Ireland's Healthcare National eLearning Project

Published on: 15/02/2006
The National eLearning Project has been set up by the Health Services in Ireland to provide an online training facility for all Health Care staff, from Management, through Admin Support and Clinical disciplines. It makes a range of online eLearning support tools available in addition to 25 eLearning training Courses. These are outlined below. Competency Assessment Tool - The competency assessment tool is designed to assist employees in identifying their current strengths and areas for development. It can be used in self-assessment as well as enable a 360o feedback on performance. Personal Development Planning Work Book - The PDP workbook is designed as an ongoing tool to help employees manage their personal development by planning and setting goals for the year ahead. Knowledge Centre - The Knowledge Centre contains a wealth of resources on Leadership/Management Development, Organisational Development and Personal Development. eLearning Programmes - There are currently 25 eLearning programmes available on the Learning Centre. Employees can choose from a wide range of interactive eLearning programmes broken down into four key areas: - Clinical programme: staff can take in our online introductory course to Clinical Audit. - Basic IT and Computing Learning: programmes including training on Microsoft Office applications such as MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as other course titles designed to introduce users to basic computing skills. - Management Learning: programmes on some of the most popular areas of managerial development including: Coaching, Change Management, Service Planning and Clinical Audit. - Personal Development: programmes introducing employees to the process of Personal Development Planning and putting Personal Development Planning in practice. The National eLearning Project is trading up an online collaboration tool that invites learners to share their knowledge and experience with others as well as to request information from fellow learners. In the context of eLearning, the Learning Centre provides tailored online learning at a time and pace that suits the user. It promotes a culture of ?blended learning?, which combines face-to-face teaching and computer-based study.

Main results, benefits and impacts

The Learning Centre has had a huge impact on all those who have taken part in the project. This has clearly been reflected throughout the 6 month period right from the implementation of eLearning through to the analysis of the research that has been collected with the use of regional focus groups and online questionnaires. The approach to the project and the provision of relevant learning content for health service workers makes this project a good candidate for Good Practice Exchange. Key features of the campaign: The positive atmosphere created by this project is the direct result of a coordinated and structured marketing campaign that began many weeks prior to the launch and is still ongoing today. Project Team - A Partnership Approach: The introduction of a good Project Team for each region / organisation played a fundamental part in the eLearning implementation plan. In particular, representatives from IT and HR remained the key drivers behind the project. Current Human Resource / Corporate Strategy: - Alignment of eLearning to organisational objectives; - Training Needs Analysis; - Development of implementation plan; - Organisation of briefing sessions and Launch Events; - Marketing Strategies; - Ongoing support and motivational initiatives. Executive Briefing Sessions: All eLearning initiatives require the support of senior level executives. The decision by senior management to "sign off" an eLearning initiative is simply not sufficient for the long term success of eLearning. A key feature of this particular 'roll out' plan was the fact that each project team helped to design a range of briefing sessions to help management understand the importance of eLearning in helping to achieve key business objectives. These managerial briefing sessions were ongoing from top down to ensure that all levels of management were committed to the project prior to any formal launch. Training Needs Analysis (TNA): A Training Needs Analysis is an important part of this process and is designed to help gain a better understanding of individual and departmental training requirements. As part of the roll out plan, each region carried out a local Training Needs Analysis in an attempt to understand local training requirements and more importantly help the development of an online Learning Centre with the right course content to reflect those needs. For eLearning to work effectively, appropriate online course materials and programmes must reflect the overall needs of the organisation in relation to the HR strategy. The TNA also allowed each region to adopt a blended approach to learning and development. Marketing Campaign: The positioning of online learning within an organisation is essential to the long term success of the project. The aim of this project was to market eLearning as a legitimate form of training and development that complimented and integrated with the more traditional classroom based training events.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

We believe we have been successful in implementing a vital and stimulating online resource for health care staff. Our decision to avoid expensive technical implementations has turned out to be a good decision, allowing us to concentrate on our users, and not get diverted into concerns about technical issues to the detriment of users. We learned many valuable lessons, but we are aware that there is more for us to learn. We think or experience in Ireland can make a valuable contribution to others considering a sinmilar enteprise, but we are also anxious to learn from others. There are many learning points resulting from this project. In brief these include: Consultation. There can never be too much consultation on a project such as this. The reason for this is that it became clear to us early on that health care staff invest themselves heavily in what they do. It is routine to meet health care professionals who regularly go well beyond the call of duty in the care of their patients and clients. As such they justly demand that their investment is rewarded by being consulted in develolpments that are going to have an impact on their working lives. Sometimes this can be a daunting process, because one does not always hear what one wants. We found that things we had not thought of were presented to us, and this allowed us to be more responsive to users by responding to ideas before they became problems. Managers though they often expressed support, were not always in a position to folow through. This can pose a significant challenge. We knew we had to sell eLearning, and that we needed to treat managers and learners as "customers". While many people believe that placing content on the internet is the end of the process we have learned that in fact it is only the beginning. Learners need to be constantly encouraged to participate. The working day is already challenged in terms of tasks and responsibilities. As such we have to continue searching for new ways to keep people visiting the Learning Centre. Although we placed a lot of emphasis on engagement of learners and managers, we were disappointed that more learners did not complete our surveys. We believe that this is part of the develolpment process, where there is often a need to deal with the latest emergency, and where something like training can seem very low down on the list of priorities. eLearning must find its place among the competing demands of health service time. The critical challenge for us was in developing an environment that built on the requirement of Government and the EU to develop eGov service. Our focus has been internal, toward the people who provide the health service to citizens, but in doing so we think we have contributed to citizen health by empowering more health care personnel to life-long learning. But we have been challenged by the constant need to maintain impetus in the agencies and among learners to continue to make use of the Learning Centre.