WA11BP02 Embedding E-learning in Business Partnerships

Executive Summary

As a result of this project Holyoake now has the capability to develop and implement online training. The Innovation project provided opportunities for trainers at Holyoake to develop the skills required for a range of responsive best practice professional development competencies for workers in the AOD sector. These competenices can lead to a qualification in alcohol and other drugs from the Community Service Training Package. Feedback from workers in the sector indicated that some workers particularly in regional areas did not have access to training and that blended delivery on-line and in the workplace would be appropriate. The online application of training would allow workers to work at their own pace and in their own time.

The need to increase current competencies and skills for best practice in the sector and the improvement in employment prospects for participants was recognised. Recognition of the importance of utilising emerging technologies, including the provision of e-learning in the AOD workplace, has facilitated the achievement of this aim. This project focused on e-learning skills development and embedding e-learning within our business partner's organisation. The project team explored different e-learning strategies that could be blended with face to face delivery and provide the most appropriate strategies for our participants and client group. Participants were encouraged to explore opportunities for embedding elearning technology within their organisation and we endeavoured to stimulate an e-learning culture within our business partner providing knowledge and skills to empower workers to set a benchmark of innovative service for their clents.

Our Innovations team are trainers and counselors with extensive experience working in the AOD sector. The development of skills in elearning has became an extension of their existing skills and knowledge with application to the requirements of the workplace.


Holyoake delivers a unique family sensitive and confidential alcohol and other drugs (AOD) interventions. It provides services that are founded on best practice which are effective, evidence based and cost efficient.

Holyoake employs 80 staff fin the metropolitan and regional areas of Western Australia and has affilliates in all other states in Australia. We have formed a business partnership with the Western Australian Substance Users
Association (WASUA) for this project.

Holyoake is a Registered Training Organisations and delivers accredited training in AOD, Co-occurring Alcohol and other drugs and mental health conditions and Group work.

Holyoake has offered accredited training for more than ten years with learners coming from across Australia. In addition to Western Australia our trainers have delivered training in Sydney, Darwin and Alice Springs with a focus on our family based system. We also have links with some of the universities, our trainers provide input to some undergraduate degrees courses providing knowledge and skills in alcohol and other drugs.

From time to time there have been requests from learners in regional Western Australia and other states for on-line training, this project aims to up-skill our staff to enable them to develop and deliver this training.

Mike, Jayde ,Liz and Paul

We launched our Innovation Project with an invitation for lunch to all staff at Holyoake. Our Education and Training (E&T) team did all the cooking and preparation. The Education and Training Department of Holyoake has only five staff, but Holyoake as a whole has about 80 staff including counselors, group facilitators and administration staff. The 'Launch' enabled us to talk to the staff about the project and gain their support for some of our activities.

All team members were actively involved in the development of the Alcohol and Other Drugs project and explored all available resources.

Holyoake Innovation Team pictured at the launch of the Innovation Project; Mike Sowerby, Jayde Gray (JD), Elizabeth Gray (Liz), Paul Loseby, Carolyn Spillett is missing.

We collaborated and consulted with staff from our business partner The Western Australian Drug Users Association (WASUA). throughout the project to ensure we met the learning needs of people working in the sector. We were conscious of the differing learning styles of learners and in particular those with a kinaesthetic learning styles, learning best by doing rather than reading. To meet these needs we worked with learners, staff and supervisors in the workplace. We will provide a blended delivery of training which allows the learner to interact with our trainers face to face and practice their skills in a simulated workplace environment if it is appropriate for the learner.

WASUA provides an exceptional service for clients with substance use issues, staff are eager to gain a qualification to assist them in delivery of this service. We will provide a pathway to a qualification and a learning environment that will lead to sustainable workplace practices incorporating e-learning skills.

Times have changed in the AOD sector, we need to keep abreast of these changes in our work with our AOD clients and the way we implement our training programs for example look at the change in amphametamine use.

