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TrainingZone interviews: Richard Bragg


As part of our theme of the month, we caught up with Richard Bragg, a member of the Charity Learning Consortium and training partner of the Royal Voluntary Service.

Tell us about your elearning journey at Royal Voluntary Service.

Over the last three years more than 2,000 volunteers and staff have benefited from our online learning system. We now have more than 500 learning modules completed each month.  

How do you maintain a consistent approach to learning particularly as you are so spread out across the UK?

This is a challenge for us, but elearning really helps us. By using online modules we can give the same access to the same materials for all our volunteers and staff across England, Scotland and Wales. Initially this was through specific online materials that individuals complete, but recently we have added training toolkits and videos that our managers and trainers can use to deliver consistent training to groups. Our Moodle LMS makes it easy to do this.

What has been your greatest elearning success?

Our greatest success has been the impact on the services we provide to older people. The learning has helped us deliver safer, higher quality and more professional services. This makes my job very rewarding.

What’s your greatest elearning challenge?

Getting people to use it: We work hard to help people to use and benefit from the elearning and have learnt lots on how to do this through our journey. Our initial impact was small and some people doubted the value of elearning but over the last three years it has grown in credibility and interest and I’d like to say it is now embedded.

Some of the ways that we have achieved this are:

  • Link your material development as closely as you can to organisation and individual needs
  • Develop good, engaging, relevant and interesting content
  • Work with managers to promote and push eLearning
  • Develop varied and extensive publicity (most of which will be low or no cost)

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your role?

  • From understanding our operations, seeing what the needs are and what can make a difference
  • Working with colleagues across the organisation
  • Networking across the industry and particularly The Charity Learning Consortium
  • Online blogs, articles, twitter posts, etc

As volunteers are part of your L&D strategy, how do you gain buy-in when there is no financial incentive for CPD?

We are one of the largest volunteer organisations in the country so most of our services are delivered through volunteers - so it is critical for us to train and support our volunteers well. We provide all new volunteers with access to all our online materials when they join and encourage them to use this. But the key is local management - encouragement and support by local teams, setting expectations, helping with access and staying positive all the time. Providing good relevant materials is important as well.

What are your tips for a successful learning/elearning strategy in the third sector?

Start with organisational strategy, work out what learning is required to deliver this and then which elements of this are best suited to elearning. Then deliver the best elearning that you can.

What excites you for the future of learning/elearning?

Doing what we do better – using the appropriate technology to enable us to be more effective and produce better end results for the people that choose our services.

What three tips would you share with others, from your experience?

  1. Plan carefully and thoroughly. Be clear on your objectives and deliverables then develop a clear project plan.
  1. Be aware that many things take longer than planned. Be realistic with your timescales but be prepared to adapt in order to deliver.
  1. Developing learning is only half the story, once this is ready then the real work can start in getting people to use it.

Richard Bragg is volunteering and training partner at the Royal Voluntary Service and a member of the Charity Learning Consortium. The Royal Voluntary Service is a volunteer organisation that enriches the lives of older people and their families across Britain. It’s one of the largest volunteer organisations in the country and has 40,000 volunteers and 1,500 staff providing services through 67 community hubs throughout Britain. Its elearning is available to all of these to help the charity provide practical help to older people where and when it is needed. The efforts of Richard and others at RVS were recognised with a Charity Learning Award in 2011.

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