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Case Sudy: Blended Learning at the Home Office


With 15,000 staff across 166 offices, training employees to support an IT upgrade was no straight-forward task for the Home Office.

When it decided to upgrade to Windows XP and Office XP from older versions of the software, the Home Office opted for a blended learning solution that would combine face-to-face training with e-learning across all sites.

The Blend
The programme involves 300 instructor-led seminars, bespoke e-learning and live coaching.

Lasting around two-and-a-half hours, face-to-face sessions demonstrate the latest versions of Windows and Office and explain how they differ from their predecessors. Participants are also given an overview of the accompanying e-learning course, which focuses on the new features in Windows XP and Office XP and also explains some of the Home Office’s policies for using the software.

“Upgrading to XP and providing this training should help to improve our productivity,” said Chris Davison, the IT Training and E-learning Services Manager in the Home Office’s Opportunities Training & Development team.

“Undoubtedly there are major cost savings from blending e-learning and instructor-led briefings. The e-learning course lasts around two hours but people can focus on what they need to learn by dipping in and out of it at their desktop when it suits them.”

The Home Office has a ten-year £350m contract with Sirius - a consortium comprising Fujitsu, PricewaterhouseCoopers and telecoms firm Global Crossing - for information technology and related services.

In turn, Sirius has awarded a 10-year ‘managed learning’ contract to KnowledgePool to provide all upgrade training to the Home Office for end-user applications and telephone systems.

For the Windows XP upgrade project, Sirius is providing the infrastructure, including Pentium 4 PCs with flat-screen monitors, and the new software.

For the staff training, KnowledgePool worked closely with the Home Office internal training organisation - Opportunities, Training & Development - and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate College to develop a blended programme to support the upgrade.

The new XP desktops will contain an online link to the e-learning course. As the software is installed at each site, KnowledgePool trainers will provide desk-side coaching, as needed. The training company is also providing laminated A4 quick-reference summary guides and it will run a telephone helpline for users.

For anyone unable to attend one of the briefing seminars - because of holidays, illness or maternity leave - or for those who want a refresher, there is a 15-minute video, covering essential extracts available at each of the Home Office’s 166 sites.

Keeping Track
To manage the administration of the classroom briefing seminars, KnowledgePool is using its automated web-based booking system, Livebooker. In the run-up to the software roll-out at each site, the system invites end users to a briefing seminar and books their place in real time.

It then provides confirmation of their booking, with an overview of the briefing seminar and details of the location. The system also captures end user feedback about the briefings and the follow up desk-side coaching.

The software roll-out began in July 2004, after a successful pilot. It should be completed by April 2005 and briefing seminars have so far been running with an attendance rate of over 97 per cent.


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