of the possibilities.
As I see it, the critical first stage is “Gaining Acceptance that elearning is OK” and creating the sense that “This is possible”.
The key personnel need to be introduced to, and experience:
- What is this thing called elearning?
- What’s in it for me. To illustrate this point I made up a very possible scenario – The trainer, who is a volunteer themselves, gets up early on a frosty Saturday morning to travel 2.5 hours over to a site where some new volunteers have come on board. Three of the five people expected turn up to sit in a cold community hall. The trainer is bored because it’s the fifth time since summer that he’s run this session and it all feels a bit dry. At the end of the session, the trainer faces the drive home wondering whether he made the session interesting enough to entice the volunteers to stick around.
- What’s possible and what’s exciting in elearning.
Now we’re Walking: Then, with some interest developing, the next stage is to introduce them to rapid development tools. In this case, having heard a little more about the context of the organisation, I suggested ARED as the first tool to introduce. Depending on the cohort’s skills and enthusiasm, next I’d add eXe, Audacity, MovieMaker and basic picture editing through MS Office Picture Manager. These tools add the layer of variety to a text-based resource.
As people are learning the tools we’d use the actual content (induction program) as our basis for practice. So ideally we’d have drafts or finished product that can actually be used. Thus making the process seem quicker, easier and giving tangible outcomes.
To avoid the dreaded “Computer Assisted Page Turning” model of elearning, we’d need to touch on the following topics as well. Sort of a “Learning 101″ program:
- How do Adults Learn?
- Building Engagement (Multimedia, visuals, links to the real world)
- Determining (Assessing) Learning Retention (self tests, applying, games, assessment)
- Chunking and Sequencing Information
- The Curse of TMI – Too Much Information (Avoiding just-in-case, choosing ‘what needs to be known now’)
Engagement is probably the most critical one. If we can provide an engaging induction training/ learning session at the start of the workers and volunteers time with the organisation, we’ve a much better chance of improving retention of them in the organisation. Some concepts within the area of engagement:
- Multimedia for non-text based learning styles
- Self tests and application of learning in the real world
- Using Story and Authentic Voice
- Relevance of Images to the topics around them
- Serious Fun
Through the life of the project Phase 1 we’d use some webconferencing tools to start forming the group without needing to get everyone together f2f (budget cuts anyone?). This may also stretch their conception of elearning – it’s not just about the content on screen.
All this works towards … Phase 2: 2010 – We’re off and flying