Talance unless they have a dedicated technical department with specialists), the list of technical tools you actually need to run your program is pretty short:

  • A computer
  • A mobile device for testing
  • Headphones, speakers or some way of listening to audio
  • A connection to the Internet

If you have CHWs in the field, that list might expand to include a terminal for checking lessons and possibly a printer.

Meanwhile, the list of software, apps and online services that promise a more productive and engaging online learning program continues to grow. Look at this enormous list of lists from Education World magazine, for starters.

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5 Apps & Tech Tools to Try for Your Online Training Program

Dozens of new services and promise to bring strength to your online community health worker training program. Here are five that are honestly useful.

Unless you’re considering setting up and hosting your own online learning program in-house (most organizations go with a managed hosting company like Talance unless they have a dedicated technical department with specialists), the list of technical tools you actually need to run your program is pretty short:

  • A computer
  • A mobile device for testing
  • Headphones, speakers or some way of listening to audio
  • A connection to the Internet

If you have CHWs in the field, that list might expand to include a terminal for checking lessons and possibly a printer.

Meanwhile, the list of software, apps and online services that promise a more productive and engaging online learning program continues to grow. Look at this enormous list of lists from Education World magazine, for starters.

You can spend years sifting through the options, but here are a few that we honestly think are helpful for administrators and instructors:

  1. ASTD Trainer’s Toolkit (app) – This unique app from ASTD is best for course building and instruction. It has ideas for activities and reminders for interacting with students, plus ways to keep notes and make bookmarks.
  2. Chief Learning Officer magazine (app) – Required reading if you’re considering setting up an online learning program. “Chief Learning Officer magazine is the foremost business resource for senior executives in the workforce learning and development industry, providing access to reliable information and insight into trends and developments in organizational development, strategy, employee training, leadership development, succession planning and instructional technology.”
  3. Diigo (web service) – Diigo is an old education standby for tracking bookmarks online (see the education edition). It keeps progressing, however, and the latest version is easy to use and features powerful sharing and note-taking features.
  4. Flashcard Apps (app) – “Flashcards are no longer tied to paper. Now with the help of your iPhone or iPad, you can have digital flashcards. We compare the best ones in this AppGuide.”
  5. TeacherKit (app) – This app lets instructors keep track of how their learners perform, including attendance, gradebook, assignment lists and more.

Training Delivery Trends Every Leader Must Know

What’s hot in online healthcare education delivery methods, and why your organization can’t ignore any of them.

Learners looking for keep raising the bar on what they expect in terms of skill-based health education. It seems anything can drive the need to expand and elevate what you offer your health workers. It might be availability (can they take the course in the evenings or after hours when they’re not in the field?), or hardware (does it work on the iPad?) or collaboration (is there a social element that lets learners network with each other?).

Many healthcare agencies still rely heavily on in-person training or consider “online” to be a PowerPoint presentation. If your organization is like this, you’ll need to work even harder to meet the expectations of your learners. Here are the trends you need to follow to navigate the ever-changing world of health training.

Cloud-based Learning

The “cloud” refers to the Internet in this instance. Cloud-based learning on a hosted LMS (learning management system) is a convenient and relatively low-cost way of delivering curricula to learners who want the ultimate in flexibility. Because courses are hosted online, learners can access the content 24/7 no matter where they are. Training that’s delivered over the Internet and always available is an expectation among most learners, especially younger ones who have already experienced learning online as part of high school and/or college.

Gamification

Anyone who has spent too many hours playing Candy Crush, or seen someone else glued to an Xbox, understands how games can grab your attention like nothing else. Savvy educators have noticed this too, and they’ve applied video game design elements to motivate learners. The theory is if something is fun, learners are engaged, and they’ll learn better and retain those skills.

A course with game-based elements might include immediate feedback, rewards such as “badges,” or increasing challenges.

(Read more about how Millennials embrace gamification.)

Localized Curriculum

Depending on the subject, off-the-shelf curriculum can be perfect. How many ways are there to screen someone for breast cancer, for example? While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for all topics, some localization is helpful. This might mean translating the course content into Spanish, or providing case studies that match demographics. This trend makes matching a course to your learners much easier.

Mobile Learning

More people are drifting away from their desktop computers in favor of their handhelds. This is driving the trend of more courses, or elements of the courses, to be available on mobile devices, and thus mobile learning, or m-learning. In practical terms, it means that the course should be visible when you’re looking at it on your smartphone. It might also have features such as forum updates, or compatibility with social applications.

