8 tips for elearning success from the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution scooped the Charity Learning Award 2012 for Best Overall Online Programme for its one-stop-shop Learning Zone.

A legacy of different HR systems meant the organisation needed to create one place where crew, volunteers and staff could access learning resources.

Based on the Totara learning management system, the Learning Zone features resources classified by RNLI competencies which are linked to personal development plans.

Staff can add performance goals and also link these to relevant courses, crew can see their training assessment status and service history and other volunteers have development plans guiding them to recommended courses and resources.

The launch of the Learning Zone was promoted with a marketing campaign, with lunchtime events for each department. In the first 10 weeks more than 1,000 people used the new system, compared with the previous annual average of just 300.

Added to this, champions in each department and region offer ongoing support, and lunchtime clinics continue to highlight and demonstrate what’s on offer.

John Le Rossignol, learning resources manager at the RNLI, shared his eight tips for elearning success:

  1. Involve representatives from each user group in defining requirements and system testing, including administrators
  2. We needed a solutions architect to help define and prioritise complex requirements, and would do this sooner in future
  3. Rigorously define the scope and avoid the temptation to keep including extra requests
  4. Don’t underestimate the complexity of integrating with an HR system and single sign-on
  5. Make sure the login page is absolutely fool-proof and ensure that communication about login routes is clear and simple
  6. RNLI use the RAID acronym to help manage stakeholders: for each element of the project we, defined who Recommends, Agrees (vetos), Inputs, and Decides (only one person!)
  7. Be persistent, with a strong vision to beat the sceptics – and don’t give up when it seems like a technical nightmare
  8. Choose a name which says what’s in the tin, but a strong strap-line helps marketing. ‘RNLI Learning zone’ was the best name we could think of, but we added ‘…plot your own course’. This works on two levels – it adds a maritime flavour but also sums up the key benefit of enabling the learner to manage their own learning with flexible options

[Pictured: John Le Rossignol, learning resources manager, RNLI (left), with Martin Baker, CEO, The Charity Learning Consortium]

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