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Austen Sinclair speaks frankly about using Moodle in the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) of the NZ government. The IT department insists they use off-the-shelf products, reduce diversity in IT systems, fully leverage investment in SAP products for finance, payroll and HR information - all of which makes the use of Moodle problematic.

In the government each business area produce their own training products. There is also an issue of inertia whereby communities within various business areas could deploy their own Learning Management Systems, but choose not to because they are comfortable with the situation as it currently stands.

Austen describes a number of successes with training around products such as Kiwisaver, and health and safety. Traditionally a health and safety officer had to take between 2 hours to a whole day to complete training. With the alternative Learning Management System (LMS) solution people can choose when, where and how to learn, which has proven very popular.

Agencies need an LMS to host courses in a simple and coherent way. However, the tendency is to buy "elaborate tools to provide metrics on improvements in capability without any of the necessary building blocks for this". Sinclair suggests that a 'successful' LMS needs to be owned by someone who 'cares', whether this be a person, team, or business unit. Furthermore, the LMS design needs to be inclusive, critically adaptive to business usage, and supported in a manner that suits people who offer the training.

Interestingly, Austen emphasised the issue of motivation - the fact that people cannot be made to learn - so to encourage people to visit a learning environment it has to be user-centric. The LMS also has to have a life of its own (in a manner a little bit like Facebook) so that there is a reason to visit the site regularly.

Sinclair provides an interesting insight into training and professional development that harnesses some of the functionality of an LMS to offer flexible professional development. It is also heartening to see examples of design for social learning, learner-centred environments, and aspects related to motivation.

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