Left to right, back row: Patty Maxwell (Queanbeyan), Marina Chadiloff (co-facilitator), Warne Boulton (Ocean Shores), Jean-Mary Botfield (Moree), Sonya Oyston (Wollongong), Ann Brady (facilitator), Todd Burns (Wollongong), Robyn Barco (Aberdare). Middle row: Gaille Barr (Sydney), Deon Dowdy (Binjura), Trish Malone (Canberra), Mark Healey (Raymond Terrace). Front row: Danielle Devine (Jindabyne). Missing: Su Bowing (Kiama Community College - RTO representative)
e-Skilling the SES is a blended learning program designed and developed in partnership between the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) and Kiama Community College (KCC), the Registered Training Organisation for this project. Our aim was to train 10 professional educators to design and develop e-learning in both synchronous and asynchronous environments and for each member of the group to design an individual professional development plan. The training was designed to meet the requirements of five units of competency from the Diploma of Training, Design and Development TAE50211.
The NSW SES has a long-standing partnership with Kiama Community College who deliver training in cultural diversity and other programs where the SES does not have the qualification on their scope of registration. The cultural diversity training is a blended learning program and was the SES’ first foray into e-learning.
The NSW SES deliver accredited training from the Public Safety Training Package across NSW. This project was developed to meet the needs of their geographically dispersed learners and trainers by providing an online learning solution.
The project team consisted of:
John Young, the Project Manager, and NSW State Emergency Service Learning and Development Consultant who sadly withdrew from the project at the mid-point and was replaced by Sonya Oyston, the SES Instructional Designer.
The RTO was represented by Su Bowing, trainer and assessor, and e-learning designer and facilitator from Kiama Community College. Su participated in the program, gaining recognition for some units and completing others. She also provided assistance to other learners in the face to face training components of the program.
The trainers were Ann Brady and Marina Chadiloff. Ann is an e-learning consultant who designed and developed the online resources and delivered training in e-learning design, development and facilitation. Ann has extensive experience in the field of e-learning. Marina Chadiloff, learning consultant, designed and delivered training in validation and managed the professional practice part of the program. Marina facilitates the Certificate IV in Training and assessment using a combination of webinars and asynchronous online tasks.
The learners, SES trainers and assessors, completed the team. 75% of the learners were volunteers from the SES while the remainder were staff.
The program was funded by the Higher Education Pathways Project, a part of the National VET E-learning Strategy.
The strategy connectionThis case study was developed by the NSW SES and Kiama Community College with funding and support from the national training system’s e-learning strategy, the National VET E-learning Strategy (Strategy).
The Strategy provides the VET system with the essential e-learning infrastructure and expertise needed to respond to the challenges of a modern economy and the training needs of Australian businesses and workers.
Both the SES and KCC have successfully undertaken a range of projects funded by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (now the Strategy). In 2009 the NSW SES in partnership with the Adult and Community Education Unit developed ‘Cultural Points of View – Working with Aboriginal communities’. The training was delivered for the NSW SES by a number of community colleges across NSW including Kiama Community College. In 2010 a second version of the program was produced for people with a disability, followed by a third version in 2011 for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Kiama Community College have completed numerous projects funded by the Strategy including Learnscope projects as far back as 2006.
What was doneThe project plan had four phases:
- planning and set up
- design and development
- evaluation and finalization
Planning and set upThe project team was established and the role of each team member was agreed upon. Expressions of interest to participate in the program were circulated and potential participants were required to demonstrate that their existing skills and knowledge were sufficient to successfully complete the program within the stated time frame. Those who met the criteria were invited to join the program.
Design and developmentA variation to add the Diploma of Training Design and Development to KCC’s scope of registration was submitted. This included the development of a learning and assessment strategy and two assessment tasks. The broad design and development of the online environment and learning materials began in this phase and the detailed content was added and/or adapted as we progressed through the program. The program was developed in the Community Colleges Australia Moodle learning management system.
Week 1: Getting Started - we began with a series of 'getting started' activities to familiarise the group with the potential and possiblities online learning has to offer and to enable learners to share and collaborate online. Those included:
- an introductory forum
- general information about the program, the qualification and assessment
- a declaration which asks learners to agree to abide by the code of conduct and plagiarism policies
- some research and discussion about e-learning strategies and activities
- an information page about preparing to participate in webinars.
