This was meant to be some reflective notes from the conference, but it’s ended up being a mix between a commentary and a selection of notes……with an underlying thought!

Firstly – it was really interesting hearing from Chris Munsch about the different ways in which technology had been used to improve clinical simulation throughout training. He highlighted the way in which times had changed and our learners expected the usage of technology, however we’ve not necessarily adapted to that need. It was also interesting to hear Chris talking about the NHS TEL Hub which is currently under development. The TEL Hub aims to be a single area where NHS staff can go to find TEL resources:

It was also quite apt to hear Chris talk about the largest challenge the NHS faces is allowing staff to access the technologies. Despite the fact that there is a national whitelist of websites, this hasn’t necessarily been implemented by all NHS Trusts, and more importantly, resources such as YouTube aren’t on the whitelist:

Moving on from here, the conference then split to two strands. Having viewed the delegate list two days earlier, I was sure that, judging by the job titles of the attendees, the majority of the attendees would be there to see the clinical skills presentations, rather than the e-learning ones, however this concept was soon disproved as the e-learning strand room quickly filled, and the being over-filled required people to stand at the back to hear the first session.

Listening to Helen and Heather talk about the way in which they have introduced mobile learning to their mobile workforce was very interesting, however the one thing which really hit home was their low tech idea. SCAS decided to print some CIPD information onto paper, then tape it around a chocolate bar which was then given to staff. So during their break, the staff member can sit down, enjoy a chocolate bar, and gain some CIPD at the same time. Whilst the concept is very non-technical, it underlined what would soon become a key theme for the day, and that was about keeping education simple.

Aside from this, there was one other key point which came through from listening to SCAS, and this was the way in which humour has helped their learners to enjoy the learning, and they have found that this led to increased retention of knowledge:

After a quick break, it was back into the e-learning strand room to see a few more presentations. Next up was a presentation about the production of a e-Induction for doctors in a mental health Trust. It was really interesting to hear about the way in which the package was planned and delivered, and more the time scales taken to deliver a project of this size. What really underpinned the presentation was just how scenario driven the induction is. By using the stories, and the scene-setting, it allows the induction to develop the characters and enhance the experience for the doctors who are undertaking the package. I’ve been an advocate for the use of scenarios within e-learning for some time, but this was really nice to see so many different stories tied into a larger scenario which effectively placed the doctor in the middle of the learning experience.

After covering this, we moved on to everyone’s favourite subject of statuatory and mandatory training. Helen Bingham was talking about the new e-assessments which have been developed to allow the staff to prove their competence without needing to undertake a repetitive package every single year. Whilst demonstrating this, Helen hit on a really important point, and one which anyone involved in the development of e-learning encounters on a regular basis, and that is opposition to e-learning based on previous poor experiences:

Straight after this was my own session about the Thames Valley and Wessex e-learning Club – I’ll talk about that in another blog post shortly, so not much else to say about it now. After another break for lunch, we were back to hear about a couple of mobile apps which have been developed by Els Freshwater and Matt Taylor. The first of these apps is used by paramedics to decide which hospital to take trauma patients to. The second app allows Doctors to input details of the patient they are treating and the app indicates which pre-operative tests should be completed. In both of these cases, the app itself has a very simple interface, and actually just bases itself on an equation which underpins it, but again, this simplicity has allowed massive savings. Yet again, it was another example of simplicity in learning having a really powerful effect.

Moving on from here, it was Richard Price’s presentation about how serious gaming didn’t need to be seriously expensive. Richard talked about a project he had previously worked on where him and his team developed a game to help ambulance staff understand more about how their actions were perceived by the public. Richard talked about how they had developed the concept, then build it up within his team. The underlying concept was to reward learners using trophy achievements, and using the story and characters to build the scenario.

Richard went on to explain the way in which the whole game was developed for a budget of less than £500, and this was achieved by using resources which were readily available. Using staff who would volunteer as actors, as well as cleverly using camera angles to allow make simple on-site locations, such as a training room and some grass look like a set for the woman’s home and garden. But by begging, borrowing, and just using what was right under their noses, Richard and his team were able to develop something really engaging, but more than that – the whole concept was simple. The final presentation I saw for the day was the join effort between Alison Potter and Richard Price about their Tin Can API project. Alison and Richard talked about the way in which cloud technologies can be used to allow learners to access content from different suppliers/authors within the environment they are used to using, whilst still allowing reporting and updating at the higher level.

Having explained about the cloud technology base, Alison and Richard went on to talk about the way in which they are planning to use Tin Can as part of their #NHSTinCan and #LearningCan project. What was really nice to see, and it was quickly picked up by the audience, who then asked questions about it, was the way in which the project can be used to draw links between learning and outcomes – no matter what the source of the learning. This alone is enough of a reason to be interested in the project – after all, if we can effectively identify the learning interventions which have the best effect on the outcomes, we can focus on them, and replace the ineffective ones.

All in all – it was a really good day. Really good to see such good practice from so many people in the local area – however the thing that really struck me was the way in which so many of the learning interventions were plain and simple.

There is no need for us to over-do it – keep learning simple!!

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