Five years…what’s changed?

Like I said in my last post, many of my blog rambles start from a simple concept. This particular one came on the 7th November 2013 (and it’s only taken me two months to get round to doing it) with an idea from Alistair Cockroft (@acockroft):

So here goes….Five years ago, I’d just completed my second year working for Hampshire County Council. More importantly, I’d just won the e-learning age ‘E-learning Industry Award for Outstanding Achievement – Individual‘. Things were very different back then, and here’s how:

Five years ago – what was I doing:

I was developing e-learning packages for a County Council of approximately 37,500 employees over a massive geographical location. At this stage, I thought I was perfect and that my development style was engaging and innovative. I used to collect feedback about my e-learning packages, most people used to say they were good, and those who didn’t – well:

  1. I didn’t think they knew what they were talking about, or
  2. clearly e-learning doesn’t meet their learning style, so I’d never please everyone

The packages I was developing at the time were generally core compliance training, and I was developing them using Lectora (they wrote a case study on me, and thanks to the internet, you can see it here). Even looking back at the case study actually makes me cringe a bit. The packages were good for the workforce, as they allowed the workforce to access their compliance training from their own location, however they were not engaging, aside from a few flash interactions I developed, they weren’t exciting, in fact, they were nothing more than glorified PowerPoints, which due to an AICC output, were trackable.

Don’t get me wrong, my award win (still) means a lot to me – and I still look back fondly on the achievements I made in the role. It was great to develop a concept of online learning within such a large organisation. It was the first time most of these employees had accessed any training on a PC and it allowed them to do so at their own convenience. This was a massive step forward for the organisation, and helped to drive up compliance, and also for the first time ensured that the message was consistently delivered to all employees – just looking back at the quality of content – I’m actually more proud of how I’ve developed and changed.

Five years later, what’s different?

Some things haven’t changed. There’s still a strive to deliver compliance training within the organisation, and e-learning is still seen as one of the best ways to deliver this. For this reason, we still deliver a great deal of our training in this formal way. Now however, the aim has been on allowing the employee to control their own experience. Rather than being forced down a set path from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, the employee can now choose their own path. If they want to review ‘C’, then ‘P’, then ‘Z’, then ‘A’ – then that’s completely acceptable. There is no need to force their route on them, let them choose the parts which matter to them. In addition to this, if the employee already knows the content, then why force them to go through it all over again, why not just provide them an opportunity to prove their knowledge? So we do…..

The tools used now are very much the same as they were five years ago, in terms of creating a slide-driven output, only now, we look to offer ways of moving through those slides as outlined above. The tools also have the added advantage of being about to output in a responsive/multi-format version, allowing the courses to be accessed from a variety of devices, rather than being fixed to a fixed-width output which could only be accessed on a PC.

It’s also important to highlight the way in which organisational culture has changed. Five years ago, I worked in an organisation where when I was able to get 20,000 of our 37,500 employees to complete a course, this was seen as a major success, whereas now I work in an organisation where the 8,500 staff complete in excess of 45,000 e-learning courses a year. The scale has grown massively due to the pressures placed on the organisation as available time for “training” has reduced.

So….What next?

2014 will be the time when all of this really changes, we’re going to actively move away from the ‘click next’ mentality, move further from the forced study route, and more into the student-centred approach. However, I’ll blog about that separately in my next post to close the year!