Weeks 2-4: Webinars and professional practice – learners attended 3 webinars the first of which introduced the environment and provided training in various features and learning strategies. In the second webinar learners prepared a 5 minute session and practiced facilitating in Blackboard Collaborate. Finally learners researched one e-learning topic in pairs and prepared and facilitated a 20-30 minute webinar against which they were assessed. Click here to read their reflections. This task consolidated the initial online discussions about e-learning strategies and activities and provided an excellent opportunity for learners to gain in-depth knowledge in one area and to gain a broad knowledge of a range of e-learning theories and models, barriers to e-learning implementation and organisational issues.
During this period learners began to work on their professional practice plan by identifying and reflecting upon their current skills and knowledge
Weeks 5-8: Design and develop Moodle e-learning activities – in this stage learners critiqued an existing online induction program from another emergency services agency and posted their thoughts to a forum. This was followed by a weekend workshop where learners developed a storyboard and began the development of Moodle web pages and activities. These activities focused on the design and development of one topic per learner from the SES Induction Program. Learners were asked to use at least 2 delivery methods and to create at least 2 interactive activities. Templates were provided to enable a consistent look and feel in the Induction program.
All learners were familiar with the content and were able to concentrate on adapting the material to an online environment. The group completed their activities over the next 2 weeks and experimented with a range of software including Moodle, Captivate, ARED, Slideshare, Articulate.
Learners demonstrated understanding of a wide range of e-learning strategies and incorporated adult learning principles within their designs. Examples are collaborative discussions drawing on experience from the workplace or other research; delivering content using a variety of methods such as audio, video, interactive slideshows, case studies, quizzes, matching activities. They sourced and adapted existing materials wherever possible.
At the beginning of this stage learners identified a small group from each region to trial and give feedback on the e-learning induction activities which had been developed.
In week 8 we met again for a weekend workshop. On day 1 a thorough critique of all the e-learning activities was undertaken. The commitment to the project and passion of these educators was evident in this workshop. Click here to watch some videos of the critique. Later each individual adapted their topic based on the feedback provided in this session.
The remainder of the day was spent in small groups developing an evaluation strategy. Each group selected an approach to evaluate the SES Online Induction which would be completed alongside or after the completion of the upcoming facilitation component of the program.
On day 2 we conducted a validation activity and a professional practice activity where learners identified areas in which they wanted to develop their skills in the areas of VET, facilitation and assessment practice. Interestingly, but not surprising, was that the focus of many in the group was on the development of their e-learning design and facilitation skills.
Weeks 9-10: Facilitate and evaluate e-learning – each individual had identified a small group of SES volunteers from their local region, or family and friends ,who had agreed to trial the online materials and activities developed for the SES Induction program. The task included:
- identifying existing skills and knowledge within the group
- preparing learners to participate in e-learning
- responding and managing forums
- checking quiz results and assisting those who were not meeting the required outcome
- assessing and giving feedback on assessment tasks
- generally supporting learners as needed.
For many this was the most challenging part of the program primarily due to the short time frame in which they were required to complete the task. Many participants from the various trial groups did not complete sufficient activities to provide opportunities for our group to effectively demonstrate their competence in online facilitation. This was very disappointing and demotivating for our learners who had worked so hard to get to this point.
Our solution was to ask those people who were successful in their facilitation to become learners for those who were not successful. In this way we managed to provide an opportunity for all to complete the facilitation tasks.
Initially I was concerned about the impact this might have on the evaluation of the SES Induction program. However many gathered their data at the outset of the facilitation process by conducting a training needs analysis and then conducted informal interviews by phone asking questions about why learners had not completed the program. This provided a crucial learning experience for us all which I will discuss in the lessons learned section of this report.
Evaluation and finalisationOur project goals were to:
- increase knowledge and skills in e-learning methodologies and educational management practices leading to an increased capacity to develop and implement innovative online programs
- enable participants to take on the role of e-learning champion within and outside the SES leading to greater opportunities for promotion and/or employment
- develop an individual professional development plan
- provide a pathway to complete the Diploma of training design and development which in turn leads towards credit points in a Bachelor of Adult Learning.
To determine whether or not we have meet these goals we will consider the following:
- the SES blended learning induction program which will be produced as part of the project
- the experience of designing, developing and facilitating e-learning from a learner perspective
- the outcome of the professional practice activities
- the experience of designing and developing a blended learning diploma level qualification from the facilitator perspective.
Our approach was qualitative drawing the data from learner’s reflections throughout the program and though informal conversation. In the program there were 5 assessment tasks. The final component of each task was an individual reflection. The questions in the reflection encouraged learners to describe and analyse their experience and identify what went well and what might be done differently next time. Our analysis of these reflections allowed us to determine whether our goals were been met. I will discuss this in detail in the Results section of this report.
Benefits experienced by ….