Changing attitudes to drug use

What was done

Holyoake and WASUA collaborated in all stages of the development of this blended delivery of training. The focus groups enabled us to learn about our learners and their needs and for them to to become comfortable with us and our environment. Opportunities were given to participants to trial a range of e-learning and assessment tools that reflect workplace practices.

Our Implementation Plan
1. Launch of the project and presentation to Stakeholders (Holyoake and WASUA)
2. Team building activities and e-learning training
3. Development of our wiki page
4. Consultation with participants and other stakeholders
5. Development of strategy and learning design
6. Development of content and learning activities
7. Mid project reporting
8. Series of focus groups - engagement with participants, trials, feedback and changes
9. Trialling the course
10.Working with the web developer
11.Uploading outputs

Our early preparation for the project included identification of our target group, their learning styles, learning activities that would be most effective for our learners and appropriate assessment methods. Following the Project Launch, Paul, LIz and Jayde met with the enthusiastic team at WASUA to discuss the project and engage them in the process of program development. The WASUA team provided constructive feedback that added to our early research and guided us in our approach to the development of the e-learning. The experience gave us a snapshot of the dynamic front-line workplace where our future learners operate, giving us a wonderful opportunity to discover the learning needs of our client group. We followed this with a second focus group to obtain feedback on the content and provide the learners the opportunity to trial the online program.

Paul, Liz, Mike and Jayde attended Moodle training. The Team 10 Conference was exciting and furthered our knowledge in E-technology and getting things on-line. The concept of an e-portfolio or variation may prove useful for our clients. We also followed up with WestOne's professional development opportunities particularly the lunch time on-line.

Jayde, Liz, Mike and Carolyn working on the project

Planning the project - Holyoake Innovation team
We approached the development of our e-learning program with a Learning Design influenced by the feedback from staff from our Business Partner the Western Australian Substance Users Association, potential learners and industry experts.

The time spent planning our project allowed us to explore different methodologies, available learning material and learning resources, appropriate activities for our learners and specific material for working with alcohol and drugs. We were particularly impressed with the learning material available through tool boxes and LORN. Once we had decided on using Moodle we investigated how to incorporate the learning material into this learning management system. We quickly realized that the available material would need to be customized for our target group, the workplace and the learning environment.

We aimed to encourage our learners to engage in e-learning technology to communicate with colleagues and perhaps their clients. Participants had the opportunity to explore different emerging technology and social networking tools and develop their skills and self esteem and increase their engagement and communication with colleagues and clients.

We conducted a second focus group to consolidate all learning and allow time for reflection.

Second Focus group with learners from our business partner.
Coffee and cake help to break the ice for
the second focus group

The focus group allowed our learners to explore our site and discover
how learning can also be fun. We were able to learn more about, and envisage the situations that our learners experience everyday and take this into consideration in planning the next steps.

Paul and Jayde at the second focus group

Jayde helps a learner as she explores our moodle site

Some learners required little assistance whilst others required more help.
Learners liked the way we approached the training and were particularly pleased
with the support we offered.

Holyoake_2011_015.jpg Carolyn works with another learner

We were pleased to get some really useful feedback from our learners.

Learners were able to give us very precise feedback on the format and the language and made very useful suggestions on how to improve the course for their learning styles.

One learner commented that she had always felt that she would not be
able to attempt higher education but with the encouragement and help we had given her at the focus groups she felt much more comfortable about the idea.

Benefits from the project

This project has built on our existing knowledge and skills to deliver on-line training to a wider audience. By attending TEAM10, staff gained skills in e-learning including using Moodle and other technology. We gained a greater understanding of the learner's needs in this environment and the skills required to access all the opportunities available through e-learning.

Training opportunities through WestOne provided us with the basis for development of an AOD Course that will meet the needs of the AOD Sector. Holyoake.

The collaboration with WASUA provided by this project gave us an opportunity to see first hand the how our learners interacted with their clients and the services they provided to those clients.

