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Phil Reddall

Capita KnowledgePool & The eLN

Vice Chair of the eLN & Strategic Learning Consultant

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Curriculum Transformation – ‘The devil’s in the planning’


With efficiency and effectiveness at its heart , curriculum transformation is a programme that looks to shift the blend towards learner centric distance learning and work based learning.

Put simply this often (but not always) means less classroom, more technology, more self-paced and more on the job learning. In turn this achieves benefits like, reduced speed to competence, a change in the ratio of formal, informal and collaborative learning, reduced training delivery costs, reduced travel costs etc.

But this blog isn't about the transformation its self, instead its about the key elements that help ensure effective implementation of a transformation programme.

So what’s the blueprint for success?

Well as a starting point , in terms of the ‘headline’ areas to consider I believe the top level building blocks are simple when delivering a change to the curriculum on this scale, as the title suggests; the devil is in the planning rather than the solutions.

Three key areas are:

1) People and Partners

2) Principals

3) Process

People & Partners

Two key elements in terms of engaging with the business and physically delivering the change are the key people within the organisation and the external suppliers that create your learning materials (or the internal teams that do this). Generally speaking, best in class e-Learning design skills are needed alongside blended Instructional Design experience, the ability to understand and deliver on strategic goals and the scale within a development team to manage, deliver, communicate and land large transformational workloads.

Additionally; depending on the scale of stakeholder engagement and project management needed ‘key people’ might mean one internally facing Programme Manager alongside one that managed the team or it may mean a small programme team to lead the designers and developers. Wherever on the scale a programme sits it is this role/s that will be fundamental to success.

Senior stakeholder management and high level communication skills are vital in any programme manager in order that the Learning Technology (and other deliverables) development process, its intricacies, and the inevitable internal challenges are all communicated and managed appropriately.

But don’t stop at what’s needed now in terms of people and partners… Think about the future too.

After the transformation one option is to set-up an e-Learning ‘maintenance team’ to manage the day to day upkeep of materials, ‘resourcing to the stable known demand’ (the trough) is a cost effective way of maintaining a catalogue with spikes in demand serviced by external partners .


1) Prioritise by focusing on business wide elements of the curriculum or those that impact on large chunks of the learner population to maximise impact, identify within those which will provide the best return.

2) Define your ideal end state curriculum in terms of blend, innovation and delivery mechanisms.

3) Focus on the largest populations first.

4) Always undertake a review that considers the overall strategy.

5) Identify where the resource to complete the transformation will come from. (Internal or External?)

6) Focus on the ROI provided and prioritise based on this

7) Always take in to account the internal promotion & ‘hearts and minds’ piece needed


Planning – engage with business areas and ensure you understand what is needed. Identify decision makers and set up steering groups and an overarching steering committee if needed.

Development – Alongside the normal training models (ADDIE being just one) make sure you focus on the governance of a project of this size. Design standards, technical standards, trusted external suppliers, well informed internal resources, all are vital when embarking on a development project of this scale to ensure a level of standardisation and a joined up approach.

Indicative VALUE driven examples

The examples below are based on a situation where the organisation had already transformed all business wide programmes that could be optimised and where the opportunity now resided ‘out in the business areas’ within their business specific training materials.

The larger the audience the better the return so any ‘group wide’ opportunities will likely see even better returns.

Example current programme type No 1: Divisional Induction – 6 weeks

Typical Transformation:

Reduction in classroom time (3 days), Reduction in trainer delivery time (6-10 days), Increased speed to competence* (3-7 days) *achieved with on job learning

Estimated investment required – £190k


Based on 11k learners - Assuming 5% turnover

Classroom reduction = £320k per year, Trainer time reduction = £55k per year

Based on 6k learners

Classroom reduction = £185k per year, Trainer time reduction = £55k per year

Example current programme type No2 : Mandatory Compliance learning (10 hrs e-Learning)

Typical Transformation:

2 hours reduction per colleague min per year, Using the in-diagnostic tool further savings based on 10% pass 25% pass - Estimated investment required – £200-250k


Based on 11k learners - Assuming 100% yearly completion needed

Learner time saving = £596k per year, Using a built-in diagnostic tool further savings of: 10% pass =£179k per year, 25% pass =£447k per year

Based on 6k learners

Learner time saving = £330k per year Using the in-diagnostic tool further savings of: 10% pass = £98k per year, 25% pass =£240k per year

Additional - Parallel enabling initiatives

To both enable a transformation programme and to ensure longevity and sustainability of that transformation to contribute to future savings the following two initiatives although not directly delivering transformation will enable more opportunities to be identified and acted upon.

e-Learning MI initiative

It is vital to the efficient and effective management of learning that e-learning MI undergoes a review programme to identify if MI is sufficient to allow detailed analysis of the online curriculum and where efficiencies and improvements can be made. A programme that focused on details like pass marks, centralisation of data, data governance and administration of records (possibly tying in with a review of how the LMS is physically administered) would enable many new opportunities.

Strategic Drive

The MI initiative and transformation process mentioned above is closely linked to e-learning governance and the ‘ownership/drive’ of strategy. Whilst I strongly believe that the governance element should reside within the organisation great value can be gained by providing your transformation partner with the mandate to drive through learning strategy across the business under the guidance and support of governance and a ‘committee’ set up to maintain it.

Ultimately Curriculum Transformation can be a hugely beneficial activity both financially and in terms of best practice learning. The trick is in managing the transformation process itself, avoiding the pitfalls and keeping focused on the goals.

What are your biggest challenges with Transformation? Have you had similar experiences?

Author Profile Picture
Phil Reddall

Vice Chair of the eLN & Strategic Learning Consultant

Read more from Phil Reddall

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