MOOCs

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are about the biggest–and most controversial–thing in learning now. MOOCs are cloud-based courses on the web that are widely open to an unlimited number of participants. Many of these courses are free, at least for students, or priced low.

Social Learning

Just as social media revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, social learning is a trend that may change the way people learn with each other. Social learning employs many of the same tools and technologies of social media and applies them to the digital classroom. This might include Twitter, blogs, wikis, YouTube and Facebook.

Build A Better Health Worker Training Team

With the right team in place, your organization can establish and a successful online health worker training program that meets the needs of your learners.

The only way to create an online learning program that works and complements your organization is to plug into the right brainpower. But your team of online health training staff will look a little different from your average health training staff. The best programs have teams that are well trained in working with an online student base. Here are the essential members you’ll need for your team.

Executive Decision-Maker

This is an executive-level manager who is an advocate for the team and able to approve any necessary expenditures. The decision-maker is also the key approver on all decisions—especially ones that require a budget. This person may not attend meetings, but at least reviews executive summaries or meets with the project leader of the team for status. Having executive-level support is essential for a successful program.

An executive-level decision-maker must be internal.

Project Manager

The project manager oversees the full life cycle of the project. This manager also interfaces with the internal client and e-learning team, providing schedules and organizing deliverables so the project keeps on track. The project manager ensures the team has the information it needs to get the job done.

You can hire an outside project manager, but they should work very closely with an internal liaison.

Instructional Designer/Writer

Depending on the nature of your course, and if you’re creating it internally, you will need an instructional designer and/or a writer. The instructional designer takes the instructional material and arranges it in a way that’s informative, engaging and serves your pedagogic goals. In other words, they design the online course. Instructional designer Christy Tucker has a nice article on what she does for a living.

This may or may not be the same as a writer. We at Talance tend to work with an independent curriculum writer who specializes in editorial content. This person works closely with the instructional designer to create an interactive course that educates.

Both of these roles can be appointed to outside consultants.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

The instructional designer or curriculum writer works with subject matter experts to develop the content. An SME is not needed for every project. When the subject is new within the organization, the instructional designer may research the subject via books and journals or interview experts in the field.

A subject matter expert can be an internal staff member or an outside professional.

Editor

The editor improves writing and handles proofreading. It is widely believed by many that they can edit their own work (this is never true), or that anyone is qualified to edit (rarely true). Editing is where too many administrators skimp, and that’s a mistake. Hire a qualified editor and your final product will better engage your audience.

An editor can be an outside hire, and in rare circumstances, an internal appointee.

Graphic Designer

A graphic designer overlaps in some ways with an instructional designer, depending on the course. However the chief output of the graphic designer is images, iconography, animations, the look and feel of the course, and enhanced stock photos to fit project needs.

A graphic designer can be a qualified internal staff member, but make sure they are indeed qualified. Otherwise, use an outside designer.

Media Specialist

The media specialist produces and edits audio and video. This is almost certainly an outside consultant.

Technical Producer

The technical producer understands techspeak and can assemble all the elements into a running course. This person will create and apply custom CSS, mark up pages with HTML, add interactivity, and providing the technical coding necessary to ensure the course can interface with a learning management system (LMS) if required.

The technical producer is usually from a third party or vendor.

LMS Administrator

The LMS administrator is an expert at configuring the learning platform, from enrolling participants to creating online quizzes.

If you host your own platform, this could be an internal staff member, or it can be someone from the managed hosting company (such as Talance) you use.

Tester

Runs quality assurance (QA) checks by testing the course from a technical perspective and ensuring it matches the way the course was planned. Testers usually work off testing plans so they can make sure learners can use each part of the system.

A tester is usually from a third party or vendor, although it’s smart to perform internal testing as well.

Facilitators

Facilitators are trainers experienced in both in-person and online instruction who help learners create a cohesive learning community in which they share ideas, apply their knowledge, give feedback, and make reflections on their work.

You can use your existing training staff, but they should have a background in online learning or be trained to do so.

Free download: A step-by-step guide for training CHWs online

Learn more about what and who you need to set up an online training program with our free guide E-learning Strategy Essentials.

10 Ways To Increase Enrollment In Your New CHW Online Learning Program

Any training program needs extra effort to encourage enrollment, especially new ones. Here are 10 tips you can use to increase enrollment in your health worker training program.

Registration

1. Form partnerships with other programs and organizations

Team up with similar or complimentary programs or neighboring organizations, and ask them to co-promote the online course with you. This is very helpful for health worker training programs, where people with similar job functions are likely to work in wide range of areas. Participants can often learn from your partners while you both share strengths.

