Monday, February 11, 2013

No elearning, thank you very much!

Our organisation has been asked to review and feedback on the new guidance for one particular area in which we are involved. I was particularly struck by the vehemence of its position with regards to elearning:
[1] The use of e-learning may offer a number of benefits to an organisation. However, in all but the smallest healthcare organisations such a small GP’s practice with a single stage [activity] plan, e-learning is not acceptable as the sole means of training staff. E-learning can only be used to support training delivered by a competent [specialist] safety adviser.
[2] E-learning is not acceptable as the sole means of training for the following reasons:

  • it does not take account of significant findings from [specific] risk assessments;
  • it does not take account of changes in working practice;
  • it cannot adequately train staff in [a physical process], particularly those involving patient [safety];
  • it is unlikely to provide for job-specific training;
  • there is little opportunity for direct feedback to trainee questions;
[3] In exceptional circumstances where a member of staff cannot be made available for training delivered by the [specialist] safety adviser (due, for example, to long-term sickness), the use of e-learning may be considered as a temporary alternative. However, no member of staff should be permitted to continue their duties with a gap in their record of training conducted by the [specialist] safety adviser longer than twice the training interval identified in the training needs analysis.
[4] Any training delivered by e-learning should be completed within one month of the session commencing. Any session not completed within the month should result in the e-learning programme being recommenced
The most astonishing part of this is the list of reasons for which elearning is a prohibited solution. It points to me that there are some underlying assumptions here, most probably that the catch-all term "elearning" in this case means "generic SCORM courseware". 

Curiously it says nothing about the outcomes from elearning - though for that matter, neither does it for the face-to-face sessions - but the key metric, it would seem, is completion. And we know how reliable that is.

On the other hand, I can't argue with its requirement that some physical activity can only be taught in ILT sessions, so it is arguing for a blended solution, which makes sense. It's refreshing to see that the person specification (not shown) for one of the key roles includes the Certificate in Training Practice too, recognising the key role training plays in this area of preventative action. It's just a shame that the authors' bad experience of elearning leads to such a harsh and inaccurate critique of one mode of training.


Mike said...

It seems like the "no e-learning" commenter's position ignores the ocean of research demonstrating tech-based training's greater efficacy, efficiency, etc., as well as the easily observed effects in the world. Has he considered that every pilot on every flight he's ever boarded learned on a simulator?

Dan said...

It's bonkers Mike, complete nonsense. It's doubly irritating as the very worst training course I, or any of my colleagues, could ever recall attending was, of course, a fire safety course of the type that this document mandates...

Unknown said...

Dan great blog, I've just stumbled on it from weelearning tweet and skimmed this latest post.

I work for a software provider in Bristol. As a trainer, I've gone from "go find out about elearning," to "propose the business a solution", to "build content and sell it so we know it works". Then following acquistion - no more eLearning, we don't do it!

Now after failing miserably to deliver classroom training to a global user base with 3 active trainers and high staff turnover, the latest, 2013 news is - we need eLearning.

My point is, businesses don't know what they want and they think they do when they talk to vendors of eLearning solutions. Learning and Training Developers like ourselves have taught, we know delegates won't stand hrs and hrs of online content. Equally they can sit in front of a web training session for more than an hour at a time. Its all the same, classroom training has a break every 1-2 hours not because we like biscuits but because we need to flush the brain, make some space and refocus. Same goes whatever the medium. My fear is the wrong people make the wrong decisions about learning.

jacquie said...

It makes two major assumptions :
1. That a competent(specialist) safety advisor is also a competent trainer. Subject knowledge alone doesnot enable a trainer to train effectively.
2. That all face to face training meets the bullet points he outlines in Para 2. We all know this is absolutely not the case. Too many inadequate training sessions depend on a listing and presenting knowledge model instead of testing trainee ability to do and understand.

e learning is a perfect platform for health and safety training that tests the trainee. It can also store employee responses for ongoing TNA and auditing purposes.