Need an e-learning check-up?

Jeanette Swain

Jeanette has worked in education and training for over 20 years as an environmental educator, e-learning leader and in quality and compliance. She specialises in helping clients to maximise system integration, change management, reporting, learning analytics and the learner’s user experience. Jeanette has recently joined the talented team of Accredited Consultants at eWorks, a group of experts offering specialist advice across the e-learning spectrum. Here Jeanette reminds us that we all need an e-learning check-up from time to time, and that this process offers a simple first step towards change and improvement.

Is it time to question the status quo?

Perhaps you have been running a learning management system (LMS) in your organisation for some time, but have you questioned the status quo? We’re all busy – it’s easy to get stuck in the habit of rushing to get work done, without taking time to reflect on where we’re at, how we got there, and whether it’s where we want and need to be. Is the present way of working smart, scalable, sustainable? Some of the questions you may need to ask about your existing e-learning practices and processes can be difficult through existing eyes. Working in e-learning across several organisations has provided me with insight into the many approaches that are taken when it comes to online delivery. Are you taking advantage of the latest developments in this constantly evolving (aka exciting!) area?

Status Quo cartoonCredits: Status Quo by Mimi and Eunice

An e-learning check-up can help you consider new options

An e-learning check-up doesn’t need to be time consuming or laborious. It is simply about asking a few questions – then answering them honestly – any gaps, holes or issues will soon become clear. Where you don’t have the answers, it’s time to get some expert advice. A few questions that you might like to consider include:

1. What is your user experience like?

How consistent are your courses? When teachers are developers there are countless approaches to course development. Does this confuse your learners? What are the organisational strategies you can use to ensure consistency of user experience?

2. How sustainable are your courses?

Are your e-learning stars individuals with passion? What would happen if they move on? Are you utilising the skills of these staff in mentoring and coaching others? What are your continuity and professional development strategies?

3. How scalable are your e-learning processes?

The uptake of e-learning has been growing over time, but are processes such as course development, course requests, backups and storage falling on individuals? What about content? Is it accessible to other staff, do you know what and where your e-learning assets are? Can the existing processes be scaled up to meet demand?

4. Are your organisation’s compliance requirements built into your learning programs?

Is this transparent or a hybrid paper/digital solution. Are you able to easily extract compliance data? What changes could you put in place to make the LMS part of your compliance solutions

5. Is the LMS part of your business systems?

What other business systems does your LMS talk to? Is there duplication of effort across multiple systems? How can these systems or their data outputs and inputs be integrated to increase efficiency and reduce costs?

6. Is it time for a stocktake?

What is actually going on behind the numbers? Is it time for a stocktake? How do you delete old material without losing valuable assets? Are your assets accessible to all staff across your organisation?

7. What analytics and reporting tools are you using?

Are you collecting relevant data? There may be a lot of courses on your LMS, but how are they being used? Is the data you are obtaining informing your practice? How should it be? 

So how did you go? 

Answers to these questions will vary depending upon your organisation, your staff and your learners. Perhaps you need a hand answering them or figuring out what to do next? That’s okay. Or maybe a pair of eyes outside of your business or organisation would help? Continuing with the status quo might be the easy way for now, but the longevity of any organisational business system comes from ensuring that it can meet the long term aims of the organisation and embrace change in the field.

Contact Jeanette for a chat about any or all of this.

Third party compliance training. Not your job?

Marlene Liontis is the Director of Lion Global HR Pty Ltd and one of the team of eWorks’ Accredited Consultants. Have you ever considered your responsibility when it comes to third party compliance training? Fortunately for all of us, Marlene has.

The third party trend

Workplace third party use has been steadily increasing and shows no signs of abating. One survey suggests that up to 30% of Australians are doing some form of freelance work. Take a moment to look around your office or workplace right now. How many of your colleagues are permanent employees? I’m guessing there are quite a few contractors, temporary staff members, consultants, casuals and so on. That’s just the way things are these days. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, with many employees now choosing freelance or casual work. But what does that mean when it comes to risk management and compliance training and, most importantly, your responsibilities surrounding these activities?


