Student Story: Christine Langley
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What is it that you and your team do on a day to day basis for the council?
Within the council, we are responsible for learning and development opportunities. Throughout the year we have a core training programme. But then we are also responsible for meeting any bespoke requests coming from departments, so anything from team building, to supporting them with specialist training that they require.
What kind of projects are the team working on now and how might they be different to what they were working on before they went on the programme?
I think a major shift that has taken place is that prior to going on the course, I had very skilled staff in delivering training in the classroom and with covid playing a part in this, we had to very quickly adapt that learning to online. So that was actually hosting webinars that are interactive, which continues that engagement that you would see in the classroom, but also increasing the resources in the digital field, such as creating voice over PowerPoints, eLearning modules and videos. So there was quite a variety of different online resources that could be accessed by people at any time, so responding to on-demand learning.
What kind of challenges did you have creating that kind of content?
I think that some of the challenges were that staff were at different levels in terms of their knowledge around technology, and whilst they were supporting one another, it did mean that some projects were a bit slower than others.
I think also not knowing the different elements of software that we could use and exactly what they could create, that was something that once we realised we were able to invest in some of that software and have subscriptions that we didn’t previously have. But also its fair to say that there were a number of software’s that you didn’t have to pay for, which could give quite good material that you could put together and it would still look really good.
What has been one of the key results of the team going on the training course and how has it affected what they are producing on a day to day?
I think it’s fair to say that with some of the staff, because their confidence increased, they were exploring what was out there more and being very creative with what they were able to produce. The quality of the online resources we have now and the feedback we get from other departments is fantastic, so much so that they are coming to us when they have specific bespoke requests asking can we develop an online resource for them. In meetings where information has been shared, again the quality and the way we are able to present that material really engages others and we are asked how has that happened, and it’s from our staff being upskilled.
Has this led to savings around time or financial savings do you think?
Definitely around time, but equally I think before where we had identified a gap that we needed to fill, we would have been looking outside of the council and that’s when we would actually see the cost savings because now that we are producing a lot more we don’t have to go to our marketing department or our communication department and asking them to source something for us because the first resolve is, actually can we do this inside the team and who is the best people to do that and identifying the different levels that people are working at and the different interests that they have, again is really cost and time effective because we are getting a better result in a speedier route.
Has engagement with other parts of the business improved? Has this led to savings around time or financial savings do you think?
It has, It’s the demands that come through or the requests really that come through because they have seen the quality of work that we are producing. It’s a case of we have something that we need to produce, are you able to do this for us? And what we are able to do is to cost that out for them, so for the departments it is a cost saving exercise as well. The feedback that we have had is something that is great to us as a team, but it is our reputation I think that has grown.
Thinking back to last year, why did you choose the Digital Learning Institute?
If I looked at the makeup of the team, a lot of the team are very experienced in terms of learning and being able to facilitate learning. But something that we identified that we needed to do with the change to online, was that we needed to upskill the staff in that area and we are talking about upskilling the staff across the whole of the council and it was believed that we couldn’t have done that without upskilling our own staff.
The experience that your team got from DLI, where do you think they got the most benefit?
I think a number of people where they lacked confidence and it took a long time to grasp was the technological side of it, I think that really improved their performance. I also think that the thoughts process that we would go into, we needed to develop a product and we were so focused on the product itself that perhaps the stages that we needed to go to hadn’t been as planned as they could have been.
I also think that learning theories that staff were working to in the classroom, it was then how could they transfer that to the online. So there was so much learning taking place and what was good was because there was a cohort going on together they were able to support one another with their learning as well as learning from the wider group and any discussions that were had, they could continue those outside, so that was really good. But the bottom line was that we were seeing some really good material being produced. Its made us look back now at the things we were producing before and saying, we can’t have that, that’s just not good enough and we need to revisit that to bring it up to quality.
How likely are you to recommend the course that your team went on in the digital learning institute, the diploma specifically?
I would recommend it for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s really important that staff are given the opportunity to develop their digital learning skills and I think the diploma actually gives those various modules that they have to go through which supports their learning.
The cohort that we have put through, have said that the benefits to them as individuals has been fantastic. I had three members of staff pass with a distinction and two with a merit. So it was really important that for the diploma, they were able to map out what was needed for the project which they were able to do because of how it was structured. The material that they were producing was of high quality and whilst there’s work outside of that, so the building of the module itself, it really gave a great framework for them, and working with the SME’s as well, what it was able to do was to give that really good outline to what we would be working to and the breakdown in those different areas. So again we were able to give good timelines to them that were realistic. So those clearly are the benefits that we saw as an organisation.
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