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Online workshop report: Creating a Learning Resource Centre

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This is the transcript from the online workshop held on Tuesday 7 November on the topic of creating a Learning Resource Centre.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Yvonne, Gareth, thanks for coming. We'll just wait a few more minutes to see who else turns up.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Christine, Sherwyn. Shall we get started with some introductions, some background information?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Don. Just beginning with introductions.

Sherwyn Singh hello everyone, who is moderating the discussion?

Stephanie Phillips Sherwyn - I am.

Don Williams Hello everyone.

Stephanie Phillips The idea is that I'll keep an eye on the discussion and guide things if need be.

George Parker Hi - who starts the ball rolling here?

Christine Noble Hi all, I'm Christine. I'd like to be pretty much an observer, but will chip in if I can add value.

Stephanie Phillips If I start by saying I worked to set up an LRC quite a few years ago, but left before it got put to use fully. What about others?

George Parker I'm George - I work for the Dixons Group Plc Contact Centre in Sheffield - we are just about to begin a project to create and launch a learning centre - anyone got any tips.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks George - I'm sure there will be some. Who else wants to introduce themselves?

Gareth Pugh I am Gareth I worked for Lloyds TSB involved in e learning but I left two weeks ago to become a consultant for a company called Multimedia Training.

Yvonne Akinmodun Hi all, I'm Yvonne. I work for a small housing association with national coverage, we don't have a LRC yet but I am thinking of setting one up and would like to pick up a few tips.

Don Williams Don, Freelance IT Trainer......I think the resources should be specific to one area.

Russell Holt Russell Holt. I work for TrainingZONE. In a way we're developing our own learning resource Centre so am keen to get ideas, opinions etc.

Stephanie Phillips Great, thanks all. Do people want to look at the logistics of setting one up first, or concentrate on content or marketing the centre?

Don Williams Why not?

George Parker We have an area identified with 8 PC's and adjoining meeting rooms for use for private study.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, George - how much is it used? Do you evaluate how effective it is?

Yvonne Akinmodun I would like to start with the logistics if that is ok. I am however very interested in how you obtain buy in from senior management.

George Parker Not in use as yet - the building only opened 8 weeks ago and we are conscious to start out on the right foot. Our centre will be a resource for up to 2000 employees - any views on the size of the facility we will need?
Stephanie Phillips Yvonne - my feeling is that the financial aspect is pretty important to getting buy-in - can you cost out how much it is to send all staff off-site for training?

Gareth Pugh Which floor are your rooms on?

George Parker Ground floor.

Gareth Pugh Signage is important so people know it exists and where it is.

Stephanie Phillips George - how do people know they're there? (if it's not too obvious!).


Stephanie Phillips And who has access to it - everyone or just some people?

Gareth Pugh Yvonne - Return on Investment is the big thing for management.

Don Williams The number of machines would depend on the number to be trained and to what level, and Co. commitment...

George Parker Re - buy in from Senior Management - we are lucky as they didn't need much convincing - the impact on taking people off on courses is a driver to having other learning options and facilities.

George Parker Our site is very visible within the centre.

Gareth Pugh What else in the rooms?

George Parker ROI - is a nice slogan but what measures have you used Gareth?

Yvonne Akinmodun Yes, at the moment because we are national, 50% of staff go on locally run courses which is not as cost effective as running courses in-house.

Stephanie Phillips Gareth - can we come to that in a minute, thanks - let's look at the financial impact first!

George Parker difficult to describe the facilities - state of the art building - bank of 8 PC's and 4 adjoining rooms which hold up to a max of 6 people.

Don Williams Perhaps a mobile training room is the answer?

Stephanie Phillips Yvonne - they need to accept there will be an initial outlay to recoup, which may take time. Don - sounds a good idea for multi-site companies.

Don Williams Just move the mountain Ha!

George Parker Need to present a business plan - link it to your training costs (how it would benefit your current budget allocation), staff turnover, development and succession planning benefits.

Don Williams I believe it is generally accepted that 6-8 machines is the most practical?

George Parker Look creatively for partnerships with other organisations to either gain equipment or resources.

Russell Holt Is the financial impact the main driving force or do you anticipate better outcomes?

Stephanie Phillips George - thanks, all valid points.

Yvonne Akinmodun I like the idea of a mobile training room - need to cost it though before I can sell the concept, but I think it could work.

George Parker Good point Russell - outcomes could be a better focus for your business case.

Don Williams Have a look at Spring Training Yvonne.

Russell Holt In your cases, George, how have staff responded to this change in focus from courses to in-house.