Lessons Learnt

We thought we had the skills to complete this project believing our team had 'moderate' web development skills. Near the end of the project we found that our skills though moderate in our own estimation were not sufficient to complete the project without a more experienced web developer. The project turned out to be far bigger than we had estimated and we had to considerably reduce our expected outcomes. The massive learning curve was not appreciated until the end stages of the project.

Our own internal processes created challenges. Before we could even begin to implement our e-learning we had to adapt all our resources for this medium. This was not as easy as we had thought it would be. In addition to this there was was the limitation of our technology and network and the policies and procedures we needed to navigate through. These issues created huge delays. We struggled to get permission to download e-learning applications in a timely fashion.

Another difficulty has been selecting the most appropriate resources to use from the wide variety available. We trialled activities with our learners with great success in some instances. However other activities whilst successful in a face to face situation did not always achieve the desired result on-line. So we had to go back to the drawing board rethink and redesign.

Our learners needed much more support than anticipated. We needed to be very flexible in the delivery of e-learning. Learners responded to the support and encouragement but the provision of this changed the very structure of the environment that we were trying to create. The outcome of this was the recognition that 40% of our learners required the reassurance of real time on-going tutorial support . E-learning may not be the way to go with some learners. We needed to make contingency plans for these learners. At the same time the majority of learners in this cohort were very anxious to start their training.

Our own experience has demonstrated the absolute need for very clear instructions or advice to all users particularly in an on-line learning system. This includes the language used but also the way information is presented and where the program is presented; for example the absence of a clear introduction or overview in some programs leaves the new user bewildered and unsure how to proceed. If the information cannot be found easily the learner may not make the effort to find it.

Trainers new to e-learning need to be given time to familiarize themselves with the medium. Despite their extensive experience and skills both in training and in the AOD sector applying these skills and knowledge to e-learning requires a whole new mindset. Teamwork was essential, when one individual experienced difficulty as a team, although we were all learning, we could generally work out the solutions.

The results

Our program is well advanced, we particpated in a massive learning curve and achieved the capacity to deliver e-learning to the AOD sector. This was due to the efforts of all team members who despite illness and Christmas and Easter Holidays persevered to the end.

The experience gained by our trainers from this interaction and the training they received from WestOne in Moodle and other e-learning software has resulted in the begining of an e-learning capability. We now have the capability to proceed with the Skill Set in Alcohol and Other Drugs though we are aware that we still have a long way to go with the development of our skills. WASUA will benefit with workers trainined in Alcohol and other Drugs but also with staff who have increased computing technology skills which may enhance the delivery of services at clients WASUA.

Reflections and suggestions

Team members were willing but commitment to time was difficult there was always a urgent job to be completed or clients to see.

Some learners required more time learning how to access e-learning than we anticipated whilst others were very quick and we needed to provide stimulating material to avoid to keep them engaged.

Clearer directions and details of progect expections would be helpful for example a definition of moderate web development skills may be self explanatory for web developers others may see themselves as having moderate web development skills but do not meet the requirements of others.

Paul Loseby presents Holyoake's progress report at WestOne.

To view the PowerPoint presentation by Paul follow the link below.

Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework[[#_ftn1|[1]]]) funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.

We will showcase our e-learning within the AOD sector, other RTOs and industry service providers

In engaging in this E-learning Innovations project, the following Framework products and resources were used…
Professional development opportunities from WestOne in development of e-learning skills
Advice from the Toolbox champion


This is a Western Australian E-learning Innovations project output, developed by Holyoake The Australian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Addictions Resolutions and The Western Australian Substance Users Association, with seed funding from the Framework.holyoake-logo.JPG

For more information

Paul Loseby

Contact Holyaoke:
Paul Loseby
Manager Research Learning and Development
Embedding E-Learning in Business Partnerships
Phone: (08) 9416 4444
Email: ploseby@holyoake.org.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email: enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website: www.flexiblelearning.net.au