Get connected to e-learning - for social care providers
Staff training and development
e-Learning is so much more practical, flexible and instant. We need to react quickly when training needs come up. We can't have eight staff at a time doing face-to-face training whenever they need updating.Joy at Smartcare Epsom
Start with your training needs
e-Learning, just like every type of learning, needs to start with an understanding of what training you need. This is often called a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). Think of this like building a bridge; you need to know where your staff skills are now, and where they need to be. The training is the bridge between the two.
Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
- Skills – Third Sector provides TNA guidance aimed at not-for-profit organisations: www.skills-thirdsector.org.uk/training_needs_ analysis
- BusinessLink provides TNA guidance aimed at small businesses: www.businesslink.gov.uk (go to the ‘Employment and skills’ section and then the ‘Skills and training’ section)
Once you have done your TNA ask yourself: Which training needs are suited to e-learning?
Matching learning needs to learning methods
e-Learning is good for underpinning knowledge and assessing factual understanding, but less suited to teaching practical skills. However, by using blended learning (mixing e-learning with other types of learning) you can get the best of both worlds.
For example, you might use video or e-learning to explain the theory behind moving and positioning training, which has the advantages of showing principles and techniques clearly. Then combine that with practical group sessions and one-to-one supervision and assessment until the learner is safe to work alone.
Matching learners to learning methods
e-Learning may be particularly suited to some people. Others may find it more difficult, for example if their IT skills or their English language skills limit their learning. You will enjoy greater success if you match the learner to the learning method. Find out what learning approaches staff prefer.
You don’t need a lot of people on the same course so e-learning can be responsive to a particular training need. This might be because:
- a worker is weak in a certain area
- a role requires a higher level of knowledge of a particular condition or technique
- a member of staff has a particular specialist interest.
Keeping track of results
No system does all the overall tracking work for you, but many commercial e-learning modules come within a Learning Management System (LMS). This makes it much easier to keep track of which learners have logged in, who has started which units, who has completed them, and their scores from any online tests integrated into the learning.
Some LMSs also allow you to enter the details of in-house training, external courses, and mentoring. In addition, some can incorporate e-learning modules from other external sources, such as the free SCIE e-learning modules. These can be added into the commercial e-learning to track that as well.
You could plan for some staff to access e-learning at home, where they may feel that they can go at a slower pace to suit them; and maybe allocate a dyslexic worker online video e-learning, rather than learning that requires a lot of reading.
If you have a number of staff with communication, language or number skills issues you may find the free SCIE resource, Care Skillsbase useful. It contains a numbers of skills checks, as well as some practical guidance for managers on managing basic skills issues.
Some useful sources of videos about social care:
- Social Care TV - This free online service from SCIE offers access to video-based training resources and general interest programmes on current social care practice.
- MyHomeLife - A not-for-profit initiative that aims to celebrate existing best practice in care homes and promote care homes as a positive option for older people. The website offers a number of free training resources, including videos. Visit the website, then select My Home Life DVD site
There are some non-commercial LMSs. These can be cost-effective for managers who want to get engaged with the process of managing e-learning. You would have to feel confident in setting them up yourself without any technical support other than online forums.
Keeping those you care for in focus
Any training is only being effective if it is having a positive impact on the care we deliver. Completion rates, percentages and pass marks can sometimes distract us from the simple question: ‘Does this improve our care?’ Reviewing how effective e-learning has been will help you plan for the future and, over time, develop a training strategy that minimises gaps and overlaps.
One of the best known of the free learning management systems is Moodle. This is very popular in many schools and colleges, where there are large numbers of learners and courses. If you have close ties with any of your local colleges you could ask their advice about LMSs.
There are also other alternatives to Moodle. Refer to the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies to find out more.
In addition, some local authorities may have a free-to-access LMS which you can take a share of, rather than having to manage your own.
Carers getting to grips with new technology
Six weeks ago, Mike Hawkins thought a mouse was a small furry animal, but that was before he joined Alzheimer’s Support’s Computer Club.
Mike is one of ten carers halfway through a computer course to help them get to grips with modern technology including email, word processing and surfing the world wide web.
“It will be so useful. I have a son in South Africa so I am looking forward to being able to converse with him, as well as all the others things you can do online.”
Chris Auckland, who is delivering the training said: “Trying to get to grips with the Internet when you have never used a mouse before is really difficult and can be frustrating but they are all so patient and keen to learn.”