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PLEASE NOTE: This wiki was created by Marlene Manto for a specific purpose. The site is NOT being maintained so please be aware that information and/or links may be out of date.


Strategic Planning for e-Learning

Get your organisation up and running with a strategically-planned approach to introducing and embedding e-learning.

INTRODUCTION

E-learning is not going to go away. According to the results of the national 2013 Benchmarking Survey, 95% of VET teachers and trainers said that they used one or more technologies in their training. While it seems that most teachers and trainers are embracing e-learning at some level, it is recommended that a more strategic approach be adopted by the organisation.

The following links, tools and templates are provided to assist decision-makers to make informed decisions, and are presented as a process. For the purposes of the workshop they have been organised with related resources and exercises, however this procedure may also be useful when conducting an 'in house' planning exercise.

STEP 1: BUILDING UNDERSTANDINGexternal image 3205277810_8283a3e4b5_m.jpg

Do you have a good understanding of the breadth of e-learning and how it applies across the VET sector, or is your experience based on what you've heard, from participating in an online university course, or having to complete a boring OH &S compliance activity.:-) The first step is to build a broader understanding.
  • Learn from those who have gone down the path before you

    • Exercise/Resource: Watch the video Tabor Adelaide and Online Learning. This is an organisation with a proven track-record of e-learning......make a list of their recommendations to consider and discuss.

    • Exercise/Resource: Use the Projects Archive to find past e-learning projects that relate to your own context...or learner group...or industry etc.

  • Become familiar with different 'models' of e-learning

    • Exercise/Resource: Many people don't realise that e-learning comes in multiple varieties! Download the document Types of E-learning, then consider the different types while asking yourself the question "What would be the best match for our learners...our clients....our students...?"

  • Know where to get support

    • The National VET E-learning Strategy can provide support - check to find your local E-learning Coordinator. Alternatively (or additionally), an E-learning Consultant can often provide advice and support....but check their background to ensure they aren't affiliated with a specific company and will therefore be simply selling their own branded solutions. Best to shop around. :-) Another suggestion is to become involved in e-learning networks such as E-learning Conversations - this is a group of experienced practitioners who will happily answer your questions...for free. :-)

STEP 2: MAKING THE INITIAL DECISIONSexternal image 2201907500_48b43541e8_m.jpg

Still lots to get your head around however your understanding will continue to grow as you make the first, informed decisions. Too many organisations put off these decisions but continue to say "we really must do something about getting started with e-learning". So the second step is to do something, and actually make those initial decisions.
  • Decide... which model/s of e-learning will fit best for your own context?

    • Exercise/Resource: Download the document Which Types are You? (worksheet from 'Types of E-learning' referred to above) then circle the model/s which you feel are the closest to a 'best fit' from the perspective of organisational and especially, your learner needs. This decision is probably best made in collaboration with your trainers.

  • Decide...will a 'quick-fix' do, or is your intent to build your organisations 'e-capability' for the longer term?

    • To implement e-learning, many training providers believe it's all about getting a learning management system (LMS) and 'buying in' ready-made e-learning 'courses'. This approach may fix a short-term training issue however it does nothing for developing organisational 'e-capability' and building a sustainable practice, and can often be more costly in the longer term. Your E-learning Coordinator or your E-learning Consultant will be able to help with this decision.

  • Decide...'off-the-shelf' content or build it yourself?

    • It often comes down to the question "How much control over the content do you want?" Getting an 'off-the-shelf' solution may seem attractive in the short-term but it doesn't build organisational e-capability and it can lock you into long-term contracts. That given, it can be useful for 'one-offs' or urgent training needs. The article Buy or Build offers an opinion, but talk to your E-learning Coordinator or E-learning Consultant if you would like to discuss the pros/cons of any decision.

