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Martin Couzins

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“Creative delivery” key to Barnardo’s win at Charity Learning Awards


Children’s charity Barnardo’s has won the best overall elearning programme award at the Charity Learning Awards.

Judges were particularly impressed with the breadth of learning technologies Barnardo's has embraced, the innovative approach taken, and the organisation’s dedication to supporting its elearners.

Barnardo’s learning and development team of five was praised for reaching a large organisation - using creative initiatives to support the development of 7,500 staff and volunteers at 400 sites across the UK.

Award judges were particularly impressed that the team embraced so many different types of learning technologies, including  virtual classrooms, video, wikis, and an online learning community through to elearning.

New recruits to the charity are provided with a 45-minute virtual classroom session introducing Barnardo’s IT systems. Staff are shown how to access the charity’s learning resources and support, and this virtual classroom is also available to existing staff. All elearning is delivered via a customised Charity Learning Consortium Moodle website.

Adopting learning technologies has helped the charity reach 54% more learners in 2010/2011 compared to those it trained in 2006/07.

Lisa Johnson, Barnardo’s IT learning and development manager, said: "ELearning and the use of other learning technologies has had a major impact on the way we support IT users within our organisation. Sixty per cent of our delivery is now online."

Judges were also impressed with the L&D team’s innovative approach. Analysis of calls to Barnardo's helpdesk led to the team producing online fact sheets based on FAQs.  As a direct result "How to" calls were reduced by 50%.

Johnson said the charity’s awards success was based on the team’s ability to listen to the challenges learners face and to develop viable solutions to solve problems. This policy has had a noticeable impact on the organisation’s learning culture, she said.

Johnson added: "Initially our staff were reluctant to try elearning and felt isolated. By introducing individual learning contracts, team-based learning and promoting learning in small bite-sized modules, we helped people overcome their concerns.

"The team introduced virtual classrooms and learners were at first anxious - but once they attended a session they were hooked and we are seeing more staff sign up.

"As an alternative to requesting 'training', staff are also now choosing self-directed learning. Instead of staff saying, 'I need a course,' the enquiry is now, 'Where can I find a learning resource that will help me do x?' This is a major shift forward."

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