My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
The term “online learning” is notoriously slippery. One person’s PDF handout is another person’s webinar.
While defining the way you deliver training online to community health workers might be confusing to the uninitiated, there is a method that the industry follows. Here’s a handy little guide to how e-learning is delivered, which is summed up in two words: asynchronous and synchronous.
Asynchronous means that learners may be in the class together, but they’re not online at the same time. One person might log in to review their work in the morning, while another logs in at midnight. They’re reviewing the same information, they even might be completing assignments together, but they do their work at different times. The work gets done when the learner does it. There may or may not be a facilitator or instructor with asynchronous learning. Examples:
In online training, synchronous means that everyone completes the training together, at the same time. In practical terms, this means there’s a scheduled time to show up and finish, and everyone has to follow the same schedule. The work gets done only during a specified time. There is a facilitator or instructor with synchronous learning. Examples:
There are mixtures of these classifications, and many programs also incorporate an in-person element with blended learning (read more about blended learning). These classifications form the basis of most online training programs, and knowing the difference between them will help inform your decision about what kind of training is right for you.
Curious to see what some of these learning methods look like? Try out yourself in our free upcoming webinar Introduction to E-Learning: What Every AHEC Needs To Know About Online Training.
When: Tues., Oct. 7, 2014, 1pm ET
Length: 60 minutes
Everyone talks about online learning, but what does it really mean? We’ll cut through the jargon to explain the basics of health-based e-learning, and discuss why offering online courses can help you boost your enrollment numbers. We’ll identify the elements you’ll need to structure your online training program.
In this webinar, you’ll learn how to get the whole team on board, what the technology requirements are, and why your learners are probably asking for online module delivery. You’ll walk away with knowledge about online training that will help energize your organization and help you increase participation in your program.
Monique Cuvelier is the president of Talance and founder of CHWTraining.org. She has worked with health-based organizations across the country in helping them create robust training programs. Clients include AHEC of Southeastern Massachusetts and the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers.
AHEC executives looking for innovative education that will drive engagement and help build participation.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The media specialist produces and edits audio and video. This is almost certainly an outside consultant.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.]
Talance, Inc., provides curriculum development and technology tools to organizations that want to create workers who transform health in America’s communities.