2. Remind early and often

The average person must be reminded of something 18 times before they act on it. This means you should notify participants of your new course sooner than you think and more often than you think. Look for ways to promote that include your staff’s e-mail signature and newsletters. Just keep putting the message out there.

3. Make sign-up easy

Broken enrollment forms, difficult enrollment forms, multi-step enrollment forms–they’re all bad news when it comes to encouraging registration. Make it brief and easy for people to sign up. It’s also a good idea to provide a phone number in case someone needs technical assistance when signing up, or if they’re more often in the field than in an office with access to online enrollment.

4. Introduce participants in person

Mingling in person before the course begins is a great way to introduce learners and begin forming relationships. Once they’ve made a positive connection, they’re more likely to participate in an online course. This happens naturally in a blended learning environment, but you can offer an orientation (see below) or a meet-and-greet where people can shake hands.

5. Hold an orientation

If this is the first time you’ve offered an online course, some of your potential participants might feel unsure about the format or technology. Make it easier by introducing them slowly. Hold a no-obligation orientation, either online via a webinar or in person, depending on your audience. Once people see how easy it is to take a course online, they often feel more confident about enrolling.

6. Identify champions

Some staff members will feel more passionately about online learning than others, and these are the ones you want to enlist. It’s common among groups of CHWs to find some who have taken courses before, and those who have first-hand experience the benefits of e-learning will help evangelize for you. They’ll help push your promotional efforts so you and your immediate staff aren’t the only ones.

7. Invite groups

Inviting groups is more efficient than inviting individuals. Emphasize your training is for groups of three or more, or push it to managers rather than learners. This technique also gives the groups a way to learn together and find ways to apply their knowledge to the workplace.

8. Offer takeaways

Dangling carrots are a great motivator. Offer a benefit of some kind that is only available upon successful completion. This might be a certificate of completion, compliance with a job, a workbook or forms, or even physical tools, such as blood pressure cuffs.

9. Get them involved beforehand

Find ways to get participants invested in the training before it even begins. You might invite people to submit questions to the instructor before enrollment. Another idea is to create polls or surveys whose results will feed into course content.

10. Go beyond reminder emails

Sending reminder emails is useful and relatively easy, but sometimes it’s not enough. Depending on the size of your group, you might try other ways to remind people to enroll, including phone calls, posted notices or postcards. This is especially important if your health workers aren’t necessarily in front of their e-mail all day.

[Photo credit: “Registration” from Official GDC on Flickr.]

Is Your Organization Ready For Training CHWs Online?

Answering a handful of key questions in this readiness quiz will let you assess how well your organization will adapt to a shift to training community health workers online, and tell you where you have the most work to do to prepare.

Online training is here and a regular way of life for learners from elementary school all the way through a professional health career. Many organizations are looking to e-learning as a method of training growing workforces of CHWs, but some will find the process easier than others. Those organizations that have planned carefully for online learning and have integrated a program into its entire training strategy will advance relatively quickly, have happier learners and ultimately more successful community health programs. The most ill-prepared organizations will be the ones that find it hardest.

Rate yourself on the questions below to give yourself an indication of how ready your organization is for computer-based training for CHWs. These questions aren’t scientific, but they are based on our 13 years’ experience helping organizations bring e-learning to their staff, and watching hundreds of health workers learn new skills online.

Jot down your answer for each question, and then scroll to the end of the quiz for instructions on how to interpret your score.

Once you’ve determined how ready your organization is, then consider how ready your CHWs are to be trained online.

E-learning Readiness Quiz

What is your organization’s experience with e-learning?

  1. None, we’re completely new to e-learning.
  2. A little. Some of us have taken the odd class.
  3. We have started delivering online learning in the last year.
  4. We have a robust program that we’ve been running for more than a year.

Why is your organization looking at e-learning?

  1. It seems like everyone else is offering it, so why not us?
  2. It could be a way to save money.
  3. My boss is asking for it.
  4. We want to increase the capacity of our training program.

How supportive is your leadership of e-learning?

  1. They don’t know about our e-learning program.
  2. They know about the program but don’t have time or interest to be involved in a significant way.
  3. They are asking for updates about the program.
  4. They’re driving development and making decisions.

How well-developed is your internal support system for e-learning?

  1. We’re not sure what would be involved in a support system.
  2. We’re planning on hiring a consultant to help run a course.
  3. We have identified a person on staff who will be responsible for running the program.
  4. We have a dedicated e-learning staff and run our own courses.

