Taking delivery is just the first step

VLE ScreenshotSo…..Epic delivered our VLE to us (essentially our solution is vanilla – with a hint of something else). The something else in this was a customised template and user account request form. The template was designed to replicate our branding (our internal Comms team spent a lot of time working with our service users to redefine ‘Training and development’ on our behalf about 12 months ago) and we were keen to keep the VLE consistent with the brand. It might seem like little things, but the curved purple banner has become our identity (combined with a base swish on our printed materials) – but this simplicity was key to our requirements.

Anyway – I’d signed off the system, and now was the time to start working out how it was all going to work. In the previous post I talked about our needs from the system. The strange thing is, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but when you actually get the system, you suddenly realise that there’s more to it than you originally thought.

For UHS, the brief was simple, the VLE was to provide a single point of reference for Education. We needed a single location where we could store all of the information about our (face-to-face) courses, as well as somewhere that our e-learning courses could be listed to link to the NLMS to be tracked. Anything else we could gain would be an added bonus. The issue we had was that we knew that our staff would need to log into the NLMS or OLM to access an e-learning course or book on a classroom course, so we didn’t want our staff to need to log in to access this information. We also want non-staff (staff from other NHS Trusts) to be able to see the information about our courses (so they could decide if they wanted to attend them). All of this meant that we would need to deploy a level of Guest Access within the Moodle. How did this work in practice? Well here’s how we had to set it up:

  • Guest access throughout the site was enabled to ensure that anyone who visited the site was automatically assigned with Guest access, rather than needing to click to log in as a Guest (we want our course pages to operate just like a website where people can instantly and easily access our course information).
  • Guests needed to be given access to view ‘Pages’. As a lot of our course information is contained within pages, we want Guests to be able to view this information easily – and move from one course to another without needing to enroll on each one just to read a course outline.
  • Guest access needs to be enabled on the courses (reasons match the previous point) – but allowing this ensured that visitors to the site could move freely through the site – however access to other resources was limited (so Guests cannot access course materials or forums)

This set up now allows any “Guests” to get access to course information (to see aims/objectives, course dates etc) and this also allows our staff access to the links to book/access courses – all without needing to log into the VLE. Then for the additional information, our own staff are then able to log in and review course documentation (slides, handouts, etc.) as well as partake in course activities (such as forums, chats etc.)

The final thing we worked on at this stage was to establish “cohorts” within the VLE which would match our Stat & Mand categories (within UHS our Stat & Mand training requirements are matched to a matrix, which is linked to a job professional group (such as Doctors, Nurses etc.) and each group may have different versions of the same subject). Establishing these cohorts would allow us to auto enrol staff on specific courses based on their professional group. One of the biggest issues we frequently have is that staff are unsure which of the available options for a specific training topic they should undertake. Using this option would mean that a user could log into the VLE, and by looking under “My Courses” they would find the links and information to the chosen course within the chosen subject which was applicable to them (so they no longer complete the wrong package as they couldn’t work out which one to choose).