The organisational perspectiveThe NSW SES has 12 educators with e-learning design, development and facilitation skills and knowledge as a result of this project. They also have the basis of a blended learning induction program which can be completed by their staff and/or volunteers.
The NSW SES are ready to support this group in the completion of the Diploma of Training Design and Development and the Diploma of Vocational Education and Training. They have submitted a proposal for further funding to complete the Diploma and allocated substantial funds of their own in support of the project.
Comments from the learners
“What a wonderful experience this project has been! I can now take my training, assessment and facilitation skills to yet another level with the addition of the e-learning component, the technology and the skills I have learned through professional practice of online program development, facilitation and assessment.
We have been introduced to the e-learning environment with Moodle and blackboard, had the opportunity to practice with other learners our new found skills, and developed and trialed an e-learning induction course for SES. This week we will be testing our program with SES members to gain feedback on all aspects of the course with a view to adopting this technology and mode of learning across the state for other SES members.
I can’t wait to get onto the next topic and start planning to roll e-learning out to the wider SES community. The benefits to me personally are immense with the acquisition of this qualification; I can go on to do further university study, or take my learning’s into other contexts, even take a new direction in my workplace. Most of all I look forward to being able to help my fellow SES members who live in remote areas of NSW and with the NBN rollout reach even the most remote learners and provide them with state of the art technology in learning.
The best thing about this project is the journey, we have had fun while learning new skills and gaining new knowledge, we have had the opportunity to practice what we learned and soon the icing on the cake will be when we go and teach others what we know, creating a ripple effect across the SES membership and our VET environment.”
“I have surprised by the possibilities open to us in using the Webinar and e-learning technology. I have learned we can do far more than just produce an CD or DVD to send out to learners. The kinds of online interactive activities and assessments that we have the potential to create has amazed me. There is the potential to have far more rigor around assessments than I thought possible using online methods.
This is a career booster for me as the skills you are teaching us are in high demand. What you have taught me has also allowed me to keep up to date with colleagues in other agencies. I am organising a webinar with a colleague in Sydney and he is going to participate in my webinar using his organisations smart-board. Normally I would have to travel from Wollongong to Sydney to meet with him face to face but by using technology we can meet via online video and share files, use chat and look at websites and documents without having to step out of our respective offices. This is going to save me about 4 hours of travel time just for this one meeting!!!”
“I have learnt so much form the program as well as the other participants through the course with face to face classes and webinars. This has opened up a whole new world of training and assessment that I thought I would never see, and to be a part of it has been an amazing journey. I just hope that this will continue to be a great journey for us all.”
“It was great to hear from the rest of the group their thoughts on e-learning and for them to provide ideas on how we can approach online learning in our organisation. I can see each of these trainers, myself included developing confidence in the online domain and really finding ways in which we can utlise these tools to improve our training.”
“This program has built a pool of people that I will be able to bounce ideas of and even turn to, to help with development of online programs within the SES. I am really looking forward to the next phase of the program where I can develop my facilitation/assessment skills and start training more SES members in online learning. My background is in Primary teacher and I have self developed my technology skills so that I can develop online learning tools. The bit of the puzzle I'm missing is the Facilitation and assessment within VET area and formal qualifications in Adult Education. With the opportunity to complete Bach. Adult education, coupled with my other degrees in IT and education, I will be able to further my career as an L&D consultant within the VET sector, focusing on online learning.”
Reflections from the trainersIt’s been an amazing journey.
I have been associated with the development of e-learning in the SES for over three years and this is the first opportunity there has been to embed e-learning skills and knowledge within the organisation. As an organisation they have turned a corner and are ready to embrace new ways of delivering learning and have supported and encouraged this project from the outset.
The group have demonstrated a high level of commitment to the project. Many members of the group work full time and volunteer for the SES. This project was an additional workload which they approached with enthusiasm and good humour.
There were periods of intense frustration, in particular when the facilitation activities did not go smoothly and additional work was required. Another challenge for some was learning to use Moodle and a substantial amount of support was required in this phase.
The biggest challenge from a facilitation perspective was the short time frame we had to complete the project. Every stage of the project felt rushed and learners have expressed the same feelings. The outcome of the short time frame was that at the outset the Moodle site was incomplete. The big picture was available but the detail was constructed as we moved through the various stages in the project. This is not dissimilar to preparing for a face to face training program for the first time when sometimes one prepares for the upcoming session week by week.
Nevertheless looking back I believe that the activities were sequenced correctly and that each topic provided sufficient scaffolding before moving on to the next stage of the program. This is evidenced by the successful completion of all tasks and the positive comments of the learners.