Stephanie Phillips Does anyone include books, audio or video-tapes in their rooms? It's not just computer-based learning that can take place there.

George Parker Anyone had any thing to do with these companies who do training (mainly systems training) on a bus - arrive at your site and deliver training in the car park?

Gareth Pugh At Lloyds TSB they set up CyberCafes which used all mediums.

Don Williams George, as I mentioned - Spring (no connection).

Gareth Pugh George that is Spring.

Yvonne Akinmodun I'm a bit lost Don, what is Spring Training?

George Parker Stephanie, our approach is that training and learning take many different formats - workshops, books, audio, CBT, coaching, etc. - we plan to offer a range of learning options via a catalogue (on line) to meet the individual and business needs to enable development to happen.

Don Williams Various types of medium should be available - not everyone takes to CBT...

Stephanie Phillips There's another company with blue coaches..

George Parker Russell - very few courses are outsourced - we have a multi skilled training team on board.

Stephanie Phillips George - sounds a good route to take.

Don Williams If you send me an email Yvonne I will give you the details of how you can contact them..

Gareth Pugh Lloyds TSB promoted the use of remote learning rather than face to face, this included any training that the staff could complete at the workplace.

George Parker what pitfalls did you uncover at TSB with this approach Gareth?

Stephanie Phillips (Yvonne - as far as I'm aware, Spring are a training provider, among other things).

Gareth Pugh harder to track users progress as at face to face courses you can see when people don't turn up.

Stephanie Phillips Gareth - that's quite a big issue! How did you deal with it?

Gareth Pugh Also face to face was seen as real training
Sherwyn Singh ISP problems, sorry. Just read transcript to see where the discussion is heading quick intro: Management/Training Consultant looking at two projects to set up learning centres.

Don Williams Do you find that people are not yet ready to take control of their own training?

Gareth Pugh Lloyds TSB were looking at a LMS when I left.

Stephanie Phillips I guess there's often a culture shift which needs to take place to accept new ways of delivering training.

George Parker So can we progress onto the issue of marketing - how did you launch and keep it in the 'public eye'? - and do you think the notion of owning your own learning is a realistic option not just text book view?

Gareth Pugh The University for Lloyds TSB was established as a brand and all training promoted under it.

Russell Holt Self managed training will suit some but not others. The one's that need training most may miss out. That's the big risk.

George Parker Tell me more about the University for Lloyds - how big what did it deliver?

Don Williams I rather agree with you Russell.

Stephanie Phillips Good points. It's important to make sure that people know when they can use it - get managers to support the programme. Possibly allocate a set amount of time for each learner to be able to use in the centre.

George Parker Yes, so what methods do you use to lead the horses to water?

Gareth Pugh It is supposed to be a Virtual Corporate University and was et up last year.

George Parker Tell me more please Gareth.

Gareth Pugh All learning is now branded UfLTSB. 3 e learning channels promoted.

Stephanie Phillips I think it's partly a case of seeing others use it successfully....

Gareth Pugh Stand alone PCs (and CyberCafes), Intranet and Internet.

George Parker So without being cynical - just a repackage or has there been a fundamental shift in the training strategy?

Gareth Pugh The training strategy came first, this was the move to remote learning.

Gareth Pugh Sponsors of training always expected face to face material but the strategy promoted e learning as the default.

Stephanie Phillips Any other suggestions as to how to get 'non-learners' involved?

Gareth Pugh Ask them what learning they want?

George Parker One idea is that we will resource people with times to attend the centre with a menu of options or modules they need to complete to progress their career on our career ladder - whilst they are in the centre we will also promote how else they can use the facilities and manage or begin managing own learning.

Stephanie Phillips Gareth - how are the 'students' finding things?

Don Williams I have sometimes used the transfer of skills - i.e. using skills for hobby/home.

Stephanie Phillips Don - how did that work?

Gareth Pugh Which students are we talking about?

George Parker centre to be staffed but not sure whether we need a 'librarian' or a 'coach' available to assess the use of the centre.

Christine Noble Make trying out the centre a development objective.

Don Williams Good sometimes, not being sexist but particularly with females..

Stephanie Phillips (Gareth - the ones making use of the centre)

Gareth Pugh LTSB are turning their old face to face trainers into learning facilitators.

Stephanie Phillips Don - what were the problems with females exactly...........?!
George Parker Anyone promoted learning which has nothing to do with work - i.e. piano playing , DIY, etc - set up a 'learning' philosophy.

Gareth Pugh In LTSB the directory of learning application tells people all learning available and is backed up by an HR Call Centre offering advice.

Don Williams Not a problem, they seemed to see that they could transfer their new skills to other things...