[Credit: Risk, by Got Credit]

Yes it’s your responsibility

As the use of contractors and agents in the workplace becomes more prolific, so do the potential risks if they are not adequately trained. Do you know where lines would be drawn should one of your contractors or third parties be accused of misconduct? Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, ‘that’s not my responsibility, my contractors are from an agency that should take care of all of that’. You have a point, but what if the actions of your contract staff have an impact on the permanent staff for which you are clearly responsible? Third party risk management and compliance training should be as much of a consideration as compliance training for permanent staff. Training on subjects such as bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and ICT acceptable use is one of the most effective ways to mitigate workplace misconduct by third parties and provide a key defence strategy when misconduct does occur. It also makes you a good employer, more likely to attract top candidates and realise business goals.

How to get started

In order to make third party compliance training normal practice in your organisation, start by conducting a risk assessment, then develop a business model that includes the implementation of best practises. Try following these five steps:

  1. Provide third parties with clear codes of conduct and policies on behaviour, ethics and so on.
  2. Identify the risks associated with third parties and rank in priority.
  3. Complete all due diligence checks before engaging third parties.
  4. Continuously monitor third parties based on each individual risk level.
  5. Ensure all third parties undertake compliance courses (see more below).

It doesn’t have to be difficult

Quite simply, there needn’t be any additional risk if you ensure that everyone has been trained, and making this happen doesn’t need to be costly or time consuming. Yes agents and contractors can be hard to track down and identify, but a comprehensive delivery platform with trackable user history reports will ensure that you have precise records of all training undertaken by your staff. Failing to train your staff, contractors or otherwise, is a missed opportunity to significantly reduce risk and liability for your organisation.

Still getting your head around compliance training? Not sure how to deliver and monitor it smoothly? Contact eWorks for advice.

Harassment claim mitigation and trackability

Marlene Liontis, eWorks Accredited Consultant

Marlene Liontis is the Director of Lion Global HR Pty Ltd and one of the team of eWorks’ Accredited Consultants. Here Marlene talks about the importance of trackability and what’s at stake if we don’t bother with it.

Hidden risks you need to know about

Digital learning serves to enrich both the learning and development and compliance strategies of an organisation. How? By making tools and content easily accessible to every staff member, instantaneously. It is this seamless provision, however, that also brings hidden risks. Staff training is all fine and well, but if it isn’t tracked properly for auditing purposes, potential claim mitigation can become very tricky indeed.

Trackability – yes it’s a word

Compliance training, in particular, requires comprehensive trackability. No, I did not just make that word up. Trackability, as the word suggests, is the ability to track things – like having an audit trail. In order to avoid potential damages and liability, it is essential that compliance training has clear and distinguishable learner history reports. Take a sexual harassment claim, for example. If an organisation can provide a clear and traceable history of staff training, this evidence will have a significant impact on damages awarded in the event of a claim.

My organisation doesn’t need it, does it?

It sure does. Even organisations with visible and concise learning policies on topics like bullying, harassment, discrimination, acceptable ICT use, ergonomics, manual handling and so on, benefit from retaining precise information on employee training. What is the point of having your staff undertake all of this crucial training if you don’t keep a record of who has done what? Keeping accurate records of learning and development undertaken, and having it easily accessible through reports, will reduce potential claims, enhance and reinforce skills and establish and maintain a positive workplace culture.

Stop chasing and start leading

Comprehensive staff training is often the best defence against claims of this nature and can protect managers and supervisors from vicarious liability. Ideally, compliance courses should be undertaken by all staff on a quarterly basis. If this is not realistic, these courses should be taken annually by each employee, at a minimum. Why not consider making these courses part of your pre-employment contract? This will reinforce your organisation’s culture and provide additional protection from future potential claims.

Tracking made easy

eWorks’ world-class learning management platform, TVC Enterprise, clearly tracks and records each user and his or her learning history via a wide range of assessment, communication and collaboration tools. These reports provide a crucial history so that you can be confident that your staff training is up to date and therefore avoid potential claims and damages.

The good news?

All of eWorks’ courses are tracked via learner history reports. To find out more, simply ask.

Why do RTOs struggle with compliance?

Marlene Liontis, eWorks Accredited Consultant

Sarah Phillips is a Senior Educator VET Assessment Specialist at Chisholm Online. She specialises in developing assessments for the online environment and has a background in e-learning that stretches for ten years. If you’re struggling to tick all of the compliance boxes at your registered training organisation (RTO), Sarah’s blog highlights a topic that trips up so many people.

