Does e-learning deserve its poor reputation? 3 solutions

I was 50 last year. Turning 50 made me pause and consider how I am using my time, and what I want to change – a huge ‘working and not working’ about work and life. Being part of a small team is definitely on the ‘working’ list , and I don’t want it to get bigger, but this creates a tension too. How can a handful of people be part of contributing to big changes? However good our training is, if we carry offering training in the same way, I am not sure how we can influence change at scale. I keep asking myself how our team can support people to do great work and make a difference.

The context of training has changed as well. The financial situation means that training budgets keep shrinking, at the same time that colleagues are expected to implement The Care Act, the SEND reforms in education, and introduce care and support planning too. I know that taking staff away from the workplace for two days to learn new skills is harder to do, particularly when you also have to pay for the venue, pay travel and sometimes back pay as well. Even when staff can attend an excellent course, how can managers be sure that it results in changes to practice?

So eight months ago, as I passed 50, I started to look at these two questions:

  1. How can people gain new skills and knowledge without leaving the workplace?
  2. How can people get ongoing support to implement what they have learned?

I looked at different approaches both inside and outside of our sector. How does anyone, with a new way of thinking or working, enable this to spread? For example how does Franklin-Covey help people to use ‘The 7 habits of highly successful people?’ What can we learn from Lynda.com, Udemy, Ted.com, and innovative approaches like the School for Health and Care Radicals?

What could we do differently that could be useful to managers working in providers, hospitals, housing, hospices, care homes or schools?

Does e-learning deserve its poor reputation?

For many people the obvious answer to learning without leaving the workplace is e-learning, but this has a poor reputation in our sector. Typically, an e-learning course takes 30 minutes to complete. You click through the sections, do the multi-choice questions, and print out a certificate at the end. You hand the certificate to your manager, who ticks a box on her file to say that you have done it, and no-body speaks of it again.

Three years ago I was working with our colleagues in Dimensions. Because of their commitment to working in a person-centred way, they wanted all of their staff to be able to use person-centred thinking in their day-to-day work. At nearly 5000 staff that would have been a lot of courses! Many organisations approach this by training their own trainers, but that still leaves the challenge of releasing people from their work and paying for venues, as well as the cost of the trainer’s time. We had to find another way, but traditional e-learning did not seem like the answer either. Together we spent a year developed an e-learning experience that is as close to you can get to going on our two-day person-centred thinking course. Udemy, Linda.com and Ted are powerful because they use video to enable people to learn, and we embedded video and animates within the e-learning to bring it to life. We were delighted that it was a finalist in the industry e-learning awards. Now that we have e-learning that can be used when staff have time, wherever they are and on a device of their choice and we wanted them to see e-learning as both a course and a resource. Rather than ticking the e-learning box, we are supporting people to see this a resource you can go back to. For example, if you wanted your team to implement learning logs, you could ask everyone to look again at the 10 minute section on how to use learning logs before you asked everyone to start using them. Here are 8 ways that managers could use e-learning as a resource in how they support their team in team meetings.

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Here are three ways to ensure e-learning makes a positive difference

1) A reference booklet to keep with you

If you have been on an excellent course, or completed great e-learning, remembering the nuances of how to put this into practice is hard without notes. I am a compulsive note-taker myself, and when I am trying something new, having tips and notes is important. I am learning ceramics, and how to work with porcelain. I go to a weekly class, but always need my notes, for example, to double check the sequence for finishing the pot. Being able to go back to a module in the e-learning is very helpful, and sometimes you will be away from your computer and quickly need to check something. If you are driving to someone’s house to support them to prepare for a person-centred review, having notes in a booklet is a great way to refresh your learning or check a point.

2) An on-line help-desk, and community to answer questions and support you.

Who can you ask when you get stuck? After my ceramics class I got stuck trying to figure out which decorative wire would not melt in the kiln. I could have spent time googling this, or searching in books, but really, I just wanted to be able to my tutor. We have a groupsite – an on-line community, that is free to anyone who has trained with us or done the e-learning. Michelle calls this our ‘lifetime guarantee of support’. There are several ways that you can get support:

  • post your question to the ‘help-desk’ and someone will get back to you within 24 hours Monday to Friday.
  • post your question in one of the subgroups, and ask the community for their thoughts and ideas
  • join the monthly live group coaching session

We are close to 1000 members and want this to be the place where people get support to put person-centred change into practice.

3) An easy way to ensure implementation through team meetings – Team15

Team meetings can be much more than a time to share information and make decisions. If you can find 15 minutes in a team meeting, you can use it to actively support colleagues to implement person-centred thinking tools. We wanted to make this as easy as possible for managers, and inspired by Franklin-Covey, we developed Team15. We have a resource for eight of the person-centred thinking tools, and each one has an agenda, a film that you can show the team, or a script to read, and an exercise that you can do together to dig deeper into this tool. Think ‘Hello Fresh’ for person-centred thinking tools. One of my New Year resolutions is to have a year without meat. We signed up for Hello Fresh, and every Tuesday, a box is delivered with the ingredients and step-by-step instructions to make three meals. Everything delivered and easy instructions – that is the principle behind Team 15. Team 15 is for any managers – in health, social care or education, and not just front line staff. We tested and refined this approach with our colleagues at Community Integrated Care.

On 8th March we launch a new website to share Team 15 and a range of e-learning packages. Turning 50 made me realise that to be part of creating bigger change, we need different, affordable, flexible ways to help people learn and change, and not just rely on face-to-face training or events. We have to optimise efficiency and flexibility, and find ways for people to stay connected, and get on-going to support to put what they have learned into practice.

If you’d like to register your interest in our new e-learning site and receive a limited time offer for our launch, please email adam@helensandersonassociates.co.uk

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