Gareth Pugh Language training is a good one.

George Parker Nice one Gareth - thanks you given us an idea here with your input.

Russell Holt How does the centre link to mentors, if you use them?

George Parker Gareth - what products are you marketing in your new role?

Stephanie Phillips Some great ideas coming through here. How about discussing what sort of content - how do you decide whose products to use?

George Parker Our centre very new - longest serving staff 8 months - hope to look a structured approach to mentoring next year - we are in a situation where everyone is learning from each other at present.

Gareth Pugh MMT resell all the major e learning products. My role is to offer consultancy to set up learning centres! bespoke projects and on line learning.

Don Williams Guess this will be influenced by the trainers preferences and the trainees needs..?

Stephanie Phillips There are a lot of companies out there providing books, tapes, videos, not to mention e-learning! Russell, any thoughts?

George Parker Sure - Stephanie - we're looking at CBT material for Trainee Team Leaders, and for Customer Service Advisors developing within their role and career.

Gareth Pugh In Lloyds soft skills on their own didn't work, you need a mix of business specific and soft skills.

George Parker We are also exploring developing and designing our own intranet based training.

Christine Noble When setting up a new centre, how about asking the potential users first what they would like to see available, and buy in whichever best matches your business needs?

Gareth Pugh You need to look at what programmes you are delivering at the moment and find out how to integrate e learning.

George Parker Any recommendations - i.e. videos, books, etc.?

Russell Holt Christine, I agree. I think e-learning sounds great to employers but employees take more convincing. The migration needs to be gradual & include face to face contact & other 'offline' elements.

George Parker part of our project plan is to consult with all levels within the centre - its the longest part of the plan actually.

Stephanie Phillips George - sounds like good practice.

Gareth Pugh Russell you are right you can't stop delivering face to face one day and then start e learning the next as the technology can't always deliver what the user expects.

Christine Noble Pleased to hear it George - consultation is as important as marketing in my view.

Don Williams Consultation IS part of marketing.

Gareth Pugh I would like to know if people would prefer to learn at a learning centre or at their desktop?

Christine Noble I stand corrected!

George Parker Thanks - we've already spent a lot of time discussing this - so today was an excellent opportunity to compare our thinking - its nice to see we have thought of many of the best practice approaches.

Yvonne Akinmodun I quite agree Christine -consultation is key as it will take time to win some of our staff over.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, seems like we're coming to a conclusion. Does anyone have any final thoughts to add?

Russell Holt Yes, reconvene in 12 months to see how these centres have progressed!

Christine Noble Yes -once the initial flurry is over, keep on plugging or you'll only reach the ones who have bought in already.

George Parker Our view at present is that we don't want to look at learning at the desk top - very busy call centre environment - we not yet convinced by you can do it all from where you work every day - too many distractions.

Gareth Pugh I agree with you George.

George Parker Anyone got any last comments on how they have validated the use of a centre, i.e. - w hat would happen if we didn't have a centre - would the business really suffer?

Stephanie Phillips I think that's a key issue which is going to take a fair bit of follow-up work on the part of those setting the centre up!

Gareth Pugh Questionnaires in a LMS is the most popular.

George Parker LMS - excuse my ignorance?

Stephanie Phillips You could ring users and their managers up a few months later - how has it helped?

Gareth Pugh Need to look at did it encourage them to come back again.

George Parker Yes, agree but still seeking something more 'bottom line ' and kicking!!!

Gareth Pugh Learning Management System.

George Parker Woken up now !! Gareth - thanks.

Gareth Pugh Captures user data, pre & post testing etc.

Stephanie Phillips George - I think that's the perennial evaluation issue not just for LRC.

George Parker Fair point, Stephanie -got to keep asking.

Gareth Pugh You're right, Stephanie, but evaluation is the thing people always ignore.

George Parker Gareth - do you want to contact me : [email protected] - to discuss how you may be able to help with our project?

Stephanie Phillips I think we should leave it on that point! Thanks all for taking part - a good discussion!

Don Williams Takes a lot of effort to get beyond happy sheets..

George Parker Thank you everyone - very worthwhile today.

Gareth Pugh Could I ask have those who have set up centres done it off back or have they used other people to add value?

Gareth Pugh George I would be very happy to.

George Parker Good day everyone - bye.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks all again. Hope the session has been helpful.

Russell Holt Bye all. An interesting session.

Don Williams Bye, thank you.

Stephanie Phillips Bye all.

Gareth Pugh Thanks good bye.

Yvonne Akinmodun Bye everyone- thanks.

Christine Noble Thanks all, bye.

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