Over the last year we’ve had the pleasure of working with many reputable Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to “go live”. It may be that the RTO needs a new learning management system that works on all devices. Or they need to implement a specific blended learning model. Or a new digital delivery strategy. Or streamlining the internal workflows and eliminating waste. Or specific online learning resources and assessments. The list goes on. Each client and each project is different, and the requirements are unique to their organisation.
And yet, curiously, we find that most RTOs share quite a few things in common:
• These projects are a transformation of their organisation. Whatever it is, it requires a new way of doing things within the business, with implications for many departments.
• RTOs are easily overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with such a project.
• There are many influencers and nay-sayers in the organisations.
• Things start off nicely, fizzle out, and then all fronts go quiet.
A transformation project can be doubly harder, if your organisation provides training courses that target very practical skills that require a lot of face-to-face and on-the-field time (think commercial cookery, machinery, or aged care). Is it even possible for training organisations in these areas to bring their teaching online? We’re often asked.
The answer is a resounding yes.
Yes, you CAN implement blended learning into a practical course.
Yes, you CAN do it successfully.
Yes, it has been done before.
And yes, it is most likely a risk worth taking.
If anything, in times like this, it is actually a bigger business risk if the organisation resists going online. Your students demand it, your trainers and staff need it, and your budget will thank you for it.
But the caveat is that most e-learning projects are not managed properly, and the majority of them will fail. How do you ensure success?
Think like a runner.
We ask that you take a leaf out of runner’s book.
Here are 3 biggest lessons in change management that we’ve learnt from running:
1. Sometimes the hardest part about going for a run is just getting out the door.
Once you’re out the door and start moving, everything will come together. The same principle can be applied in business and project management.
The bigger the RTO, the more influencers and decision-makers there are within it. A simple digital implementation project can take months to be kick-started and up to a year to be carried out. You are so careful to “make sure everything is planned out and accounted for”, you lose momentum.
Well, don’t. Just do it. Just get started. Set a tight deadline, set a soft launch date, and off you go. Don’t waste your time in countless meetings. You will find that having a challenge and a deadline makes it more motivating and energizing for the team to work toward. Issues can be dealt with, bugs can be fixed, feedback can be incorporated along the way. There is always a new round of revision and updates.
Just get started somewhere. Today. But that being said..
2. It pays to be prepared.
Do you run without some sort of running gears? Do you run without tying the shoes laces properly first? Do you run without water stops and small breaks every now and then?
No, you don’t. Same thing in implementing a digital learning project: plan first.
Our top tips:
• Draft your digital strategy: why are you doing this? What are the goals? What are the key metrics?
• Have a roll out plan: quickly identify a rough roadmap of what’s to come.
• Who’s in charge? Make sure you put the right people in the right place – it’s best that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and who’s accountable for what.
And most importantly,
3. How do you run a marathon? Put one foot in front of the other, and don’t stop till you cross the finish line.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Treat your project as a marathon, not a sprint. This means better prioritizing and long-term planning. An online learning project, as we have mentioned, is typically a project that transforms an RTO: it requires changes in the ways people do things and even in the ways they think about processes and workflows. Therefore it is vital that you stay patient, as change management takes time to be effective.
In a marathon, it is okay to let others pass you, and the same applies here. Everyone runs at their own pace. Every VET organisation is unique, and you shouldn’t spend your whole day obsessing over what the competitors are up to. Compliance requirements and funding options are amended frequently. Keep an eye on them, but don’t make it your priority. Focus on what’s important: student outcomes, quality of training, and industry currency.
We also recommend that RTOs take baby steps in e-learning implementation projects. The joy of it is that you get the results almost immediately with very little risk. Quick wins can boost staff motivation immensely and urge them to do more; whereas setbacks can be dealt with and learnt from. Start with a small trial, and if it doesn’t quite work, modify it and try again; if it tanks miserably, cut your losses and abandon it; but if it does work, scale it up, keep an eye on it, continue to modify it where necessary, and enjoy your “overnight success”.
Over time, those small changes will add up to a big transformation.
One foot in front of another, and repeat.
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