NationalTrustScotlandThe National Trust for Scotland is a conservation charity helping to conserve and promote Scotland’s heritage. The Trust employs 1,000 members of staff and more than 3,000 volunteers who give their time and expertise to the Trust. Read on to find out more from Joanna Fairweather, People Development Adviser at the National Trust for Scotland.

Tell us about eLearning at The National Trust for Scotland

We’ve been using Charity Learning Consortium courses & resources since April 2012. We also commissioned a design team to develop an online induction module (pictured below) that all new members of staff and volunteers would access in their first three months. Subsequently, we have designed and developed in-house online learning modules, including a Volunteer Handbook (for all new volunteers and managers to access) and a customer service module that more than 750 staff and volunteers have completed to date. We now have more than 2,000 users on our books and since the launch of the site over 1,592 modules have been completed by staff and volunteers. It is early days with eLearning, but I feel like we are making good progress.

How do you maintain a consistent approach to Learning?

All modules are available to staff and volunteers, we find that this inclusive policy works well for our organisation. When we deliver face to face training we also now link it to online learning modules, so we have a really blended approach to learning.

What has been your greatest eLearning success?

Recently we asked all head office staff to complete an online learning module focusing on customer care. A fantastic 93% of staff completed this module and it has made us realise that online learning is a good tool if the environment is correct.

What’s your greatest eLearning challenge?

Unfortunately, the poor internet connection at some of our more remote sites!

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your role?

From staff within the Trust who provide ideas on new topics and give feedback. The true motivation for using online learning is to ensure that staff and volunteers feel supported in their roles.

Are volunteers part of your L&D strategy and if so how do you gain buy-in when there is no financial incentive for CPD?

We treat volunteers like any other member of staff. We have also designed a module specifically for volunteers, the Volunteer Handbook which is helping with ‘buy-in’. We have a broad range of volunteers, some starting their career who want to gain as much learning as possible to further their chances of gaining employment to retired members of the public who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the roles. Online learning can be utilised to great effect here.

What are your tips for a successful learning/eLearning strategy in the third sector?

A slow and steady approach works best – you can’t do everything that you might want to do, all at once. On a practical level, having advocates at sites and properties to help staff and volunteers with the modules also works well.

What learning technologies are catching your eye and why?

I really want to attend Articulate training so I can use this tool further.

What excites you for the future of eLearning?

eLearning is a great way of supporting an organisation to develop and grow, and we’ve found that online learning is also a good tool to support staff and volunteers.

What three tips would you share with others, from your experience?

  1. Don’t make modules you are designing yourself too fancy, they might not work on some PCs.
  2. Gain support from individuals based at other sites, not just centrally, to help spread the word
  3. Listen to feedback and ideas on modules that aren’t working – and do something about it!

What are the benefits of being part of The Charity Learning Consortium?

  • Great support from the technical team, namely Learning Technologies Manager Ian Ross and Learning Technologies Assistant Leigh Miller
  • Access to a broad range of relevant materials and knowledge. The CLC helps create connections with other like-minded organisations to allow us to share resources.
  • And it’s great to be working with people with an understanding of third sector challenges