Generally speaking it is a privilege to participate in the development of new skills and knowledge for others and this project has been a fantastic experience.
- Conduct a thorough training needs analysis before designing the program
Ask for expressions of interest for participation with stated criteria to be met. This ensures that the learner group has sufficient skills and knowledge to successfully meet the requirements of the qualification and project outcomes.
- Design and develop the whole program before the start date. (This is an ideal scenario and is not always possible.)
- Engage learners in the development of their learning. Discuss time frames, availability, other commitments etc. to gain a realistic picture of what is possible.
- Learners found tracking the completion of tasks confusing. Moodle 1.9 does not have an effective tracking mechanism. Eventually a paper-based tracking sheet was developed and dispersed. This was a mammoth task for the trainer who had to check exactly what each learner had completed and develop an individual sheet for them. In future I would do this at the outset or recommend that the organisation upgrade to Moodle 2 which does have a tracking mechanism inbuilt.
- Allow 3-4 weeks for the facilitation stage of this program. Many of those who agreed to participate in the pilot were not e-confident. More time should have spent preparing them and perhaps coaching them as they trialled the induction program. Approximately 50% of the pilot group did not complete the program for a range of reasons such as battling with technology or competing demands on their time. The facilitators followed up with these learners asking questions about their experience. Surprisingly the response was generally positive. Although there was consistent feedback about the necessity to retain face to face training all agreed that it was was important to offer an online alternative and some indicated that those who are less computer literate would benefit from learning basic IT skills.
The resultsWe were successful in up-skilling 12 members of the NSW SES (all professional educators) and a KCC trainer to design, develop and facilitate e-learning in both synchronous and asynchronous environments with a view to becoming future e-champions.
Some learners have attained 4 units of competency from the Diploma of Training Design and Development. Others have partial completion with a view to finalising the requirements in the coming months. Following is a short summary of our achievements:
- TAEDEL503A Develop e-learning resources –we designed and developed a short webinar and a series of Moodle pages and activities which together form the online component of the SES Induction program. Some developed ARED and/or screen capture activities using Jing or similar
- TAEDEL501A Facilitate e-learning – the group facilitated a short webinar and trialled the blended learning induction program. Each individual identified 4-6 learners for their trial
- TAEDES505A Evaluate a training program – the group evaluated the SES Induction from a range of perspectives and one person evaluated eSkilling the SES
- TAEASS503A Lead assessment validation processes – we validated online assessment tasks. This unit will be completed by the end of June.
- TAEPDD501A Maintain and enhance professional practice – each individual identified and completed professional development activities in the areas of VET, facilitation and assessment. Each individual identified further professional development opportunities to be completed in the future including opportunities to gain recognition of existing skills and further training to complete the Diploma and 8 of our 12 learners have expressed interest in going on to higher education.
- evaluate the effectiveness of the training in meeting workforce needs
- evaluate the outcomes of the blended learning and/or assessment process vs existing outcomes
- determining the success of the trial.
This project has exposed the group to the breadth and depth that e-learning can offer. In the development of the induction program we showcased a range of e-learning methodologies with the intention of exposing others to a variety of e-learning tools and methods. Participants in the trial were impressed by the potential of this medium and 50% expressed interest in becoming e-facilitators and/or developers. In stage 2 our group will become e-champions and mentors for these participants thereby further embedding the culture of e-learning within the SES and providing valuable and marketable skills to a wider group.
As part of the professional practice activities we discussed Stage 2 of this project. The outcome of the discussion was that all members of our group want to complete the Diploma of Training Design and Development AND gain an additional 2 units which will result in a second Diploma of Vocational Education and Training. A double diploma will further increase opportunities for promotion and/or employment at a more senior level.
75% of our group are SES volunteers who work in a range of industries. Half of this group are in discussions with their employers regarding the implementation of e-learning. They are influencing change in their workplace as well as within the SES. This project has enabled this change in attitude and skills and the completion of the 2 diplomas will provide opportunities for consolidation and expansion of their knowledge and skills as well as providing credits towards a degree level qualification.
AcknowledgementThis is a NSW Higher Qualifications Pathways Project output, developed by Kiama Community College and the NSW State Emergency Service, with seed funding from the Strategy.
For more information
For more information on eSkilling the SES:Sonya Oyston
NSW State Emergency Service
Phone: (02) 4251 6518
Phone: (02) 9590 7979
For more information on the National VET E-learning Strategy:Website: flexiblelearning.net.au
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the Department’s logo, the SES logo any material protected by a trade mark and where otherwise noted all material presented in this document is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/) licence.