We want eLearning – now what? Part 4 – Expertise and skills

This is the fourth of a six part series on how to implement eLearning.

Once you know what you want to implement, the success of the eLearning will depend on having people with the appropriate knowledge and skills

In February 2011, the Flexible Learning Advisory Group published the report – Enabling workforce development – insights from industries using e-learning.  Their research indicated that in-house expertise in eLearning improves the chances of embedding eLearning in workforce development.

What knowledge and skills are needed?

In 2001, the Australian Institute of Training and Development published a special report on eLearning. Although this is an old report, much of the information provided is still correct. The technology since 2001 has changed but the challenges of implementing eLearning are the same.

Part of this report identified the skills needed to implement eLearning. I would like to highlight what I consider to be the most important.

To select and implement the system you need the capacity to – complete a business analysis  to work out the requirements; write and evaluate tenders and contracts; understand some of the technical aspects and manage projects.

To create the eLearning, you need expertise in – instructional design, writing for online, using the eLearning applications, graphic design and, if needed, online communication tools.

All the skills are required but the extent to which you need them will depend on the size and complexity of your organisation and the eLearning strategy. It is very rare that all the skills are held by one person. If you do not have all the expertise in-house, how will you fill the gaps – train staff, hire staff or out-source?

Different organisations approach the provision of expertise and skills in different ways. The Australian Flexible Learning Framework published a document called Practices that sustain eLearningtraining solutions.  In it, they identify four models to support eLearning expertise in an organisation:

  1. Central unit that provides a one-stop-shop for expertise throughout the organisation
  2. Central unit that works with internal champions in units of the organisation. Similar to having users scattered throughout the organisation but with a super user in the central unit for more complex projects, and support.
  3. Decentralised model where each organisational unit manages their eLearning. This can be difficult for quality control but if the amount eLearning is extensive, it could be the preferred model.
  4. Internal and external model, with internal eLearning champions and some eLearning technology, but most of the expertise is provided by external agent.

Regardless of which model you follow, you will need some in-house expertise in eLearning and you will need to build staff capability. The strategy and cost for this becomes part of the business case, along with the cost of the technology.

The next topic in this blog series, therefore, is about the business case and value for money – We want eLearning – now what? Part 5

– Bronte

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