    • Exercise/Resource: Make yourself aware and familiar with the learning content that has already been developed and is available for your use eg. Toolboxes and individual 'chunks' of learning content from the National VET Contentwebsite. (These can be readily altered to suit your own needs...Customising Learning Objects will help). The e-resource Creating Content may also provide ideas.

  • Decide...what are the most appropriate platforms and software?

    • Exercise/Resource: IF your decision on the best model of e-learning for your organisation is to use a Learning Management System (LMS), then your next decision is...which one? In South Australia, the most commonly used LMS is Moodle, and in fact this LMS topped the list of the 20 Most Popular LMS Solutions. What NOT to do is handball this as an 'IT decision' without seeking input from education staff - some tragic outcomes have happened this way. :-)

    • The website Top 100 tools for Learning provides a great list, recommended by VET leaders and professionals who have voted on what they use and prefer. (It's no coincidence that most are open-source....there is a definite swing away from proprietary...and often expensive...software options).

    • Exercise/Resource: The VET Teacher E-learning Toolkit and the List of Commonly Used VET E-learning Applications/Tools from National E-Standards for Training are very useful resources, particularly for organisations which are starting out and not sure about 'what others are using'. As they includes functionality, examples of use, known issues, and basic technical and network configuration requirements, pass them on to your IT manager.

  • Decide...how will you upskill your training staff to be able to teach online?

    • Don’t make the mistake of believing that your classroom trainers can move effortlessly from the classroom into the online environment… some can, but others may find it very challenging. There are online courses (such as Learning to Teach Online) which can provide the opportunity for professional development. Or it may be a good decision to contract an experienced e-facilitator for your pilot, with the understanding that he/she mentors existing staff.

STEP 3: GETTING UNDERWAYexternal image 2215340047_fd7ea5d938_m.jpg

Once you've made some initial decisions, don't deliberate too long...get started! That is the strongest advice from those who have already gone through this process as there is no benefit in procrastination. Providing you begin small, there is very little risk in getting started, yet enormous value in what you will learn from the experience.
  • Begin with a small pilot to 'test the waters'

    • Exercise/Resource: Choose a very small aspect of your training as a pilot. This could be as small as one competency... or an activity to replace part of existing classroom-based training.... or maybe a simple induction. It could be something that is easy...or maybe something that represents a 'pain point'...where you are experiencing problems and need to make changes anyway. Download the Viability Checklist to assist with this decision.

    • Exercise/Resource: The Learning Design Tool may assist your trainers with the process of choosing and developing a learning design for a learning resource which covers a unit of competence, or elements of a unit, in a Training Package. It has been designed for both experienced and non-experienced users

  • Evaluate this exercise, and learn from the outcomes

    • Exercise/Resource: Download the document E-learning Course Evaluation Form and use it as the basis for a learner evaluation form, adapting it to suit your own training context. The results of this will prove extremely valuable to plan the next phase - perhaps an extension of the first or with a different qualification or skill set.

    • If you need to convince others (eg stakeholders), the resource How To Write A Business Case for E-learning may assist you to plan your case.

    • Exercise/Resource: Download the document Questions to Discuss and use these a discussion-starters when you next meet with your team - it is an adaption of a template from Innovate and Integrate (Note that this is not a list of requirements, but merely topics for discussion and to raise awareness of what might need to be considered.)

STEP 4: MOVING FORWARD

You've learned a lot, and now you're well on your way to embedding e-learning as an integral part of your organisation. But don't stop now! The final step in this process is an ongoing one...to keep driving this process.




DISCLAIMER
This wiki is not attempting to provide business advice nor attempting to offer an individual 'recipe for success'. It is presented merely as a support and guide, and it is strongly recommended that organisations follow up for more individual assistance and direction.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Logo created with http://cooltext.com
'Planning board' photo: CC licensed Flickr photo by J'Roo
'Thinking' photo: CC licensed Flickr photo by @boetter
'Decisions' photo: CC licensed Flickr photo by the Italian voice
'Launching' photo: CC licensed Flickr photo by Storer Boat Plans