How ready is your technology to the task?

  1. We aren’t sure what technology is required of an e-learning program.
  2. We have made a decision about what kind of technology we’ll need for online learning, but we haven’t moved forward with anything yet.
  3. We have piloted a couple training sessions using different technologies.
  4. We run our own e-learning program on a learning management system or contract closely with a vendor to handle the technology and logistics for us.

How ready are your learners?

  1. Our learners have little or no computer skills and limited access to a computer connected to the Internet.
  2. Around half of our learners have taken an online course before.
  3. Our learners have access to computers connected to the Internet. They understand how online training can help them with skill-building, but need to learn on their own time.
  4. Our learners have access to computers both at home and at work, and we have assigned several hours per week for them to complete training.

How integrated is e-learning into your overall training strategy?

  1. Not at all, we’re unsure of what we need to do to integrate an e-learning initiative.
  2. Some, we know we need buy-in from the existing trainers, although they are resistant.
  3. We are training our staff to segue into more online learning.
  4. We run a fully integrated e-learning program through blended learning or uniquely online.

How much planning have you done for a transition to e-learning?

  1. None, we’re just going to see what works.
  2. Some. We have looked at what we’ll need from a staff and budgetary perspective.
  3. We have assigned the HR department the task of organizing compliance trainings.
  4. We created and executed a full change management plan that includes reorganizing all departments to accommodate needs from learners and staff.

Scoring

Review your answers and total up your points according to this scale:

A = 1 point

B = 2 points

C = 3 points

D = 4 points

If you scored …

8-10: You’re at the very beginning of considering an e-learning program and have quite a bit to do before you’re ready for a smooth transition. Check out E-learning Strategy Essentials to find out what you need to do to create a smart plan.

11-20: You’ve started your research and sound ready to make a leap. Keep working to define your staff and learner needs so you can plan for an integrated e-learning initiative. Check out E-learning Strategy Essentials to find out what you need to do to create a smart plan.

21-24: You’re on your way to branching out into a solid e-learning program. Make sure you have full buy-in from leadership, trainers and staff.

25-32: Congratulations, it sounds like you’ve figured out what you need to offer an ongoing e-learning program. There’s always room for improvement, though, so be sure to include regular evaluations and revisions to offer your employees the best learning experience possible.

Questions to Ask CHWs Before Starting a Course

Make your CHW’s online experience a success by identifying their strengths and weaknesses before they begin.

After months of planning, designing and working, you’re ready to offer your first online course. It’s been a detailed process that involved buy-in from administrators and department heads, and training for your staff. You’ve got the technology set up and everything has been tested, re-tested and is as close to perfect as it’s going to be. Your team is without a doubt ready to make the leap to computer-based training.

But are your community health workers?

Organizations everywhere suffer from too much introspection. They are so internally focused that they forget to consider the people they’re serving. They neglect any kind of evaluation of how their CHWs will deal with whatever it is they’re serving up.

Online training is no different. Many of the same reasons that might have made it a challenge to get your own organization to adapt an online program to train health workers hold true with your learners. They might fear technology. They might be in the field and not have the right equipment. They might lack even the most rudimentary skills for working online, which was the case for one course we ran for a group of community liaisons. They might have a learning style that doesn’t mesh with what your course offers.

Online Learning Readiness Assessment

These are all hurdles that can be crossed, but you need to be aware of them before moving forward. A little preparation for both your staff and for the CHW trainees will make your course more successful. An online learning assessment will allow both learner and instructor to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Sample Questions

We use an orientation quiz with all the courses we build that asks participants to rate themselves in such areas as:

  • Comfort taking an online course
  • Uploading and downloading files
  • Researching information online
  • Sending and receiving e-mails
  • Participating in discussion forums

Think about what kinds of skills your CHWs will need to have to successfully complete the course, and put assessment questions related to these it into a “readiness quiz” to be completed before class begins. The results will tell students what to expect, and help you understand in what areas you’ll need to offer extra assistance.

Here are some examples from elsewhere that can help you figure out how to structure your assessment quiz:

Online Learning Assessment, Online Colleges

Readiness for Online Learning, Pennsylvania State University

Online Readiness Self-Assessment , Southern Arkansas University

Free Download: How Washington’s Office of Healthy Communities Uses E-learning to Train up to 500 Employees a Year Download Talance’s free case study to learn how this state department created a successful program to train community health workers.

Photo credit: Students taking a computerized exam by Extra Ketchup, on Flickr