Yes, many RTOs are non-compliant

It is not uncommon for an RTO to be found non-compliant in what was previously Standard 15 of the Standards for NVR RTOs 2012 when experiencing an audit. Standard One now replaces much of what was this standard prior to 2015. In fact from October 2013 to March 2014, 78% of all existing RTOs were found non-compliant in their initial audit for Standard 15 – the elements that underpin quality in training and assessment. This can be an even greater risk when delivering courses online, because RTO staff may believe that near enough is good enough when addressing the components of a unit of competency and training package.

Common non-compliances

Here is a list of common non-compliances when dealing with assessment:

  • over or under assessing
  • failure to fully address the requirements or components of those requirements
  • addressing skills requirements as knowledge
  • incorrect mapping to criteria and required knowledge and skills
  • using language of the unit of competency for assessment
  • unclear instruction given to students
  • open questions that could result in the student not covering the criteria
  • tasks not sufficient to cover the requirements of the unit of competency
  • observable tasks passed off as knowledge or non-observable activities
  • assessments over or under the required AQF level
  • risk of trainer bias
  • failure to address implicit and explicit requirements.

This is a long list, and ensuring all these issues are avoided takes time and good processes to be in place. However, it also takes great attention to detail, and this is often where RTOs are let down by their assessments. This is where it can be important to unpack your unit of competency before you embark on writing your assessments.

Why can it be so hard?

Most training packages require you to assess students within the context of the industry, that is within a simulated environment or within the workplace. This can have huge implications for those RTOs delivering in the online environment. Just because it is inconvenient for your RTO to deliver in a simulated or real workplace, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. The main factors in all of this are the observable skills over time and real-time assessments and knowledge, demonstrated in context and applied.

Getting your evidence right

I have had many RTOs ask me how much evidence is enough? I give the same answer that an auditor would – sufficient. We must comply with the Rules of Evidence and Principles of Assessment when writing our assessments, and fortunately the 2015 standards explicitly explain this to us. However, it is not difficult to identify how much evidence is sufficient if you look into the language of the unit of competency and, in particular, the performance criteria, skills and knowledge. The identification of action words, multiple items and occurrences, plurals and other implicit requirements can help to make sure you write assessments that fully cover the criteria – and provide enough information to the students for them to provide the evidence you require to find them competent in the unit.

Here is an example

Share personal experiences and knowledge with the person being mentored according to agreed objectives.

When deconstructing the literal requirements of these performance criteria, we can identify the active verb (Share), the recipient or participant (person being mentored), the abstract nouns (experience and knowledge) and the condition of demonstration (according to agreed objectives).

This criteria has a number of components that need to be included when writing an appropriate assessment for the student to undertake. It clearly identifies resources required for the student to be able to complete the task, those being access to a ‘person being mentored’ and access to ‘agreed objectives’. To sufficiently cover this criteria, you need to provide a contextual environment for this activity to occur.

How things can go wrong online

Although it may be tempting in an online environment, it is not adequate for an assessment to simply ask:

How would you share personal experiences and knowledge with the person being mentored according to agreed objectives?

Firstly, the student hasn’t actually done the task, and secondly, it has ambiguous components. It can be considered measurable to assess one’s ability to share something with another person according to a set of rules, however the abstract nouns (experience and knowledge) create a facet that is immeasurable within this criteria. What does experience and knowledge actually look like? Therefore the criteria are ambiguous and must be interpreted by the writer to create a benchmark for the student to provide measurable evidence. You also need to make it explicit that the student is required to share both knowledge and experience as one or the other is not enough to fulfil the criteria.

Then how should you do it?

This criteria would be better evidenced through a project where a student is required to engage in a session with a person being mentored. It would also be ideal to group this criteria with others that help to provide context to the situation. You can see that a single performance criterion can hold a large amount of detail to be covered, and attention to detail is necessary to ensure your RTO is found compliant at audit.

Are you watching your language?

Although the standards have changed for those entering RTO land, and they are changing in April 2015 for those already in it, the simple rule of watching your language still and always applies. Indeed watching your language is the most important part of complying with VET legislation and all the supporting documents included within its implementation. Make sure you have good writers (or at least proofreaders) who understand language and can take the time to make sure your application is done right. It will cost you less, both in time and in your RTO registration, to do it right the first time.

Sarah would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter for more advice about everything VET. And if you’re struggling to get your online content compliant eWorks has a team of instructional designers that can help.