The VLE shaped hole…

When I joined UHS, there was one clear thing I noticed very early on. Aside from the complete lack of consistency in the e-learning which was being produced – there was nowhere to host it all. As an organisation, UHS was just introducing a new education administration system (a national NHS system) – but e-learning had been left aside.

Current packages were placed as a text link into a web page, hidden somewhere among all of the other education content, it was difficult to find the correct content. If you were lucky enough to find the content, you then had to launch a web version (HTML/Flash stand alone package) which you needed to complete in one go, then print a certificate, which then had to be sent on a manual recording process to get the training completion registered.

Having come from HCC, where the project they were about to embark on was to replace their LMS, at least they had an LMS to replace! At HCC, the LMS only undertook basic functionality, it bookmarked progress, as well as taking an update for course status (to mark complete/incomplete). It was basic, but it was functional. To now find an area where there was nothing at all was a bit of a shock to the system.

It wasn’t possible to fix this instantly, as there were wider impacts on the educational service and the reporting processes, but at least we were able to make packages easier to find. At HCC we’d held a single page which contained all e-learning courses (it was getting quite long when I left – so I don’t know how Toby chose to progress it!) – but at least it put everything in one place. UHS weren’t quite there yet, and nowhere near having any LMS functionality – but it was a small step.

Over the course of the next few years, we worked to build consistency throughout the e-learning, and made it easier to find – all the time knowing there was a need for something more, something which would simplify the process. After a few years, and with help of other key figures throughout education, we now had an outline of what we wanted.

The NHS has learning management system functionality available at no cost to NHS Trusts (as an expansion of the Staff Record) so the plan was to adopt this. However, we needed something to improve the access to all other educational content, and to make it easier to locate the content (the LMS functionality isn’t the easiest to navigate) – so the choice was easy, we wanted a VLE to provide a portal through to other e-learning content, and also to hold the rest of our education information. Now we just needed a company to work with us to build it…..