Model for sustaining online learning practices within an organisation.


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Model for sustaining online learning practices within an organisation.

Irene Ireland, TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute

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  • My name is Irene Ireland and I am here representing TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute. In this session today I will be sharing with you the model we have developed at NSI to help embed and sustain online/e learning practices within our organisation. Northern Sydney Institute is one of Australia’s largest vocational education institutions with over 50,000 enrolled students annually. Our institute consists of 7 colleges located in the Northern Sydney region and we have approximately 1300 teaching staff.
  • We have, over the last 12 months, installed and implemented a Sakai online learning solution for our teachers and students. On that Sakai installation we have approximately 3800 unique users accessing 776 Sakai sites supporting 64 qualifications. I would now like to share with you what we have doing at NSI to continue to grow this initiative.
  • Let me set the scene.... Why Online delivery... As a vocational educational institution it is important that we are responsive to our local markets, we recognised a need ... our learners are demanding flexibility, businesses don’t want their employees to leave the workplace in order to study ..... Online delivery is an excellent way of meeting some of these needs... External factors were recognised, now we had to provide the systems, change the culture – traditionally we do most teaching face to face – teachers are very much of the opinion that students want to come to class Set with the task of moving them into a different paradigm – change in delivery –just change
  • What we found was that some of our teachers were early adopters, they could immediately see the benefit, they got a satisfaction with working with a new technology and they were keen to utilise the solution to enhance the teaching and learning of their students. They got on board, we did some training with them, they start to use it, they got feedback from their students, they uploaded resources and some of them even moved to the assessment process online.
  • The students love it, they are engaging well with what their teachers are doing and requesting more access in more subjects. Other teachers saw what they are doing and they wanted to do it too...
  • So the question for the organisation is ..... How do you keep this momentum going? How do you increase the uptake across the organisation by staff? How do you get more teachers involved? How do you sustain online learning practices within the organisation?
  • In effect we want to move from single points of enthusiasm and innovation, to a wide spread organisational uptake – A thousand flowers blooming...
  • Why bother with a sustainable model? You might ask yourself – what drives an organisation to want a sustainable model for elearning initiatives You might think that so long as some people are using the tools and providing flexible solutions to their students – that is enough But is it? – Consider this... what happens when those who were the early adopters leave, what about meeting the continuing expectations of students, how can we harness any cost benefits, how can we ensure that we are meeting the market requirements for flexible delivery options These are some of the issues that drove us as an organisation to ensure that there is sustainability and growth in online delivery
  • How are we achieving this at NSI? I would like to take you through the model that we have adopted at Northern Sydney Institute – Let me share with you an example - in our Community Services and Welfare Business Line (faculty) we had one flower blooming – our Beauty section started by delivering their Retail Units online. Others areas within the business line saw their successes and wanted to do the same for their students – within 14 months this business line now has 20 qualifications online for their students – in Sakai terms this has equated to 470 unique students accessing 102 Sakai course sites. Our model is based upon a three pronged approach A clear organisational Strategy Organisational Support Elearning champions Looking at these in more detail....
  • Clear Organisational Strategy At NSI there is a whole of organisation approach to online delivery.
  • For this to be successful there must be management buy-in across the organisation. Top down and at all levels – Institute Director – Kevin Harris is very passionate about meeting the needs of the customer (both the learners and enterprises ) He is keen on the use of leading edge technologies and how they can innovate and enhance the teaching and learning experience for both the teacher and the learner This enthusiasm filters down the organisation – Business line management include online learning in their marketing and business plans – There are targets set across the organisation for the delivery of online units within business lines The develop budgets which include line items for IT infrastructure, professional development of teachers, purchasing of existing resources, costs of outsourcing some support and development etc. Managers Teaching and Learning and Head Teachers - look for strategic opportunities - what subjects suit online delivery – what combinations of delivery will meet the needs of the students – how can we enhance the assessment process – what resources already exist – how can we share across teaching sections. A project approach is also used to ensure maximum effectiveness of teacher time and resources – project approach includes offering, planning, developing, conducting, and reviewing This whole management buy in approach which forms part of the organisational strategy sees teachers being supported in their development and delivery of online learning
  • The second prong to the model is Organisational support We have basically broken this down into four main areas Responsive and empathetic IT department is fundamental to the implementation of a reliable and successful system We have hosted our instance of Sakai internal to the NSI systems infrastructure – our ICT staff have had to become familiar with the installation of Sakai and other applications which support it. Policy and procedure support – policies and systems need to reflect the changes that online delivery brings to the teaching approach. At NSI many of the policies and their supporting systems have been developed for face to face teaching – these need to be updated and adjusted to reflect the issues that online delivery has – for example responding to emails and forum postings etc outside of normal face to face hours – how is this handled, recording student participation – turning up in the classroom and marking the roll – absent or present is no longer suitable, taking assessments – doing them online – how do we validate the learner – who is sitting the test etc Making the changes to these policies and systems is paramount in the success of embedding elearning in the organisation - otherwise it becomes too hard for the teachers!- we have developed a good practice guideline that supports teachers in implementing online learning – it provides them with checklists and processes to make it easy for them. Reliable and appropriate hardware and systems If you are offering anytime, anywhere, anypace delivery then you need to have a reliable hardware/systems implementation. The PC’s which are being used to access the online delivery need to have the correct software and versions to support the resources being used. We work closely with the ICT department to ensure that the standard builds of PC’s throughout the organisation have the applications and appropriate versions installed. The server in particular must be reliable – bad first experiences by students and teachers are not easily forgotten. Budget support – spending and return on investment changes when you introduce a new teaching medium into an organisation. Often an organisation assumes that by moving everything online they will be able to cut costs! Initially this is not the case – particularly during the initial stages of moving online. Adding appropriate line items to budgets to support online delivery is necessary to ensure adequate funding.
  • It is the third component of our model - introduction of the champions for online delivery - which appears to have the biggest impact on sustainability at the grass roots level within the organisation What is a champion? Essentially a champion is someone who can Empower, motivate and mentor teachers in online delivery, as well as influence others at all levels about the benefits of online delivery They play a vital role in ensuring sustainability within an organisation. At NSI we have adopted the role of champions at two levels One is within the Teaching and Learning Performance and Development unit – a strategic unit setup to provide online learning (and other technology based learning) support for the entire Institute. The other is with individuals within Business Lines(teachers basically who are using the technology and are passionate) they are supported by their Head Teachers, Managers Teachers and Learning and Business Lines. These champions influence those around them, essentially acting as change agents, sustaining online delivery within the organisation.
  • Recently (April this year) a paper was released by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework called “The impact of elearning champions on embedding elearning – in organisations, industry or communities” I was pleased to read the findings in this paper as it supported the approach that we at NSI had been using to help grow and sustain online delivery within our organisation. This diagram has been developed as the result of this research conducted by the Aust Flexible Learning framework and represents the champions program design and performance framework required for the champion to impact effectively and achieve the goal of embedding elearning. The research involved a review of existing literature, consultation and interviews with 15 experienced elearning champions and case studies of three of the champions. Essentially it outlines the traits and tasks of the champion to sustain embedded elearning If we work our way through the framework (starting at the top box) - the champion must have credibility – that is they must have considerable theoretical and practical skills in elearning and the capacity to use a diverse range of soft skills at all staff levels. They need to be end user focussed, generous and have enthusiasm, be persistent and problem solve – with these characteristics a champion builds credibility and elearning is more likely to be adopted. The next two boxes focus on building engagement and influencing others – this can only be achieved through a strong user focus – exposing teachers to elearning as they become ready, transferring elearning know how in chunks, providing strong support and remaining open to changing their approach based on feedback. Influencing others at all levels of the organisation through effective communication. And then the fourth box focuses on organisational commitment as already described – this research found that champions with these characteristics, supported by the organisation, can result in sustained embedded elearning.
  • Champions summary They need to operate strategically and focus available resources on achieving a critical mass of adopters. Be highly visible – promote the cause within the organisation Great to have a champion in management – someone with political intelligence
  • Recap... Our model is based upon a three pronged approach A clear organisational Strategy Organisational Support Elearning champions
  • Recap... Our model is based upon a three pronged approach A clear organisational Strategy Organisational Support Elearning champions
  • Model for sustaining online learning practices within an organisation.

