E-learning for Government : Ask the right questions

Lisa WaitLisa Wait has held key roles leading national digital education initiatives for government. She knows how challenging yet rewarding it can be to run a project that will be under the spotlight – especially if you’re responsible for public state-wide or national e-learning. That’s why it is so important to ask the right questions at the very beginning, which can be tricky when you don’t know what those questions are. Have you thought to ask these questions?

With which technical standards does the e-learning solution need to comply?

Answer: Find out what delivery system will host the e-learning solution.
In government you are likely to be using a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Web Content Management System (WCMS). Check with the business unit responsible for the LMS or WCMS for the standards to include in procurement documentation, including any standard operating environment and supported file formats.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 Level AA) apply to all online government information services (external and internal) including e-Learning content. Information for WCAG2.0 and government departments and agencies can be found on the Digital Transformation Office website and guidance on implementation can be found at the E‑standards for Training website.

Credits: Question Mark Cookies 3, by Scott McLeod

Are there any government policies I need to know about?

Answer: This answer will depend on the scope of the e-learning project.
Procurement policy
guides any government project requiring purchasing of goods and services. Privacy policy needs to be considered if you plan to store end user personal details. If your e-learning project requires hosting, your department/agency will have a position on security and solutions such as cloud hosting. Explore relevant government policy with the business unit responsible for ICT and consult your legal team for advice on any risk management strategies required.

What about copyright?

Answer: Commonwealth or state copyright is generally used by departments and agencies. Consider if Creative Commons (CC) licensing might be applied. A CC license is ideal for e-learning resources designed to be customised and shared by end users such as schools, TAFEs and the community sector. One example of a Creative Commons license is BY NC SA. This refers to accreditation (who the work was BY) for non-commercial (NC) use which must be shared-alike (SA) – that is under the same licence. A CC license such as BY NC SA protects intellectual property and branding, yet enables ‘free for education’ flexible content. More information about Creative Commons licensing in government can be found on the Creative Commons Australia website.

Copyright Agency Licensing (CAL) exemption notices could also be considered. This means that copyright fees will not be collected from the use of the e-learning resources that your department or agency publishes.

What quality assurance processes do I need to put in place?

Answer: e-Learning content can be checked in-house.
This process will require someone who has the time to work through every screen including all interactions. Documentation of any issues needs to be thorough.

What type of testing needs to be conducted?

Answer: Consider contracting an external testing company to conduct technical testing to ensure compliance and as a risk management strategy. Compatibility testing needs to be conducted on each of the different browsers, platforms and devices defined in the technical standards. Functional testing will check the resource works as planned. Testing for WCAG 2.0 compliance will ensure that the e-learning resource is accessible.

What are the ‘whole life’ costs of the e-learning project?

Answer: The project cost will include the price of goods and services and should factor in maintenance, future enhancements and transition costs (at end of life). You may also need to include external testing costs, licensing and hosting fees.

Who do I need to ‘friend’?

Answer: Make sure that you have good working relationships with your Procurement Manager, LMS/WCMS and other stakeholder colleagues. For complex projects have an early meeting with your legal advisor.

So take a deep breath…

And get the ball rolling. We now have the questions to ask and the best foundation on which to build our projects. What is holding you back? Lisa is here to help.