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Nicola Cockayne


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e-learning photo characters to promote e-learning


Hello!  I haven't got a clue on this one - so all advice most welcomed!  We're putting together an elearning homepage on our  in-house intranet page.   We want to attract more people to what is available, and one idea that I've been asked to research is a "photo character" to act as a mascot to elearning in our organisation. Our budget is lower than low - any recommendations on suppliers? advice?  Please help!  Thank you!

12 Responses

  1. Kube

    I keep recommending this company on here but they really are good!

    Drop them an e mail saying what you said in your post here and I’m sure they can help.

    Good luck




  2. Any keen designers in house?

    If budget really is tight, you might want to ask around to see who does a bit of drawing in their spare time – you might be surprised!

    Same for photography – we have about four extremely keen photographers in our organisation, who spend thousands of pounds on their hobby. If I ever need a high quality photo they’re always more than happy to do something. It’s nice to feel needed after all 🙂 

  3. in addition


    forgive me if this is not needed but for many organisations one of the problems they have with their elearning is actually with the attitude of managers, who, when they see someone doing an elearning class during work hours, ask "Haven’t you got any work to do?"

    If you can make sure that elearning is seen as valuable work activity then this will go a long way to getting people using it; perhaps you could factor this in to your photo search and get a good photo mascot that also helps educate managers to allow/encourage elearning at work as well as getting people to "do" elearning (Yes, I know that managers are people too!)



  4. “How long will it take?”

    "forgive me if this is not needed but for many organisations one of the problems they have with their elearning is actually with the attitude of managers, who, when they see someone doing an elearning class during work hours, ask "Haven’t you got any work to do?""

    Ah yes, I’ve been there, including the question "how long will it take them to go through it?"

    Answer: as long as it takes them to meet the learning objectives 🙂

    Educating managers is important, in my early days I used to assume that managers would know it was in their interest to allocate training time. After seeing online courses gather dust I now know better!

  5. e-learning – educating managers – help and advice too!

     Thanks for all of this good stuff already.  

     Hi Russ and Chutzpah – I’ll also take any tips/ideas/experiences you have for  educating those managers too  – please!


  6. Improving involvement

     For me Nicola it means involving those line managers in the design of the training. If they are involved from the initial needs analysis then they see the positive benefits of it much more clearly.

    However, this may be difficult if you are in a much larger organisation than mine.

  7. Managers role

    Hi Nicola

    Building on the emerging theme of how to engage managers in their support of e-learning.

    E-learning does have some particular issues that need to be addressed – both for managers and learners.  Learners need educating as to how to engage with e-learning – we provide what we call technology enabled learning showcase events where we show people how to log on, how to search, how to use message forums, webinars etc.  We also provide them with headsets (essential in an open plan office) and simple guidance on participation (put phone on voice mail, quit email, put time in diary etc).  Environment and culture both need to be addressed to make e-learning successful – not just technology.

    This orientation is coupled with our ‘normal’ work with managers ensuring that they are having development conversations, development is aligned with the job and business goals etc – this is the same for instructor led learning as it is for e-learning or reading a book.  This then means that employees will not be participating in e-learning without it having been discussed with their manager and approved as being relevant and necessary.

    Managers who ask, "haven’t you got any work to do" in response to e-learning are the same ones who are likely to ask, "did you have a nice holiday?" when someone returns from a gruelling assessment centre!!  E-learning isn’t the issue, it’s the manager!!



  8. getting managers’ buy-in

    here are some ideas to add to the already useful mix.

    1. Ensure that managers are recognised or ‘berated’ for their people’s development….it is a vital part of a managers role

    2. Ensure that people (including managers) who undertake elearning get the appropriate level of pre event preparation from/with their manager (what are they going to get out of it) and post event support, assessment and feedback from/with their manager (what did they get out of it, what will they do differently now, would they recommend it to their colleagues)

    3. Publicise the benefits (to the learner, their manager and the organisation) of the elearning, use real quotes from learners where possible 

    4. Get some senior managers to do the elearning and to comment on it (my experience is that many senior managers see elearning as something for the "little people"; senior managers only go to top business schools in order to learn anything that is appropriate to their level of intellect)

    5. Get a large proportion of your standard induction programme set on elearning so that new starters (both entry level and managers/board) will have an entree into the elearning culture




  9. For photo and image resources

     I’d recommend the folowing: is a free, generally licence free directory of photos. Stock exchange serves the same purpose but has a better range of photos.  Registration is required and check the terms of each image you use. is a good quality suite of cartoon comic characters that can be used if attributed to Sun Microsystems.

  10. For Management buy-in

    Make the management the designers – we stopped producing the elearning elements and coach managers on creating effective interventions.  We quality assure the content before it’s made public to make sure that they make content that isn’t just click and read.

    Make the e-content run parallel to any face to face content you offer.  If you provide documents on the training, add them to the e-content so users can see what they’re training on beforehand.  Make sure your pre/post mgt briefings include the e-elements that would be beneficial before face to face attendance.

    Your elearning must contain ‘real’ activities, be interesting, up to date, and challenging.  That doesn’t mean sticking everything in it but making sure it’s contextual; if the learner can’t associate with the elearning in their role they won’t treat it seriously, and neither will their manager.



  11. Thank you!

    Thank you so much for all of the responses.   Lots of ideas that have got me buzzing – and will definitely try out. Mark – I will definitely be selling the idea of "showcases for of  technology enabled learning" – thank you.  And Rus, I can certainly identify with your observation "on senior managers who only go to top business schools" – I now have a new target list!

    Fantastic spin-off from my original query – but I’ve got websites to try out too!

    Thanks again all,


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Nicola Cockayne

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Read more from Nicola Cockayne

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