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Trainers tip: Mobile learning in the construction industry pt2

24th Jun 2013
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Tony Willson concludes his feature on how effective mobile learning can be to the construction industry.

Testing learners

Most elearning courses are interspersed with a few questions and most then have a test at the end. 

There are some elearning packages that allow the learner to have multiple tries at getting a question right and it is up to you to decide whether you want to see everyone pass the test, or whether you would like to know whether that person has actually learnt anything!

Some systems allow the employer to set the pass rate on a test, some allow multiple attempts at the interim questions but not on the test and so it is up to you to check out the offer and to decide what it is that you want.

Buying the courses

The word ‘session’ is often used in elearning circles. It really just means a course. Almost every provider will offer you both a sample on their website but will give you access to one or two courses so that you can try them and allow others in your organisation to do so as well.

There are two basic ways of buying elearning courses. In a block or individually - obviously the latter is far more expensive. Once you have identified what courses are required, you must be aware that there are quite a number of providers but they may not be able to offer you all of the courses that you want. It may mean that you have to use a few companies which can be a little more complicated to administer. Equally, some companies insist that you buy numbers of the same course whereas others allow you to buy a number of sessions and you can chose which courses these are.

If you have planned your training, buying individually shouldn’t be necessary. Individual courses can cost upwards of £20 a time whereas buying in bulk (25+ courses) can reduce the cost significantly. It will also mean, with most providers, that you will be able to have your own Learning Management System set up so that you can monitor and record the training – especially necessary if you are claiming CITB Training Grants.

However, bear in mind that because of the very nature of the training, you will have to pay up-front (or at least, if it is a periodic payment, you won’t be able to use more courses than you have paid for at any one time.

Whichever way you buy, the process is normally that online, you allocate a course to a person, they are given a log-in and they do the course. It is a simple as that.

Learning Management System

This is the ‘back room’ reporting system that elearning programmes provide. If you purchase sufficient numbers of courses (this will depend upon the minimum set by a supplier) you will have access to the LMS from which you will be able to gather all manner of information. From basics such as who has passed (or failed) what course, to issuing certificates, to checking who has spent time doing a course and when, the LMS is a management tool that can tell you as much or as little as you wish.

When considering a provider, ensure that they offer a full range of reporting, via their system.

Off-the-shelf or customised - or a bit of both?

Most courses are generic so if you have a fire safety course, it will deal with all aspects of fire in a general way. However, some providers allow you varying levels of customisation.  Some will allow you to upload documents or photos. So in fire safety courses, you may wish to have learners read your fire safety plan for the building, or see photos of the assembly points or fire doors. Some also allow you to add video clips.

Many will also allow you to customise the questions that are asked in a course, to make them totally relevant to your operation.

Then there is having a complete course written for you – often done for things like inductions, or when a new piece of software is introduced. This is a time-consuming project as not only does someone have to write the whole script, devise the questions (if required) and then decide upon the design, the whole course then has to be programmed in. Individually written courses can cost anything from £5,000 upwards. Lesser customisation as mentioned above can cost a few pounds, or may even be free within the package.

'Selling' it to staff

One area that is often forgotten is that, if you haven’t used elearning previously, your employees will have to make a change. And we all know how change is viewed by many people. You will need to market the new way of training to staff with a very positive message, give them help to start the process (support is often offered by providers for a honeymoon period) and monitor progress.

For those who work on-site, attending a training course is probably something that most could do without, so 'selling' the fact that they can spend 45 minutes, rather than half a day, is a winner. Office people are mostly more willing to attend training but for them elearning is a means of doing their training at their desk, at a pace that they find acceptable to them and not having the work pile up whilst they are out of the office.

Elearning comes in all manner of styles but whichever you choose, it will save you money; it will ensure that learners are learning; it will help you be more pro-active; it will massively reduce downtime on site; it can get you CITB Grants – and it is the way forward for construction industry.

Tony Willson is the MD of elearning company www.elearningforconstruction.co.uk

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