    1. 1. Sustaining online learning practices within an organisation Irene Ireland TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute
    2. 3. Set the scene
    3. 8. Why bother?
    4. 9. How are we achieving this at NSI? <ul><li>Clear organisational strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational support </li></ul><ul><li>Elearning champions </li></ul>
    5. 10. Clear Organisational Strategy
    6. 11. Institute Director Meeting needs of customers Learner and enterprise focus Leading edge technologies Business Line Management Marketing and business plans Setting targets Budgets Managers Teaching and Learning and Head Teachers Project Approach Strategic Opportunities Teachers Management buy-in organisational strategy
    7. 12. Organisational support <ul><li>Responsive and empathetic IT department </li></ul><ul><li>Policy and procedure support </li></ul><ul><li>Reliable and appropriate hardware and systems </li></ul><ul><li>Budget support </li></ul>
    8. 13. Elearning champions Champions at the strategic support unit level Individuals within business lines Sustaining online delivery within the organisation
    9. 14. Copyright Australian Flexible Learning Framework 2009 Champion Framework
    10. 15. Champions <ul><li>Operate strategically </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on critical mass of adopters </li></ul><ul><li>Highly visible </li></ul><ul><li>Champion in management </li></ul>
    11. 16. Recap <ul><li>Clear organisational strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational support </li></ul><ul><li>Elearning champions </li></ul>
    12. 17. Questions?
    13. 18. References <ul><li>Australian Flexible Learning Framework, “The impact of elearning champions on embedding elearning – in organisations, industry or communities” April 2009, </li></ul>