News story

Inspirational learning & development at Barnardo’s

Learning NewsCharity Learning Consortium

Barnardo's, the UK's leading children's charity, has won the trophy for the Best Overall eLearning Programme at the Charity Learning Awards. Judges were particularly impressed with the breadth of learning technologies Barnardo's has embraced, the innovative approach taken, and the organisation's dedication to supporting its eLearners.


Barnardo's small Learning and Development team has beaten the challenge of reaching a large organisation by devising creative initiatives to support the development of some 7,500 staff and volunteers, at 400 sites spread across the UK and Northern Ireland.

Pictured are (L to R) Lisa Johnson, Assistant Director Information Services, Learning and Communication, Barnardo's; Martin Baker, CEO and founder, The Charity Learning Consortium; Mike Woods, IS Learning and Development Consultant, Barnardo's

Award judges were particularly impressed that this small L&D team embraced so many different types of learning technologies. From using virtual classrooms, video, wikis, and an online learning community through to eLearning, they have covered all bases.

For example, all new recruits are provided with a 45 minute virtual classroom session introducing Barnardo's IT systems. Staff are shown how to access the charity's learning resources and support, and this virtual classroom is also available to existing staff.

All eLearning is delivered via a customised Charity Learning Consortium Moodle website.

By using learning technologies, the charity reached 54% more learners in 2010/2011 compared to those it trained in 2006/07.

Lisa Johnson, Barnardo's IT Learning and Development Manager, comments: "ELearning and the use of other learning technologies has had a major impact on the way we support IT users within our organisation. Sixty per cent of our delivery is now online."

Judges were also impressed with the L&D team's innovative approach. Analysis of calls to Barnardo's helpdesk led to the team producing online fact sheets based on FAQs. As a direct result 'How to' calls were reduced by 50%.

A large part of the charity's awards success is the team's ability to listen to the challenges learners face and to develop viable solutions to solve problems. This policy has had a noticeable impact on the organisation's learning culture.

As Lisa explains: "Initially our staff were reluctant to try eLearning and felt isolated. By introducing individual learning contracts, team-based learning and promoting learning in small bite-sized modules, we helped people overcome their concerns.

"The team introduced virtual classrooms and learners were at first anxious - but once they attended a session they were hooked and we are seeing more staff sign up.

"As an alternative to requesting 'training', staff are also now choosing self-directed learning. Instead of staff saying 'I need a course' the enquiry is now 'where can I find a learning resource that will help me do x?' This is a major shift forward."

Commenting on Barnardo's Award, Martin Baker, CEO of The Charity Learning Consortium said: "This is an inspirational example of how a small team can achieve a great deal. The team has really listened and responded to the needs of their learners, offering vital support which underpins their technology-led learning. It's a great story for others to follow - and not just charities."

Tops tips for eLearning success
From Lisa Johnson, Barnardo's IT Learning and Development Manager

•Success comes in small chunks - make your resources easy to find and quick to use.
•Keep reviewing your progress - the issues you need to deal with will change over time.
•Keep in contact with your learners - despite eLearning and virtual classrooms being popular, it's vital to still have some face to face learner interaction to keep abreast of their changing needs.

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